Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel Has “Zero Desire” To Play

Over the weekend, Johnny Manziel took to social media to make his case to the XFL. Then, he deleted his Twitter account. Hours later, he returned to the platform to let the world know that he has “zero desire to play any football these days. [I] just love stirring up controversy” (Twitter link). 

Indeed, Manziel has been a lightning rod for controversy throughout his career and post-career. During the early planning stages of the XFL 2.0, many were quick to connect the former first-round pick to Vince McMahon’s reboot. However, the league has shied away from Manziel.

Johnny has his own history, and we have coaches from the CFL who have seen him close up,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said when asked about Johnny Football recently. “He was in the draft pool. Coaches and scouts looked at him and didn’t think he was going to help their team. I think the guys we have on our teams are the best 560 that aren’t playing in the National Football League.”

This, apparently, marks the end of Manziel’s professional football career. Manziel, who won’t turn 28 until December, has not played in the NFL the 2015 season. At one point in time, the Saints were rumored to have interest in him, but there has been no real chatter about Manziel in NFL circles this offseason.

After capturing the Heisman Trophy following the 2012, the Texas A&M star wasn’t able to do much as a pro. In two seasons, he appeared in 14 games (eight starts) and completed 57% of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also tacked on another 259 rushing yards off of 46 totes.

Meanwhile, off the field, he’s been embroiled in a number of controversies, including a 2016 investigation into domestic violence allegations. Later, he was suspended for four games in the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

XFL Commissioner On Manziel, Kaepernick

The XFL is still weeks away from its relaunch, but Vince McMahon’s second try at professional football has already come under fire for its refusal to allow players to leave for the NFL. In an interview with Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times, commissioner Oliver Luck made it clear that the policy won’t change anytime soon. 

If there’s one thing we learned from watching the Alliance it was that quarterback play is critical,” Luck said. “In the game of football today — whether it’s pro, college or even high school arguably — your quarterback play is determinative. So we made an effort to sign guys, some of whom played in the AAF but the vast majority didn’t.”

The league’s policy already prevented Josh Johnson from joining the Lions back in November. Critics felt that the XFL should have allowed the veteran to go to Detroit, but Luck & Co. held him to his commitment with the Los Angeles Wildcats.

We said, ‘No, we’re keeping him. He ours. He signed a contract. He’s committed to us,’” Luck said. “Once a player signs a contract — once he passes his physical and signs a contract — then he’s under contract with us. We won’t release that player to the NFL until after our season. We need certainty. We can’t just have guys peeling off.”

Luck also disclosed that the Steelers inquired on Landry Jones and Phillip Walker after Ben Roethlisberger‘s injury. The XFL, of course, turned down both requests.

While the XFL protects its own signal callers, they won’t go chasing the two biggest names on the open market. Luck sounded less than enthusiastic about the possibility of Johnny Manziel and Colin Kaepernick joining the fledgling league.

“Johnny has his own history, and we have coaches from the CFL who have seen him close up,” Luck said when asked about Johnny Football. “He was in the draft pool. Coaches and scouts looked at him and didn’t think he was going to help their team. I think the guys we have on our teams are the best 560 that aren’t playing in the National Football League.”

As for Kaepernick, Luck characterized his “salary demands” as being “way out of [the XFL’s] ballpark.” As a result, he was “never really a viable option,” for the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Lewis, XFL, Manziel

When Arizona State announced they were hiring former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards, the decision was met with a lot of ridicule. Nobody’s laughing now though, as Edwards has done a near-universally praised job turning around the program the last couple of years. Edwards has emphasized that he’s running the program like an NFL team, and he’s hired a bunch of ex-NFL guys to fill out his staff. Apparently, a few of those guys might be eyeing a return to the league. Former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who serves as an advisor to ASU, is going to be in “serious consideration” for an NFL head coaching job next cycle, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter video link).

