The deal is for the veteran salary benefit (VSB), which for Bernard’s nine years of league service, comes out to $1.12 million, plus a $152,500 signing bonus, a source told ESPN, while the salary cap hit comes just below $1.05 million.
Bernard played on a one-year deal with the Bucs last year as well, serving as their third-down back. In 12 games, Bernard rushed for 58 yards on eight carries, but contributed 23 receptions for 123 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Bernard suffered hip and knee injuries last season that sent him to Injured Reserve, but he was activated in advance of the Bucs’ NFC wild card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In the postseason, he rushed for 44 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown, and five catches for 39 receiving yards.
With Leonard Fournette serving as the lead running back and Ke’Shawn Vaughn expected to back him up, Bernard’s primary duties will once again be to serve as a third-down pass catcher for quarterback Tom Brady. This move does not preclude the Bucs from drafting a running back to compete for that role either, as they’ve done significant homework in this area.