Johnny Manziel

Hue Jackson “Pushed Hard” For QB Trade This Offseason?

Prior to the 49ers snagging Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick that’s likely to fall at the top of Day 2, the Browns were the team most connected with the former Patriots backup this offseason. And Hue Jackson may have been a key driver behind that Garoppolo-to-Cleveland buzz.

The second-year Browns coach “pushed hard” this offseason for the team to trade for Garoppolo or former Bengals charge A.J. McCarron, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. Jackson felt Garoppolo could be a big part of a turnaround from Cleveland’s 1-15 season, Cabot reports, and made Tom Brady‘s then-backup his primary offseason target.

Cabot adds the Patriots would have traded Garoppolo to the Browns for “the right offer,” which the longtime Browns reporter notes would have had to include at least one first-round pick. The Browns had two of those going into the draft and ended up with three first-round selections while also carrying multiple second-round picks in April after making the Brock Osweiler trade.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the Browns offered a second-round pick for Garoppolo, with Cabot adding the team did not go further on Day 2 of this draft to make the necessary offer to the Pats. Browns executive VP Sashi Brown said going into the draft the team was not interested in trading for a veteran quarterback.

Kyle Shanahan and Garoppolo spent time together when the current 49ers coach worked as the Browns’ OC in 2014, and Shanahan told cleveland.com at this year’s Super Bowl he had Garoppolo ranked high among the draftable 2014 passers during his one-year stay in northeast Ohio. Shanahan did not want Johnny Manziel, whom the Browns drafted, nor did he prefer Teddy Bridgewater. However, the short-term Browns play-caller did like Derek Carr and Tom Savage, per Cabot.

When the Patriots and Browns could not agree on terms for Garoppolo, Jackson pivoted to McCarron, Cabot reports. But Jackson viewed the current Bengals backup, whom he coached for two seasons in Cincinnati, as a stopgap until the Browns could land their long-term solution.

Cabot wonders if McCarron would be in play by today’s 3pm CT deadline but reports it would have likely taken at least two second-round picks to pry him from the Bengals this offseason. McCarron is under contract through the 2018 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Won’t Play In CFL This Year

We won’t be seeing the birth of Johnny Canadian Football. At least, not this year. Johnny Manziel has been barred from playing in the CFL in 2017, the league’s commissioner announced on Wednesday. Johnny Manziel (vertical)

After an extensive process of due diligence and an in-person meeting with Mr. Manziel, the Commissioner has decided that he will not register any contract for Mr. Manziel for this season,” said the league in a statement. “However, Mr. Manziel will be eligible to sign a contract for the 2018 season and, if Mr. Manziel meets certain conditions that have been spelled out by the Commissioner, the CFL will register that contract. The specifics of those conditions are confidential and will not be disclosed. The CFL has extended the stay on the expiry of the 10-day window for Mr. Manziel until Nov. 30, 2017 and therefore Mr. Manziel will remain on Hamilton’s negotiation list until that date.”

Recently, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats worked out Manziel and, depending on who you ask, they may have had some interest in signing the controversial quarterback. The Ti-Cats have Manziel on their 45-man negotiation list, but the league will not green light a signing until next year.

Moments after the league rendered its decision, Manziel issued a statement of his own:

I recently had a really positive meeting with Commissioner Randy Ambrosie and welcomed the chance for us to get to know each other and have an in-depth talk about a possible future with the CFL. I love this game and want to be back on the field in a situation where I can help a franchise in the long term. Over the past months, my agent helped me vet all of my options for playing, figuring out where I could be most effective and get back to having the most fun with the game I love. I’m ready to play today, but we all agreed with the Commissioner that it made no sense for me to join a team with only a month left in the season – it wouldn’t have been fair to my teammates, coaches or the fan base. I want to come into a team and earn my job day one, like everyone else. I look forward to preparing myself as best I can and look forward to what the future holds.

Manziel, 25 in December, hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2015 campaign. In eight career starts for the Browns, the former first-round choice completed 57% of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel To Sign With CFL Team?

There were conflicting reports on how well Johnny Manziel did in his August audition for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Apparently, the quarterback performed well enough to garner real interest from the team. The expectation among other CFL clubs is that the league office will allow Hamilton to sign the former Texas A&M star, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) hears. JLC adds that he would be surprised if a signing does not happen. Johnny Manziel (vertical)

Hamilton holds Manziel’s CFL rights, which would theoretically pave the way for a deal. However, there have been whispers of the league effectively blackballing troubled players in the past. Depending on who you ask, Greg Hardy may have been blocked from signing with a team north of the border. League officials apparently will not stand in the way of Manziel making a return to the gridiron.

Manziel, 25 in December, has not been on the field since Dec. 27, 2015 when he was with the Browns. In eight career NFL starts, the former first-round choice completed 57% of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. His Browns went 2-6 in those games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Luck, Colts, Manziel, Kaepernick, RG3

In speaking with reporters on Thursday night, Colts owner Jim Irsay indicated that Andrew Luck is unlikely to suit up for Week 1, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (Twitter link). Interestingly, Irsay also insinuated that the matter is now more in Luck’s head rather than his shoulder.

