Johnny Manziel

Extra Points: Contracts, Kaepernick, Manziel

The peak of the NBA’s free agent season and the eye-popping contracts it generated had more of an impact than usual on the NFL this year, thanks in large part to Richard Sherman‘s recent comments that, if NFL players are to begin receiving the same share of their league’s revenue as NBA players receive — and/or see more guaranteed money in their deals — they are going to need to be prepared to go on strike. The NFL Players Association has publicly sided with Sherman (via Twitter), but scribes like Ben Volin of the Boston Globe are not so sure.

Volin says the problem with NFL players going on strike is that their career span is much shorter than their NBA and MLB counterparts, and half of the players who are currently in the league will not be when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in the spring of 2021. That reality means that NFL players will justifiably want to maximize their earnings before their careers are over and do not really care what happens to their successors.

Likewise, Volin does not believe the focus should be on more guaranteed money, though other writers like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believe teams should consider offering fully guaranteed contracts immediately. Volin believes that, if contracts become guaranteed, owners would simply adjust by giving players shorter deals and less money up front. Instead, Volin says the solution to NFL players’ “problem” is twofold. He says the union should 1) work to remove the franchise tag, which prevents players from realizing their true value and can keep them under their original club’s control through their prime seasons; and 2) fix the rookie contract system, which has eliminated the NFL’s “middle class” by allowing teams to replace serviceable veterans with much cheaper rookies. Indeed, the league has been trending younger and younger, and fewer players are getting a second contract.

This is a discussion that will only pick up steam the closer we get to 2021, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at a few more links from around the league:

  • It was not that long ago that running backs were viewed as dime-a-dozen assets in a pass-heavy league, but players like Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson have helped to change that perception. Johnson himself has noticed as much, and he believes Bell’s next contract — the Steelers star will likely play out 2017 on his franchise tender, but another strong season could make for an interesting free agency case in 2018 — will have a ripple effect on the league’s top rushers. Johnson said, “We’re making the running back position more relevant, much more important. I feel like you need a running back to have a successful team. Hopefully starting with [Bell] getting the contract he deserves, hopefully that can jump start the running backs being more important in this league” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News).
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes that two of the world’s most notable unemployed men, Johnny Manziel and Colin Kaepernick, are represented by the same firm, Select Sports Group (though they are represented by different agents within the firm). Florio says that fact could create a conflict of interest, as both players are vying for the same quarterback jobs. Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal disagrees, as she points out that it is common for NFL agents to specialize in representing players at a certain position (Twitter link). Florio also says that, if Manziel gets an NFL job before Kaepernick — we learned yesterday Manziel has had conversations with several clubs, though it is unclear if they were serious conversations — it will intensify the claims that Kaepernick is being blackballed by the league. That proposition, too, seems suspect, as Kaepernick has not displayed much interest in continuing his football career, his visit to the Seahawks notwithstanding.
  • Lance Zierlien of NFL.com takes a look at 10 collegiate offensive linemen who could make a splash in the NFL in 2018. His list includes Ohio State’s Billy Price, who, like Vikings rookie and Ohio State product Pat Elflein, will switch from guard to center this year.

Multiple Teams Had Discussions With Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel has not played in the NFL since the 2015 season, and not currently being affiliated with a team as training camps near, the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback’s chances of a 2017 comeback are decreasing.

But Manziel said he’s had “a couple of discussions” with teams about a possible return to the league, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports (on Twitter). The Browns cut Manziel in March of 2016, and legal issues and strange off-the-field headlines seemed to distance him further from a possible comeback.

Multiple reports, however, linked Manziel to a potential return to the league. Saints coach Sean Payton had breakfast with the former first-round pick, but the team was not believed to have strong interest in the dual-threat signal-caller. New Orleans also went in a different direction in signing Chase Daniel and Ryan Nassib this offseason.

