Giovani Bernard is in a very familiar place on the Cincinnati Bengals running back depth chart. Bernard is still going to play the role of backup. Every season Bernard has played he has been a great backup but should have meant more to the Bengals organization.
Bernard is set to make 4.7 million dollars in the last year of his contract. The average yearly cost per team at RB is just over $8 million at the position. The Bengals are spending almost $15 million for the 2021 season on their Bernard and starting RB Joe Mixon alone.
What the Cincinnati Bengals will most likely do with Giovani Bernard?
When the Bengals decided to extend yet another contract with Bernard in 2019, it was a bit puzzling. Cincinnati already had plans for premiere RB Mixon. Mixon has proven he is a great talent at the position but every single season he gets nagging injuries or a season-ending foot injury this season.
Mixon just extended his rookie contract during the 2020 offseason which made the Bernard signing hard to swallow. Due to the circumstances of franchise quarterback Joe Burrow not being protected in his rookie season, some contracts will be looked over carefully.
The Bengals are already way over budget at a position that should not get paid big on their first big contract. Running backs Le’Veon Bell with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Melvin Gordon of the then San Diego Chargers were signed to long-term contracts. Teams just don’t pay big bucks to RBs especially when they are injury-prone.
During the 2020 offseason, RBs were given big fat contracts left and right regardless of how taxing the position is. Cincinnati will more than likely trade or release Bernard before the first day of the NFL year in March. The Bengals will get $4.7 million in cap savings since Bernard’s guaranteed money is gone.
The money the Bengals will save by cutting Bernard will go toward a more needed area like getting an offensive lineman in free agency. The Bengals did find out that Samaje Perine is an outstanding alternative at RB can and should be re-signed much cheaper than Bernard.
Top-10 highest value RB contracts (via @spotrac )
Ezekiel Elliott ($90M)
Alvin Kamara ($75M)
Christian McCaffrey ($64M)
Dalvin Cook ($63M)
Derrick Henry ($50M)
Joe Mixon ($48M)
David Johnson ($39M)
Saquon Barkley ($31M)
Austin Ekeler ($25M)
Tarik Cohen ($17M)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) January 19, 2021
What the Cincinnati Bengals should have done with Giovani Bernard
Like I mentioned before, every single season Bernard has been beaten out by many other RBs on the depth chart. Bernard has been determined and a fierce leader during his career. Once Cincinnati re-signed Bernard and the Bengals still haven’t found Mixon’s true potential he should not have been signed to an extension.
The Mixon extension shouldn’t have been at the expense of the protection of Burrow on the offensive line. Mixon’s contract will come back to haunt this organization. Bernard had the perfect contract to lead this team for the next couple of seasons.
Once the Bengals get their use out of Bernard they can go cheap again on an outstanding rookie RB contract. Most NFL owners view the running back position on rookie contracts. It’s sort of hilarious that owner Mike Brown hates to spend money but loves to overpay in a compromised position like RB.