Whether it’s mental or not, it sounds like the Colts will be without their No. 1 QB when they face the Rams on Sept. 10. Meanwhile, the Rams could be without their best defensive player.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Johnny Manziel‘s recent audition for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats went well enough for the team to maintain interest in the troubled quarterback. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats continue to discuss a contract, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Manziel “very much wants” to sign with the Tiger-Cats or another Canadian club, as he regards the CFL as a good avenue to return to competitive football, a source suggested to Fowler. Hamilton owns Manziel’s CFL rights, and if he decides to immigrate to that league, the Tiger-Cats would have a 10-day window to sign the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner or trade him. The 24-year-old Manziel last played in a game on Dec. 27, 2015, when he was with the Browns.
  • Speaking of high-profile, out-of-work signal-callers, NFL teams are not blackballing Colin Kaepernick over his political activism, anonymous executives and a coach who spoke with Albert Breer of The MMQB insist. The general belief among the group is that both Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III would have jobs if teams believed they could truly help. There are worse QBs (particularly backups) around the league than those two, but clubs are more comfortable with how their current reserves fit their offenses than either Kaepernick or RG3 would.
  • It would have been “negligent” for Pittsburgh to not look into signing cornerback Joe Haden after the Browns released him Wednesday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters, including Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Steelers added Haden shortly after the Browns parted with the eighth-year man. While Haden’s effectiveness has faded in recent seasons, the Steelers regard him as a “capable starter” and the type of player who’s not typically available in late August, per Colbert.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Johnny Manziel Auditioned For CFL Team

Former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel worked out for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Buffalo last week, according to Farhan Lalji and Dave Naylor of TSN.Johnny Manziel

Manziel won’t be heading north of the border, however, as the audition reportedly didn’t go well, as the Tiger-Cats don’t believe Manziel is in the correct game shape nor mental state. “Too many red flags,” one source told the TSN scribes. While that should perhaps come as no surprise given Manziel’s history of off-field incidents, he’d apparently been generating real NFL interest this year, and had talked to several clubs as of July.

However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk offers a slightly different account of Manziel’s workout: per Florio, the Tiger-Cats are still “extremely” interested in signing Manziel, and adds that there’s “much more” to the story. Hamilton has a “positive attitude” towards Manziel, meaning a deal could still come together.

Hamilton still holds Manziel’s CFL rights, meaning it would have the exclusive ability to sign him to a contract. If Manziel decides he’s ready to join the CFL, the Tiger-Cats would be allowed 10 days to either ink him to a contract or trade his rights to another club. New Hamilton head coach June Jones is reportedly the driving force behind the team’s Manziel interest, according to TSN.

Manziel is still only 24 years old, but he hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2015 campaign. In eight career starts for the Browns, the former first-round choice completed 57% of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Pondering Coaching Career

Johnny Manziel still wants to return to the NFL, but he’s starting to consider some alternatives in case that doesn’t come to fruition. The former Browns quarterback would like to coach, “probably” at the college level. Johnny Manziel (vertical)

I’d do something involved with sports. I can’t get away from it,” Manziel said (via ESPN.com). “I’ve had to ask myself that a little bit as of late over the past year, but at the same time I’d want to be involved in sports in some way, whether it’s coaching, whether it’s doing something like that. So I think that’d be my route.”

Manziel, 24, has no formal coaching experience, though he did serve as a coach at an Elite 11 quarterback camp in February. Despite all of his star power, Manziel’s bad behavior over the years might make it hard for him to get a foot in the door in the coaching world.

At the same time, it doesn’t appear that he has any real interest from NFL teams. The Cowboys did not give any thought to signing Manziel when mulling quarterback options in July and we haven’t gotten a whiff of any concrete interest in the QB since his Super Bowl week meeting with Saints coach Sean Payton. Meanwhile, Manziel personally said that he has only had “a couple of discussions” with teams about a potential return.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Likely To Sign Another QB

Third-string Cowboys quarterback Zac Dysert is expected to miss the 2017 season after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc, and Dallas is now likely to sign another signal-caller to replace him on the roster, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com.Colin Kaepernick (vertical)

While the Cowboys want to add a new quarterback, neither Colin Kaepernick nor Johnny Manziel is on the club’s radar, per Archer, who had reported in May that Kaepernick was “not a fit” for Dallas. Manziel, meanwhile, has reportedly had conversations with multiple teams concerning a return to the NFL, but it doesn’t sound like that comeback attempt will happen with the Cowboys.

Instead, Dallas is searching for a developmental passer, a young player who will help the club get through training camp. That rules out other veterans such as Robert Griffin III, Shaun Hill, and Christian Ponder, and also indicates the Cowboys are content with Kellen Moore as Dak Prescott‘s backup, reports Archer. Moore has only attempted 104 passes during his five-year career, but has a supporter in Dallas offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who calls Moore “a machine.”

Speculatively, 2017 undrafted free agents Austin Appleby (Florida) and Seth Russell (Baylor) could be candidates to join the Cowboys roster. Appleby had been a member of the Dallas squad until being waived last month to make room for Dysert, while the Cowboys auditioned Russell in late June but didn’t sign him. Either would be an option to compete with fellow 2017 UDFA Cooper Rush (Central Michigan) for Dallas’ No. 3 quarterback job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.