The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it a priority to add talent across their offense this offseason in an effort to field a roster that will have the depth to make another Super Bowl run under quarterback Tom Brady. Before the future hall of famer's return to Tampa Bay, it looked like star running back Leonard Fournette was headed elsewhere.
Instead, the Buccaneers locked Fournette up for three years while spending a priority pick to land former Arizona State running back Rachaad White in the third round of the NFL Draft a few months ago. Tampa Bay still holds Ke'Shawn Vaughn on his rookie deal as well as veterans Giovani Bernard and Kenjon Barner. That means at least one member of the unit will be on the outside looking in when it comes to making the 53-man roster in August.
In a recent article where one player on all 32 teams was identified as a cut candidate, ESPN's Jenna Laine targeted Bernard with her selection. In her opinion, it'll come down to the emergence of rookie Rachaad White throughout training camp.
"With Leonard Fournette becoming a three-down back, Keshawn Vaughn's improvement and the Bucs selecting Rachaad White in the third round of the NFL draft, where does that leave Bernard?" Laine wrote. "He'll be 31 in November, and he caught 23 passes for 123 yards and had 58 rushing yards on eight carries last year. If White assimilates into the Bucs' system quickly and can consistently pick up a blitz, Bernard could be left out."
While it's very possible that Tampa Bay elects to move on from Bernard during training camp, it's also important to note that the team carried four running backs on the roster in 2021. Ronald Jones left for Kansas City over the offseason, meaning there's still room in the rotation for Bernard despite the addition of White if the Buccaneers decide to keep four running backs this year.
Regardless, it's unlikely that Bernard makes much of an impact for Tampa Bay this fall. Fournette has developed into the clearcut starter after bouncing back to score ten touchdowns in 2021. Vaughn averaged five yards per carry a season ago and showed some promise moving forward while all eyes are on White to instantly garner snaps.
Bernard will turn 31 before the end of the season and is coming off a year where he recorded a career-low 334 yards of total offense (rushing/receiving). He's on the backside of his career and may be happy with taking more of a mentor role on a championship contender.
Training camp is set to begin in a few weeks so we'll know pretty soon how the situation is going to shake out.
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