Bernard, 29, has spent his entire eight years with the franchise that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft. During that span, Bernard appeared in 115 games and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had 342 receptions for 2,867 receiving yards and 11 touchdown receptions.
The North Carolina product was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September of 2019. The Bengals will gain $4.1 million in salary cap savings with Bernard’s release and incur only $666,667 in dead money against the cap, according to Roster Management System.
Bernard started a career-high 10 games in 2020 with starter Joe Mixon out indefinitely with an undisclosed foot injury. His best rushing performance was an 83-yard effort in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, the Bengals’ first victory over the Steelers since 2015. It was Bernard’s highest rushing total since Week 16 of the 2017 season.
Tuesday’s transaction comes as the Bengals have parted ways with several notable veterans who were part of the team’s playoff runs from 2011 to 2015. The team released former All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins earlier this offseason and did not re-sign former Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.