TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all 22 starters returning from their Super Bowl LV victory. But they still found a way to get better.
The Bucs needed to add a pass-catching running to its roster. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette have shown flashes, but neither was consistent enough throughout the season. When the Cincinnati Bengals released running back Giovani Bernard last week, Tom Brady and Bruce Arians personally contacted him.
Bernard officially signed a one-year with Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
“I felt like my best chances were here,” Bernard said. “I want to bring whatever tools I have to this team and just help win another one. I’ve never gotten that chance to do that. So I might as well attach myself to the guys that have already won it.”
No one has won more than seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, a quarterback who often relies on passing to the running back. Since Bernard entered the league in 2013, he ranks third among NFL running backs in receptions (342) and receiving yards (2,867).
“You saw what (Brady) has done in New England with (pass-catching running back) James White. He’s a very close friend of mine,” Bernard said. “Me, personally, I want to be an every-down back. It’s not just about the passing, I take into account the blocking. That’s a huge thing. You want to be able to protect that investment behind you. I’ve always relied on that.”
Now part of a crowded running back room, the eight-year veteran wants his new teammates to rely on him.
“For me being able to join that group it’s not about me taking these roles away from these guys,” Bernard said. “I just want to fill in where I can help whatever that may be. I want to be that guy they can count on. I’m the type of guy where I want to running back room to be the closest on the team.”
A native of Davie, Florida, Bernard played collegiately at North Carolina.