On Tuesday, the team signed running back Giovani Bernard to a two-year contract extension, according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero.
Source: The #Bengals are signing RB Giovani Bernard to a two-year, $10.3 million extension. He gets a raise to $5.9 million this year and $11M over two, including a $600K guaranteed bonus due in March. Locking up a team leader and playmaker through 2021.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 3, 2019
Bernard is on the final year of his contract, so he’s essentially now signed to a three-year deal paying him around $6 million annually.
Bernard may be listed as a backup, but he’s been a vital part of the Bengals offense ever since he was a second-round pick out of North Carolina in the 2013 NFL Draft. His specialty is as a third-down back who holds up well as a pass-blocker but is also one of the better pass-catching backs in the NFL.
One of the more underrated storylines of the 2019 season is how new head coach Zac Taylor will use Bernard, who could do a lot of damage in the new offensive scheme. Bernard wasn’t used much in 2018 as Joe Mixon ran the show, but Bernard is too good to keep planted on the bench.
In 12 games, Bernard rushed 56 times for 211 yards (3.8 avg) and three scores. He caught 35 passes for 218 yards and no scores. With the exception of the rushing scores, all of these were career-lows for the 27-year-old back.
Bernard is also one of the team’s most vocal leaders, especially on offense, so keeping him to help establish a new culture is a very wise move by the Bengals.