RB Giovani Bernard announces retirement after a decade in NFL

After 10 seasons, Giovani Bernard will leave the game. The former Bengals and Buccaneers running back announced Friday he is retiring (Twitter link).

Bernard, 31, wraps his career with two Bucs seasons and eight Bengals campaigns. The North Carolina product, who arrived in Cincinnati as part of the 2011 Carson Palmer trade, signed with Tampa Bay during the 2021 offseason. While his Bucs stint did not produce too much playing time, Bernard was a Bengals staple for most of the past decade.

The Bengals used Bernard as a dual-threat option. He complemented the likes of Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon for most of his Cincinnati career. Bernard ranks in the top 10 in both rushing yards (3,697) and yards from scrimmage (6,564) in franchise history. Only James Brooks totaled more receiving yards among backs in Bengals history.

When the Bengals traded Palmer at the 2011 deadline, they obtained a 2012 first-rounder and a 2013 second. Dre Kirkpatrick became the first of those choices, Bernard the second. Cincinnati chose the ex-Tar Heel 37th overall in 2013, making him the first running back off the board in that draft. The shifty back soon helped the team to three more playoff appearances during the Marvin Lewis– and Andy Dalton-fronted stretch in the early 2010s.

The 5-foot-9 back ripped off three straight seasons of 1,000-plus scrimmage yards over his first three years. This production earned him a nice payday. The Bengals gave Bernard a three-year, $15.5M deal before the 2016 season began. At the time, the deal placed Bernard in the top 10 among running backs for average annual value. Despite tearing an ACL during his first season on that contract, Bernard later signed a third Bengals deal — a two-year, $9.7M pact — in September 2019.

Mixon became Cincinnati’s primary back in 2017, but Bernard still played a role for the next four seasons. As they rearmed their roster around Joe Burrow‘s rookie contract in 2021, the Bengals cut bait on the final year of his deal. Bernard joined the Bucs, who were chasing another Super Bowl title. Tampa Bay allocated much of its 2021 resources to bringing back every key player from the 2020 championship team. Bernard became a mid-offseason outside addition for the eventual NFC South champs, but injuries limited him in Tampa.

Bernard, who also received interest from the 49ers and Seahawks in 2021, totaled just 41 touches as a Buccaneer. He suffered an MCL injury in 2021 and, after re-signing in 2022, battled ankle and calf trouble. Although the Bengals sought a Bernard pay cut before releasing him in 2021, the 10-year NFLer made more than $27M over the course of his career.

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Publish Date:2023-04-29 03:55:52

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