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Giovani Bernard signs $15.5M extension with Bengals

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The Cincinnati Bengals have locked up another integral weapon.

The team reached agreement on a three-year, $15.5 million contract extension with running back Giovani Bernard, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday, per a source involved with the situation.

USA Today's Tom Pelissero first reported the news.

The team later confirmed the extension.

The former second-round pick was entering the final year of his rookie contract, set to make $1.07 million in 2016. The new deal will keep Bernard in Cincinnati through 2019. Getting a three-year extension will give the 24 year old another bite at the free agency apple before hitting the dreaded 30-year-old mark.

The shifty Bernard has proved to be a dynamic dual-threat. His acumen in the passing game has been supreme since his rookie year -- 148 receptions for 1,335 yards in three seasons. At 5-foot-9, however, he's proved to be durable enough between the tackles (4.7 yards per carry in 2015) to keep defenses honest.

When Jeremy Hill struggled last season, Bernard picked up the slack and became the Bengals' go-to back for stretches of the season. While Bernard might not be a workhorse, he plays a vital role for Cincy in both the run and passing game.

With the loss of receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in free agency, Bernard's role in the Bengals' air attack is sure to increase in 2016.

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