I know the situation I put myself in. I know the year off and obviously the mistakes that I made,” Manziel said, via Machota (on Twitter). “Right now, I’m hopeful. I’m really hopeful. I think that I made some progress in that regard, but we’ll see. Whenever I get a call, I’ll do whatever I can to make the most of it.”

Manziel declared himself sober months ago and was willing to submit to drug testing in advance of a comeback bid. The latest interest in the passer appears to be more on the exploratory side, but Manziel being just 24 may not rule out a reclamation project attempt from a team. But the longer the former Texas A&M superstar is out of football, the slimmer those hopes get.

It’s hard sitting here going through OTA time and going through summer time and then getting ready to go through fall camp and not being a part of it,” Manziel said, via Machota (Twitter link). “But at the same time, I’m really optimistic and hopeful that I’ll get another chance. That’s really what I’m holding out for every day.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Manziel, Falcons

Saints head coach Sean Payton had breakfast with free agent quarterback Johnny Manziel last week, but New Orleans has no plans to sign Manziel, a team source tells Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Indeed, Payton says his meeting with Manziel was focused on getting to know the young signal-caller, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes. In early March, there was word that Manziel was drawing “real” NFL interest, and Manziel says he is sober and focusing on his comeback.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Falcons hope to come to an extension agreement with cornerback Desmond Trufant “very soon,” Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff tells Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Earlier this month, a report indicated the Falcons and Trufant were nearing a “lucrative” long-term deal, but no announcement has since been made by the club. Atlanta is also planning to get a contract with running back Devonta Freeman “wrapped up,” per Dimitroff. In January, Freeman was said to be seeking “elite” running back money, but he and his agent have since walked those comments back.
  • Veteran guard Chris Chester isn’t in the Falcons‘ plans for 2017, and the team ultimately expects him to retire, according to Marvez. Chester, entering his age-34 season, was the weak link on a solid Atlanta offensive line in 2016. PFR pointed to right guard as an area of need when assessing the Falcons’ offseason strategy, and while the club has only added Hugh Thornton in free agency, they could still address the interior offensive line in the draft.
  • Jonathan Stewart‘s extension with the Panthers is for one year, but the new deal affects both his 2017 and 2018 cap charges, as Field Yates of ESPN.com reports. Stewart accepted a slight paycut in 2017 in exchange for an effective guarantee of $3.6MM, while the base values of his next two seasons are $4.25MM and $3.75MM. The veteran running back can also earn up to $750K annually via rushing yards incentives.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis considers cornerback and defensive “must” additions this offseason, according to Larry Holder of NOLA.com (Twitter link). So far, New Orleans has addressed those area with bit acquisitions, although the team is considering a big swing as they negotiate with Patriots restricted free agent corner Malcolm Butler.

Saints Interested In Johnny Manziel?

Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger and the Saints have to start thinking about who his successor might be. As the Saints explore backup QBs (and potential heirs), an unlikely name has popped up. Saints coach Sean Payton appears to have taken an interest in Johnny Manziel, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Payton and Manziel were spotted together having breakfast during Super Bowl week, he adds, and they discussed a return to football. There are no indications that the Saints are planning to sign him at this time, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes, but things can change.

[RELATED: Follow Pro Football Rumors On Instagram]

As Rapoport notes, the Saints could still take on another backup for Brees in 2017. As of this writing, Luke McCown is the only other QB on the roster, but I can’t imagine that a Manziel signing would displace him. McCown knows the playbook and would give New Orleans a safety net in the event that Manziel’s demons reemerge.

In early March, there was word that Manziel was drawing “real” NFL interest. Manziel says he is sober and focusing on his comeback and he’s reportedly willing to volunteer himself for drug testing. Of course, if he gets signed, the NFL will force Manziel to take frequent drug tests anyway. He’ll also likely have to serve a suspension before taking the field.

