TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added some depth to their running backs room this week, signing Giovani Bernard to a one-year deal.
On Wednesday afternoon he spoke with the Tampa media, right after he officially became the newest member of the Super Bowl champion squad.
“First and foremost, I’m just really excited to join this organization– just to be here,” Bernard said. “You can already feel the difference and the atmosphere.”
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bruce Arians both reached-out to Bernard when he became a free agent and expressed their desire to have him in Tampa. Bernard says getting the opportunity to play with Brady was a huge part of his decision to join the Bucs.
“Being able to work with Tom,” Bernard said. “That in itself something that was really, really tough for me to pass-up on. Just to be able to build that relationship with him. Obviously you see the things that he’s been able to do throughout his career– coming here last year and doing what he did with the team and the supporting cast.”
Another factor was the chance to win a championship with this team.
“The biggest pitch for me was the opportunity to be a part of something that I feel like they’re continuing to build, even though they’ve already won the championship– the Super Bowl,” Bernard explained. “I still felt that there was something that they were still trying to show or prove or whatever it may have been. Even just the little phone calls that I was able to have. It just felt like these guys are still trying to go do something great– and they’ve already won it. That to me was just a little bit of a difference from the other teams that I was talking with.”
Bernard has played 8 seasons in the league– all with the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted him in the second round in 2013. The Bengals just released him last week to save salary cap money, and the Buccaneers saw an opportunity to gain another veteran back.
In Bernard’s 8 seasons, he’s accounted for 33 total touchdowns (22 rushing and 11 receiving). Bernard’s best and most productive season was actually his rookie year, but he’s coming-off a season where he had the most carries (124) since 2015, when he finished with 154 rushing attempts.
Bernard has Florida ties too. He’s from West Palm Beach and went to the football power house St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale and still has family nearby.
“Ultimately I’m just really excited to be here,” Bernard re-stated. “[It’s] a new chapter for me and my family. Playing as close to home as I could and having my dad being able to come up to some games now. He was not a big getting on a flight kind of guy. So him being able to drive over here will be huge for me. Just to be able to see him at some more games will be nice.”