Lewis was fired by the Bengals following last season after 16 years at the helm in Cincinnati. He was never able to win a playoff game but he completely changed the Bengals’ culture for the better and turned them into a consistent winner, making the playoffs seven times and winning the AFC North four times. Lewis caught a lot of flak toward the end of his tenure in Cincy when things got stale, but the Bengals’ 0-6 start in 2019 sure makes him look a lot better by comparison. It’ll be very interesting to see if he starts getting interviews as Garafolo predicts.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Lewis isn’t the only one on ASU’s staff who might get poached. Linebackers coach Antonio Pierce is “going to be a coach in the NFL sometime very soon,” Garafolo says. Pierce spent ten years as a linebacker in the league, most notably with the Giants. The former pro bowler, who last played in 2009, won Super Bowl XLII with New York. Garafolo also highlights former NFL receiver and Arizona State alum, Derek Hagan, as someone who could make the jump to the NFL soon. He currently serves as an analyst for the Sun Devils.
  • The XFL draft was held recently, and Johnny Manziel wasn’t one of the names called. That’s quite foolish from the league’s perspective, opines Mike Florio of Florio notes that Manziel has expressed interest in playing in the upstart league, but XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said the league’s interest “remains to be seen” a few months ago and hasn’t provided an update since. “The sooner they add him to a team, the sooner the XFL will build the buzz that it sorely is lacking,” Florio writes. It’s hard to argue with Florio on this one. Manziel played briefly in the AAF, but hasn’t gotten any known interest from an NFL team in quite some time. He’s already burned a bridge with the CFL, so getting added to Vince McMahon’s league would seem to be his last option for the moment.
  • Recently released Buccaneers linebacker Devante Bond has been suspended four games, a source told Jenna Laine of Laine reports that he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Bond was just cut a few days ago, and it’s highly possible the Bucs knew this was coming when they decided to part ways. Bond was drafted by Tampa in the sixth-round out of Oklahoma back in 2016, and missed his entire rookie season due to a hamstring injury. He’s started six games the past two seasons.

Johnny Manziel Still Focused On NFL

Johnny Manziel – who prefers to go by John Manziel these days – is out of work following the collapse of the AAF. Still, the former Browns quarterback says he is focused on making his way back to the NFL. 

For everyone asking me what the next move is and all the crazy assumptions out there, I’ll be the one to set it straight,” Manziel wrote on Instagram. “I have one single goal right now and that is to get back to the NFL. Until that call comes or the opportunity presents itself I will be working every single day to be prepared. I plan on spending time with my family in Texas and getting back around the University I love with all of my heart. Thank you for all the support over the years it truly means the world.”

Manziel has been out of the NFL for three years now, but he has been connected to the Saints and a few other clubs in recent years. Right now, it seems like Manziel will still have to prove himself elsewhere – both on the field and off – before getting another NFL opportunity.

The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and 2014 first-round pick struggled during his two years with the Browns. The Texas A&M product ultimately appeared in 14 games (eight starts) for Cleveland, completing 57% of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also added another 259 rushing yards on 46 attempts. Manziel has faced a long list of controversies over the years, including a 2012 arrest while he was in college and a 2016 investigation into domestic violence allegations. He was later suspended for four games during the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Signs With AAF

UPDATE, 8:48PM: Manziel will officially be heading to the Memphis Express, according to Mike Florio of (Twitter link). He’ll be playing for former 49ers coach Mike Singletary in Memphis.

7:14pm: Johnny Football is back. Johnny Manziel has signed a contract with the new upstart league the Alliance of American Football, according to Adam Schefter of (Twitter link).

This news comes a little over two weeks after Manziel was released by his CFL team. Schefter writes Manziel has “signed the Alliance of American Football Standard Player Agreement.” The AAF gives every player the same contract, for three years and $250K. It pays $70K in the first year, $80K in the second, and $100K in the third.

In a follow-up tweet Schefter writes that the San Antonio Commanders, the team who held Manziel’s rights based on where he played college ball, passed on signing him. Manziel will now enter the league’s waiver system, which will allow the team with the lowest winning percentage to submit a claim first and so on. The team currently with the lowest winning percentage is the Memphis Express, who currently has former NFLer’s Christian Hackenberg and Zach Mettenberger on the roster.

