What Giovani Bernard’s Deal Means to Jeremy Hill

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Giovani Bernard is one of the league’s best. But, what does his re-signing mean to Jeremy Hill?

Last week, the Cincinnati Bengals and Giovani Bernard reached a contract agreement. The two parties agreed on a three-year, $15.5 million dollar contract extension. After already gaining 2,105 yards on the ground, 1,335 yards through the air, and 17 touchdowns in his first three seasons, Bernard has already established himself as one of the best running backs in the league and a vital piece of the Bengals offense.

None of that can be denied, but the real question we should be asking has nothing to do with Bernard. In fact, it lies with his partner in crime…Jeremy Hill.

What does Bernard’s deal really mean to Jeremy Hill? This season Hill is going to be haunted, until he can get past his fumbling issues. The fumble in the epic “Meltdown at Paul Brown” and the fact that he had a pretty rough time last season, are going to be Hill’s toughest obstacles.

With that being said, Bernard’s deal means so much more to Hill than many may assume. Heading into the last year of his contract, there was a possibility that Bernard could leave in free agency, a la Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. If that were to have happened, the NFL Draft looked like the prime place to pick up Bernard’s replacement. The amount of running back talent coming out is incredible.

However, now that Bernard is locked up and next year’s draft still features players like Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette and Royce Freeman, the focus now switches to Hill.

Hill is in a tough situation. Bernard is not going anywhere. Everything Hill does this season will be scrutinized. If he doesn’t rush for over 100 yards every game, we’ll talk. If he doesn’t score double-digit touchdowns, we’ll talk. However, the worst part is that everyone will look to the draft, each time Hill doesn’t perform well enough.

In essence, the only thing Bernard’s contract did for Hill was increase the pressure on him. However, pressure only does two things . It creates diamonds or dust.

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Hill has to prove what he is all about, in his third season. We can’t give him a complete pass from last year, but the sophomore slump did hit him and his fumbling issues continued as well. Let’s also not forget that Hill took the league by storm his rookie season. Obviously, that meant teams were going to figure him out in his second season.

It’s time now. His third season is where he proves himself. In two seasons, per ESPN, Hill has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. The stats are pretty impressive when you consider he has always split time and runs in arguably the best division in the league.

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As long as he can get back to the basics and run like he did his rookie season, Hill will stay in Cincinnati for the duration. Two things are for sure though. We’re going to need him to play better this season. Losing Jones and Sanu is going to hurt the offense in some way. Also, Tyler Eifert‘s recovery time is an alarming development.

The running game is going to have to pick up this season and that starts with Hill. The starter sets the tone. Hill needs to go call Tiki Barber. Tiki’s first couple of years in the NFL was plagued by fumbles. He eventually fixed the problem. By the end of his career he, was one of the best running backs in terms of ball security.

Whether he calls or not, for Hill, the pressure is on. Time to prove yourself.

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