Bernard, 29, has played all of his eight NFL seasons with the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2013. He has appeared in 115 games and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The former North Carolina player was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September 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 because Joe Mixon was out with a 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.
Mixon, who signed a four-year, $48 million extension last year, tweeted Wednesday that he "can't thank him enough for all he has meant to my career."
No better friend, teammate and mentor than @G_bernard25. I'll always cherish our time together and can't thank him enough for all he has meant to my career. Wherever he goes is getting a great player and even better person.— ⚡️Primetime!!!⚡️ (@Joe_MainMixon) April 7, 2021
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.