Manziel’s off-field behavior cost him his roster spot in Cleveland, but he didn’t do that much on the field either. The now 24-year-old made eight starts and played in 15 total games for Cleveland, completing 57% of his passes for 1,675 yards with seven touchdowns against seven interceptions. His overall passer rating was 74.4.

Photo via Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Johnny Manziel Drawing Real NFL Interest

After a Josh Gordon update on Wednesday morning, it’s only fitting that we get some Johnny Manziel news. The former Browns quarterback has re-hired agent Erik Burkhardt and is drawing “real interest” from teams at the Draft Combine, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter links). Johnny Manziel

[RELATED: Josh Gordon Applies For Reinstatement]

Last month, there was word that Manziel worked out for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the CFL, though the team strongly denied the report. A CFL stop would make sense for Manziel given his off-the-field issues and overall rust, but it sounds like some teams might be willing to kick the tires on the former A&M star.

Apparently, Manziel has made “serious commitments” to Burkhardt, which led to the two reuniting. As you may recall, Manziel went through multiple agents within a two month span last year. Power agent Drew Rosenhaus cut ties with Manziel when he was unable to get his substance issues under control.

In January, Manziel declared that he is sober and focusing on his comeback. Furthermore, he is reportedly willing to subject himself to drug testing to prove to a team that he is serious. Of course, if any team signs him, the league will force Manziel to take frequent drug tests anyway.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Auditions For CFL Team?

3:05pm: The GM of the Roughriders says the team is threatening to sue over the report (via TSN), so it sounds like it might be bogus.

1:38pm: Are we about to see the birth of Johnny Canadian Football? Johnny Manziel worked out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, according to Justin Dunk of The Hamilton Spectator. Johnny Manziel (vertical)

The workout took place in Florida in January, according to sources familiar with the situation. If that’s accurate, then Saskatchewan could face league discipline since Manziel’s CFL negotiation rights are held by Hamilton Tiger-Cats. For what it’s worth, Roughriders GM/coach Chris Jones denied that the team has made contact with Manziel.

Manziel was released by the Browns more than a year ago and ever since then he has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons. Then, last month, he declared that he is sober and focusing on his comeback. Furthermore, he is reportedly willing to subject himself to drug testing to prove to a team that he is serious. In theory, a successful run in the CFL could endear him to NFL teams.

Over the summer, the CFL’s commissioner said that he would not stand in the way of Manziel joining the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Will Volunteer For Drug Tests

It’s going to be extremely hard for any team to trust Johnny Manziel and that’s why the quarterback is taking extra steps to try and repair his image. To show that he is serious this time around, Manziel plans to volunteer for testing under the NFL’s drug policy as a part of his comeback attempt, a source tells Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Johnny Manziel (vertical)

[RELATED: Manziel Says He’s Sober]

The skeptic’s take on this would be that Manziel is simply volunteering for something that would be required of him anyway. Now, considered a “Stage Two” offender under the league’s drug policy, he would already be subject to random drug testing if signed by an NFL team. It remains to be seen whether Manziel is going to offer himself up to an even more rigorous random testing standard in the style of USADA’s monitoring.

Manziel has started working with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. to polish his skills and get back into football shape, Marvez hears. This week, he appeared in Houston to sign autographs but he declined to speak to the press.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Says He’s Sober, Looking Towards Comeback

Finally some good news on the Johnny Manziel front. Yesterday, Manziel admitted to ESPN’s Ed Werder that he’s sober and looking towards a comeback.

Johnny Manziel“I refuse to let my entire life of sports from the age of 4 be squandered by partying,” Manziel said. “I just got sick of it. One day I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and realized I could really help people in the position I’m in.

“I love sports, I love football and when you take something away from yourself you realize it the hard way. The happiness from doing it sober has been ASTRONOMICAL. Beyond my wildest imagination and once that continued other good things started happening in my life and it just clicked.”

