Buccaneers could move on from veteran running back

Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

With cuts coming up for the Buccaneers, some people might be surprised to see Giovani Bernard on the hot seat for a job in the wake of recent changes.

The Buccaneers are not a run-first team. Few franchises are at this point in the development of the NFL, and the best ones are moving away from the ‘run first, run often’ mentality.

This is not new for the Bucs. Tom Brady is still going to throw the ball near or north of 700 times this season, and that is exactly what the team should want if they want to go back to the Super Bowl.

So, this begs the question; why do the Buccaneers need four running backs on the roster?

In truth, Tampa doesn’t need four running backs when their most important talent is catching the ball and blocking on passing plays, and there actually exists a world where Giovani Bernard is one of the cuts for the Bucs tomorrow.

If you look back at the usage numbers from last season, Ronald Jones and Bernard accounted for 151 plays where they ran the ball or where targeted on a pass. Does anyone really believe that Rachaad White and Ke’Shawn Vaughn can’t pick up the slack in these areas after the preseason we just saw?

Jones was never able to recapture his success from 2020, and it is more than fair to assume Vaughn is finally ready to provide 4.0 yards per rush after Tom Brady and the offense open up the run.

Then, you move to White, who looked like a dominant runner and even better as a receiver during his reps in the preseason. Does anyone believe he can’t do what Bernard did in 2021 but better? (23 receptions for 123 yards and eight rushes for 58 yards in the regular season).

Bernard was always going to be extra. The Bucs don’t need him when they have three backs that will all do better in most aspects of the game in 2022.

If Tampa does lose any of their guys, the free agent market is still quite open, and they can cross that bridge if and when they get there.

Still, the roster is getting quite tight for the Buccaneers as they look to make all of the right decisions, and cutting an injury-risk running back that isn’t set to have a major impact in the upcoming seasons seems like a good place to start.

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