Are the Bengals done in free agency? It doesn’t seem that way.
Per NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero, the Bengals have received calls from teams inquiring about running back Giovani Bernard.
Multiple teams have called to inquire about #Bengals RB Giovani Bernard, per source. Barring a restructured contract, Bernard — one of the NFL’s top receiving backs and still only 29 — could be headed elsewhere.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 25, 2021
Bernard was one of the players we listed as a possible—but not likely—cap casualty for the Bengals before free agency began. The 29-year old veteran is entering his ninth season in the league and has remained with the Bengals ever since the club drafted him in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.
That said, the Bengals recently re-signed Samaje Perine to a two-year deal and are set to play Joe Mixon over $35 million in cash over the next four years. Cincinnati currently leads all NFL teams in 2021 cap commitments for running backs ($15.9m), and with Mixon and Perine locked in through 2022, Bernard has indeed become more expendable.
Considering Bernard’s age and salary, it’s interesting to think what the Bengals could get in return for him. Perhaps a Day 3 pick in the upcoming draft is in play, or maybe even a player from another team.
The salary cap is another factor in this. The Bengals currently have about $23m in top 51 cap space and don’t necessarily need to free up space with most of their free agency activity behind them. Trading Bernard would free up about $4m in cap space, so unless they’re taking on another player’s contract in the trade, or another free agent signing is in the works, this move would be questionable considering the Bengals’ history.
Whatever ends up happening, Bernard is one of the most respected players on the Bengals’ roster. The last thing the club should want to do is trade him just for salary cap relief. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a hidden plan behind this.
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