From the moment Giovani Bernard walked into Raymond James Stadium, the running back knew he made the right decision in signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I'm just really excited to join this organization, just to be here," Bernard said Wednesday speaking with the media for the first time since signing. "As soon as I walked into the building, whether that's facility staff, or whether that's the cooks, or whether that's the guys in the training room, to the, just to everybody here, you can tell there's an excitement still buzzing."
Bernard explained he felt a "difference" in the atmosphere inside the Bucs' organization, which is fresh off of a win in Super Bowl LV over the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Obviously, you guys won the Super Bowl last year, but you can kind of tell nobody's kind of let their guard down," Bernard said. "Everybody's excited for that next run, and I'm just excited to be a part of that."
So why did Bernard pick the Bucs over other teams that were interested in him? The veteran back who spent the first eight years of his career in Cincinnati shared that there's more work to be done in Tampa Bay despite the recent Super Bowl victory.
"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 or the Super Bowl," Bernard said. "I still felt like there was something that they were still trying to show or prove or whatever it may have been."
"Even with just the little phone calls 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," Bernard added. "So, that to me was just a little bit of a difference from the other teams that I was talking with."
Since entering the league as a second-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, Bernard has amassed 3,697 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns on 921 career carries to go along with 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He has appeared in 115 career games, making 30 starts. Bernard has played in three career playoff games, tallying 31 carries for 79 yards and hauling in 17 receptions for 121 yards in the postseason.
Bernard reportedly signed a one-year deal worth just over $1 million, including a signing bonus of $137,000, according to multiple reports.
Known for being a strong pass-catching running back, Bernard shared that his potential role with the Bucs didn't impact his decision as much as one would think. Bernard looked at the big picture when considering the Bucs.
"The thing for me, when I did speak with, you know, the coaches throughout this free agency, it wasn't so much the role that I would take on that attracted me," Bernard said. "It wasn't like, 'Hey, we're going to have you do this and do that,' or whatever, this and this and that. I think it's, for me, it was always about the culture that the coach was trying to build, and the players in the locker room."
"At the end of the day, that's what's going to really ride you throughout the season," Bernard continued. "The roles, yeah, that's part of the decision, but I think the biggest factor for me was just what I saw what these guys are continuing to try to build in Tampa."
Stay tuned to AllBucs.com for further updates on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2021 NFL free agency.
AllBucs.com Publisher Zach Goodall contributed to this report.