Johnny Manziel

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 ProFootballTalk.com (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 ESPN.com (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 ESPN.com 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 Cleveland.com 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 AL.com. 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 SI.com. 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.

CFL Reinstates “NFL Window”

Previously, Canadian Football League players had to sign a minimum two-year contract to join a team, and the league didn’t provide an out for those looking to jump to the NFL. Well, it sounds like the CFL has softened its stance, as TSN’s David William Naylor reports that the league has voted to reinstate their “NFL window.” The league had voted against this change earlier this year.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explains, this would allow “certain players to work out for NFL teams and sign contracts that would become effective at the end of a given CFL season.” That way, instead of being obligated to the CFL for two seasons, players would have the ability to sign with an NFL team after only one season in Canada.

However, as Florio points out, the rule would only apply to players who ink contracts after August 20th of this year. That means players like quarterback Johnny Manziel, who signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back in May, won’t be able to join the NFL until their contracts expire. The rule change also wouldn’t apply to running back Dexter McCluster, who recently signed with the Toronto Argonauts. On the flip side, if a player signs after August 20th, they’d have the ability to return to the NFL next year.

Florio wonders if the CFL may have been pressured by the developing spring football leagues, which will presumably provide players with the ability to return to the NFL. Ultimately, Florio believes this change could eventually lead to the CFL allowing one-year contracts or a clear NFL-out clause. As Naylor observes, the rule also came about due to Toronto Argonauts running back James Wilder‘s threats to sit out the entire CFL season due to his inability to join an NFL team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Titans, Dodd, Kearse, Manziel, Patriots,

It’s a crucial offseason for Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd. Despite being the first pick of the second round back in 2016, his early draft status doesn’t assure him of anything due to his lack of production his first two years in the league. Dodd is apparently skipping voluntary OTAs, and will find himself squarely on the roster bubble heading into the 2018 season writes Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com, who says “he’s going to have to earn his spot on the team.”

With a brand new coaching staff that has no ties to him, it’s a puzzling move for Dodd to be skipping OTAs. He was a much hyped prospect coming out of college, but has appeared in just 18 games through two seasons, making only 12 total tackles.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel has repeatedly deflected when asked about Dodd, and as Wyatt points out, the Titans have a lot of bodies at outside linebacker. The team recently drafted Harold Landry in the second round, a sign that their patience with Dodd is wearing thin. If he doesn’t turn it around soon, Dodd might not be on the team that spent the 33rd overall pick on him just two years ago much longer.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Jermaine Kearse is due a non-guaranteed $5MM salary this season, leading some to speculate he could be cut by the Jets. He’s currently no higher than fourth on their wide receiver depth chart and is quite expensive for a fourth option. But Darryl Slater of NJ.com thinks Kearse will make it through final cuts, saying “ultimately, I think Kearse sticks with the Jets in 2018.” As Slater points out, Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor are both working their way back from injuries, while Robby Anderson still might be suspended by the league, so the Jets may end up counting on Kearse far more than a typical fourth wide receiver.
  • Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel made his return to professional football yesterday, playing in a preseason game with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Manziel finished the night going 9-of-12 for 80 yards (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN). After recently signing with the Tiger-Cats, Manziel will have to spend at least the next two seasons in Canada as he attempts to make a return to the NFL.
  • Patriots rookie undrafted cornerback J.C. Jackson is receiving first-team reps at OTAs and seems to be in good position to make the team, according to Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Kyed notes that the Patriots have a history of discovering undrafted gems at cornerback, including Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. Jackson was seen as a day three prospect by evaluators based on talent, but went undrafted due to off-field concerns according to Kyed.

Extra Points: Anthem, Kaepernick, Manziel

The NFL’s new anthem policy has received a great deal of backlash, but another idea previously considered by owners also would have faced some opposition. Team owners considered a 15-yard penalty against teams that partake in anthem protests, but that move wouldn’t have necessarily gone over well with the league’s officials.

It would not be in my DNA to throw a flag on someone for their personal protest regardless of whether or not I agreed with them,” former ref Mike Pereira told Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, players are up in arms about the policy that was enacted on Wednesday. Klemko hears (Twitter link) that players who weren’t planning demonstrations for next season are now discussing ways to skirt the new rules “just to spite the NFL.”

More from around the football world:

  • President Donald Trump weighed in on the NFL’s new anthem policy shortly after it was announced. “You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem. You shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe they shouldn’t be in the country…the NFL owners did the right thing,” Trump said (Twitter link via FOX News). It remains to be seen whether Trump will continue to stir the pot on an issue that threatens the league’s bottom line and its relationship with players.
  • The NFL used a polling firm to gauge public opinion on Colin Kaepernick “four months into” his 2017 free agency, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports hears. The firm polled fans on other NFL-related topics – including domestic violence, gambling, player protests, and player safety – but Kaepernick was the only player singled out in the research for specific opinions. The development could have an impact on Kaepernick’s ongoing collusion case against the league.
  • Johnny Manziel is likely to serve as the backup quarterback for the CFL’s Tiger-Cats, coach June Jones says (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com). Barring something unforeseen, Jones expects to use former Oregon and Mississippi QB Jeremiah Masoli as his starter throughout the year. If that plan holds up, it would be a fairly significant barrier to Manziel’s planned NFL comeback. Then again, Manziel likely won’t be in the NFL conversation anytime soon after signing a binding two-year deal with Hamilton.