Manziel was a first round pick of the Browns back in 2014, but flamed out after just two seasons in the NFL. The former Heisman Trophy winner spent a while out of football, but has since been working on a comeback. His time in Canada didn’t go particularly smoothly, and now he’s looking to prove he can still play stateside.

The AAF offered him a workout shortly after he was cut by the CFL, and an arrangement between the two sides always made a ton of sense. Manziel will get a platform to showcase his abilities alongside a bunch of former NFL players as he tries to get back to the league, and the AAF will get a huge boost in visibility and interest.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AAF Extends Manziel Workout Opportunity

A day after Johnny Manziel‘s CFL exit, the Alliance of American Football is interested to see what the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback can contribute.

Since his dismissal from the Montreal Alouettes/ban from the Canadian league, Manziel has been in contact with the AAF, according to Kevin Allen and Tom Schaad of USA Today. The new league is offering the 26-year-old passer a chance to work out for its teams. The XFL has not been in contact with Manziel, a league spokesperson told USA Today.

However, at this point it remains unknown if the embattled quarterback will decide to take part in such an audition. Although, Manziel tweeted shortly after his release the CFL reinvigorated his passion for football and that he was looking forward to “exploring new options within the United States.”

While the San Antonio Commanders own Manziel’s rights, due to the territorial system the AAF is using in its first year, league chairman Tom Dundon said personnel from all eight of the league’s teams would be invited to Manziel’s workout.

Right now, it’s a decision of the GMs, and they can decide what they want to do,” Dundon said, via Allen and Schaad. “If talent-wise this is close, the negative of him is that there is drama with him and you are trying to win games and build a team. The positive is that he brings in fans and attention.”

The Commanders have not been in communication with Manziel, per a team spokesman, but they would have the first chance to sign him. The other seven teams could then enter the equation if San Antonio passes. Manziel would not receive a larger salary than other AAFers, according to Dundon. AAF players are each attached to non-guaranteed three-year deals worth $250K.

A 2014 Browns first-round pick, Manziel has not been a particularly good quarterback since his Texas A&M days. He washed out of Cleveland, amid persistent trouble, after the 2015 season and threw more interceptions than touchdown passes in his brief CFL run. But Manziel would be a big draw for the AAF, which has gotten off to a nice start (financial issues notwithstanding) without many big names.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Montreal Alouettes Release Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel‘s time with the Montreal Alouettes is over, and it’s possible the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback’s run in the CFL is as well.

The Alouettes, who traded two first-round picks to acquire Manziel last year, released him on Wednesday, the team announced. The CFL also announced it will not approve a Manziel contract if another team plans to sign him.

Manziel violated his Montreal contract, according to the team. It is not clear how. But the quarterback is now a free agent, though he did not contribute much in Canada. He played in eight Alouettes games last season, throwing five touchdown passes compared to seven interceptions.

We are disappointed by this turn of events. Johnny was provided a great deal of support by our organization, in collaboration with the CFL, but he has been unable to abide by the terms of his agreement,” Montreal GM Kavis Reed said. “We worked with the league and presented alternatives to Johnny, who was unwilling to proceed.”

The former Browns first-round pick has an extensive history of off-field trouble, but it remains to be seen what led to his departure after one CFL season.

This obviously comes at an interesting time, considering the Alliance of American Football has begun play and XFL 2.0 is reaching out to players about being part of its 2020 return. Although Manziel is far removed from being a productive quarterback, he remains a big name and could attract interest in one of the two American winter-spring leagues.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Manziel, LaFell

Johnny Manziel is back. Sort of. On Friday night, the former Browns quarterback will make his first CFL start with his new club, the Montreal Alouettes.

I feel fortunate enough this week to be going against a team, a defense that I’ve seen more than any other defense since I’ve been in the CFL,” Manziel told reporters as he prepares to face his former team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (via TSN). “I feel like I really know this personnel very well, I feel like I know this team in and out because I was a part of it.”

