The NFL Draft is still over two weeks away, yet the Bucs roster is almost completely set for the 2021 season. Their two latest signings, RB Giovani Bernard and the return of CB Ross Cockrell, help continue to fill out critical depth on a roster looking to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
According to The Athletic’s Greg Auman, the Bucs landed Bernard at just under $1.1 million, although the 29-year old ex-Bengal will only count for $987K against the cap this season. As for Cockrell, the journeyman cornerback got a two-year, $2.1 million deal with the Bucs, with some play time incentives mixed in.
Bucs’ one-year deal with RB Giovani Bernard is a great value signing: Veteran minimum $1.075 million base salary and a $137,500 signing bonus. Only counts $987,500 against cap thanks to veteran salary benefit.
Bucs' deal with corner Ross Cockrell is two years, $2.11 million — league minimum salaries of $990,000 in 2021, $1.12 million in 2022, with up to $450,000 in playtime-based incentives each season. Smart depth to guard against injuries in defensive secondary.
Bernard will open the season as the Bucs top receiving back, expecting to see the field on the majority of long and late downs. Bernard, widely considered to be one of the best pass protecting backs in the NFL, has reeled in at least 30 passes every year of his career. Receiving and blocking are two areas where the Bucs 2020 running back room struggled, so Bernard’s presence should help alleviate some critical concerns. Bernard finished last season with 124 carries for 416 yards and three touchdowns, while catching 47 passes for 355 yards and an additional three scores.
As for Cockrell, he’ll begin training camp as the team’s No. 4 cornerback, with the ability to play inside or outside in a pinch. Cockrell provided valuable depth for the Bucs last season when Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean missed a couple games due to injuries. The former Duke Blue Devil finished the 2020 campaign with 11 tackles and one pass breakup, earning two starts.
The Bucs have now re-signed 12 of their own free agents this offseason, with Bernard the lone new signing. The only free agents from last year’s team that remain unsigned are WR Antonio Brown, DT Steve McLendon, RB LeSean McCoy, QB Blaine Gabbert, QB Ryan Griffin, RB T.J. Logan, RB Kenjon Barner and LB Deone Bucannon.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft