CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Bengals recently had a big decision to make.
Should they keep walking back? The young Bernard or release it for an additional $ 4.1 million in savings? The choice was easy in the end.
After Bernard was unwilling to cut his salary, the Bengals released the eight-year-old veteran who had a very productive 2020. This left the Bengals with a gap in the depth map behind the established starter Joe Mixon.
The Bengals believe Mixon’s former college teammate Samaje Perine deserved a bigger role in 2021. That may be a valid argument, but going backwards could be a position worth exploring in the EU NFL draft (April 29th – May 1st in the ESPN / ESPN app).
• Mocked: goalkeeper | McShay | Christmas tree
• Ranking lists: goalkeeper | McShay
• Goalkeeper / McShay: Mock duel | All-22
• • Team needs | Design of a matchmaker game
• • McShay’s playmaker | Kiper’s favorites
• • Complete ranking | sequence | More
Running backs can perform various functions, as the Bengals have seen in previous seasons with Bernard and Mixon. ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky said a potential draft amendment must have two properties.
“He must be a slasher – a cut, foot in the ground [and] Go with their zone running game, ”Orlovsky said on Tuesday. “Second, he has to be a skilled passport catcher.”
Bernard was used more than Mixon in the two seasons of coach Zac Taylor in Cincinnati. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bernard ran 58.9% of his offensive snapshots routes, while Mixon’s rate was 42.4% through Week 6 of 2020, Mixon’s last game, before missing the rest of the season with a foot injury.
Bernard’s biggest highlight of 2020 brought almost a win. Late in the Bengals ‘seventh week against Cleveland, Bernard started moving in fourth and first place near the Browns’ goal line. Bernard jogged across the border before suddenly shuffling his feet, reversing direction, and making just enough room for a 3-yard touchdown pass. It gave the Bengals a lead that they squandered in the final 66 seconds of a 37-34 loss.
Taylor gave Bernard full credit for making the risk paid off.
“He sold it,” said Taylor after the game. “He lost his husband and was then free in the apartment. It was really a good execution by all of these people, but I would do most of the credit to Gio there. “
Bernard, who has a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay privateerswas not only a capable receiver, but also a trusted blocker in third place.
Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell is an all-purpose defender who could be an option for the Bengals in draft. Mark Humphrey / AP Photo
During a pre-made conference call with local media on Tuesday, Bengali player staff director Duke Tobin said that Perine will take over the depth map for Bernard after graduating last season.
Perine has accumulated 181 yards in the last two games, including a 95-yard rushing performance in a Week 16 win against Houston.
“Samaje’s role is going to grow and I think he deserved it last year,” said Tobin, noting that the Bengals believe in Perine and Trayveon Williams, a 2019 draft pick who saw limited time after a stellar career at Texas A&M.
Orlovsky said the ideal return for the Bengals behind Mixon is one who can do more than just catch checkdowns. Ideally, that back should be able to win an option route against linebackers, a concept the Bengals used at times with Mixon in 2020. Last season, Bernard was the only Cincinnati to fall off the line with less than 50% of his goals, according to Scrimmage, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
What you need to know about them Cincinnati Bengals::
Orlovsky mentioned Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell as a possible option if the Bengals are interested in doing a rewind. A general purpose threat, Gainwell is number 8 on the draft according to the ESPN rankings. Gainwell rushed for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns, but caught 51 passes for 610 yards and three points in his final season at Memphis.
After missing out on the final 10 games of 2020, Mixon is expected to be completely healthy for the franchise for a pivotal 2021. He’ll try to show the form that earned him a $ 48 million four-year contract extension last summer.
There will be several questions about Mixon’s use in passing and how he fits into the quarterback-led offensive Joe Burrow. Bernard’s departure could redesign the roles for any Cincinnati walking back, possibly creating an opening to add a back to the design.