Manziel, of course, is hoping to impress on the elongated CFL field and return to the NFL. It remains to be seen whether he’ll get another chance south of the border, but NFL evaluators will certainly be keeping a watchful eye on his performance.

Here’s a look at the AFC North:

  • Brandon LaFell‘s agent says that his client asked to be released from the Bengals, but a team source says that the decision was not made based on LaFell’s desire to play elsewhere, Katherine Terrell of tweets. It sounds like the source had not heard of any such request by LaFell, but even if the wide receiver asked to be let go, it’s doubtful such a request would have been granted anyway. The source told Terrell that the move was made to give the club’s young receivers more reps.
  • The Browns are trying All-Pro guard Joel Bitonio at left tackle, as Mary Kay Cabot of writes. Recently, Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie said playing Bitonio at left tackle was the club’s “Plan Z.” Apparently, it only took a matter of days for the team to work its way through the alphabet. If the Browns opt to use Bitonio on the outside in September, it will probably result in Shon Coleman going to the bench with No. 33 overall pick Austin Corbett starting at left guard. Alternatively, one has to wonder if the Browns will explore external tackle options in order to keep Bitonio at his natural position.
  • No one will confuse Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson for a Mr. Universe contestant, but the Louisville product says that he is not planning on gaining a significant amount of weight.
  • The Steelers recently learned that guard Ramon Foster will not require surgery to fix his knee.

Extra Points: Gates, Chargers, Manziel, Richardson, AAF, Anthem

Chargers GM Tom Telesco acknowledged ongoing talks with TE Antonio Gates’ representation Thursday, but no deal” tweets Eric D. Williams of ESPN. Telesco also added that he believes Gates “can still be effective in the Chargers’ offense.” The Chargers looked set to move on earlier this offseason, but then Hunter Henry was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The team immediately expressed interest in bringing back Gates, but things have been slow moving ever since.

It’s unclear what is holding up contract talks, but it’s not a huge deal for a player who’s been around as long as Gates has to miss some of training camp. Perhaps he just wants to wait as long as possible and put little wear on his body before returning right before the regular season. Gates has said he has no intention of retiring, and it’s extremely unlikely he signs with any other team than the Chargers. A deal should get done at some point, and it would be a surprise if it isn’t announced soon. The future Hall of Fame inductee turned 38 in June.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • The Montreal Alouettes had been targeting Johnny Manziel for a while before they finally ended up trading for him, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. The Alouettes had tried to acquire Manziel’s rights before he even signed with the CFL, but were rebuffed.
  • Former number three overall pick Trent Richardson will sign with the Birmingham team in the newly created AAF, according to Matt Zenitz of Richardson flamed out with the Browns and then Colts, and will be looking to revive his football career in the upstart league.
  • The league and NFLPA have been talking and negotiating about the anthem policy since before the July 4th holiday, a source told Albert Breer of Breer disagrees with the league’s course of action, arguing the new “policy was a poor way to try to move the focus back to football.”

Hamilton Trades Johnny Manziel To Montreal

Johnny Manziel will now be on a second Canadian Football League franchise in his first season up north. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats agreed to trade the former NFL first-rounder to the Montreal Alouettes, Duane Forde of TSN reports (on Twitter).

This is a five-player deal, per Forde (on Twitter), but one that will send the one-time Browns bust to a place where he figures to have a better chance of seeing playing time.

The coach who recruited Manziel to Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, serves as Montreal’s head coach. Though Sherman was not the Aggies’ coach during Manziel’s Heisman Trophy season in 2012, he was on board during the quarterback’s redshirt season in ’11.

The Alouettes have already tried three quarterbacks — Drew Willy, Jeff Mathews and Matt Shiltz — this season, and as PFT’s Michael David Smith points out, currently sport the CFL’s worst offense. The Tiger-Cats have used just one passer, Jeremiah Masoli, all season. Thirteen games remain on the Alouettes’ docket.

Manziel’s CFL contract runs through the 2019 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.