On Thursday, the free agent quarterback tweeted that he hadn’t “been this happy in a long time,” and the 24-year-old thanked those who helped him through his “rough patches” in 2016. When asked what his next step was, Manziel said: “PLAY FOOTBALL. A pre season game, anything I don’t care what it is. Only need one team to believe in me and I’ll do anything to make that a possibility.”

2016 wasn’t a great year for the former Heisman Trophy winner. The Browns finally cut bait with the former first-rounder in March following a tumultuous two seasons with the organization. Manziel subsequently hired super agent Drew Rosenhaus for representation. However, the agent dropped his client following reports that Manziel’s partying was “out of control.”

Shortly thereafter, the NFL announced that they had suspended Manziel four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Since then, we’ve heard that CFL teams could have interest in the embattled quarterback. In late December, it was reported that Manziel had reached an agreement with prosecutors to dismiss a domestic violence charge against him.

Following a successful career at Texas A&M, Manziel struggled during his two seasons in Cleveland. In 14 career games (eight starts), Manziel connected on 57-percent of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The speedy quarterback also ran for 259 yards and one touchdown on 46 carries.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Reaches Deal With Prosecutors

Prosecutors have finalized an agreement with Johnny Manziel to dismiss a domestic violence charge against him, as The Associated Press writes. The former Heisman Trophy winner will have to meet certain conditions for a year before the charge is formally dropped. Johnny Manziel (vertical)

This agreement may remove one hurdle in Manziel’s path to an NFL return, but there are obviously a number of issues standing in his way. For one, the league reportedly has a six-game suspension waiting for Manziel in response to this charge, even though he will not serve jail time for it. Manziel must also show that he is making a real commitment to sobriety. Over the last two years, Manziel has made headlines for all the wrong reasons and he has yet to follow through on any of his pledges to get better. If Manziel can’t stay on the straight and narrow, no NFL team will roll the dice on him.

In the last year, two different agents have dropped Manziel. His last agent, Drew Rosenhaus, claimed that there was NFL interest in Manziel as recently as March, though I’m skeptical. Even if that is true, Manziel’s situation has deteriorated even further in the last nine months and any interest from clubs has surely waned.

Manziel has told people close to him that he is eyeing a 2017 NFL comeback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Collins, RG3, Manziel

Browns head coach Hue Jackson believes it would a “coup” for his club to re-sign linebacker Jamie Collins, as Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal details, and cornerback Joe Haden agrees. “It’s just been so many years of letting really good talent walk out the door,” Haden said. “If you really want to have something, you’ve got to keep them on board. Letting him out of the door, that would just be like the same thing over and over again.”

As of early November, Cleveland had not engaged in contract talks with Collins, whom it acquired from the Patriots days before the trade deadline in exchange for what will likely turn out to be a conditional third-round pick. However, the Browns would like to extend either Collins or wide receiver Terrelle Pryor soon so that the franchise tag remains in play for the other when free agency rolls around. Collins has denied a report that indicated he wanted “Von Miller money,” but he is reportedly aiming to top fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s $12.36MM annual average.

Here’s more on the Browns:

  • Quarterback Robert Griffin III will start practicing next week, Jackson told reporters, including Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), today. However, RG3 has yet to be officially cleared for contact, so it’s an open question as to what level of exertion he’ll be able to demonstrate. Cleveland would be able to bring Griffin back from injured reserve if it chooses to do so, and the club has given every indication that it will do just that.
  • Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel settled his civil suit with ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley months ago, and though no money was involved in the agreement, Manziel was issued a two-year protective order, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. That turn of events likely helped to bring about yesterday’s tentative settlement between Manziel and prosecutors, a deal that should see the quarterback’s charges dismissed.
  • While the two settlements represent good news for Manziel, not everything is rosy for the embattled quarterback. If Manziel ends up getting signed by an NFL club, he could be facing league penalties, as NFL chief disciplinary officer Todd Jones once told Jane McManus of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Manziel would be looking at a six-game suspension.