So far this offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done a masterful job of writing the book on how to maintain a championship roster, returning all 22 starters of their 2020 Super Bowl championship lineup. It became a legitimate question of if they were going to bring any outside free agents aboard the ship.
One of the names that had people talking was James White. On the surface, it made perfect sense. If the Buccaneers had any “need” it was a running back that was more of a receiving specialist. White certainly fits that mold, and given his success with Tom Brady with the New England Patriots, it seemed like a perfect match.
When it was announced White re-signed with the Patriots, sure there was disappointment for Buccaneers fans, but nothing they couldn’t handle, because again, all 22 are back.
The Buccaneers did finally end up signing an outside free agent in the form of running back Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals. It raised some eyebrows at first, then rolled some eyes as the Bucs got yet another toy for Brady to play with. When you look at the below, there’s plenty of reasons for fans to be excited.
Perhaps it’s because he was wasting away with the Bengals, but the fact that Bernard has been putting up receiving numbers comparable to White and Le’Veon Bell is pretty surprising. Bernard and his glorious crop-duster of a mustache also filled in for the injured Joe Mixon a season ago with great aplomb.
The addition of another veteran presence in the locker room coupled with the receiving skills out of the backfield in Bernard is a huge get for the Buccaneers. It may not be their most newsworthy move of the offseason, but it may be one of the more significant in the long run. Gio Bernard also may not be James White, but statistically, he’s the next best thing. Who knows? Perhaps with this supporting cast he can be even better.