Johnny Manziel

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.

Johnny Manziel: I Was “Close” To NFL Deal

Johnny Manziel is heading north of the border to suit up with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Before agreeing to play in Canada, Manziel believes that he was on the cusp of landing an NFL contract.

I think it was close,” Manziel said (via PFT). “I did reach out and talk to multiple teams and coaches I had met in my first couple years in the league.

Ultimately, Manziel says he did not want to squander his opportunity to get things going in the CFL given the time that has passed since his last professional snap. In theory, Manziel could have waited for something to materialize in the NFL, or for a non-binding short-term deal in the Alliance of American Football in 2019, but he did not want to sit on the sidelines any longer.

It was really the wait,” he said. “I didn’t want to get into something down the road where I’m waiting until August, waiting until training camps open, and then if something doesn’t transpire I’m getting here late.”

Manziel agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Ti-Cats – the minimum length of a deal in the CFL – and it contains no possible outs for the NFL, as stipulated by league rules. In theory, the Ti-Cats could grant a request for release between now and 2020, but they are under no obligation to do so.

For now, it looks like Manziel will not resurface in the NFL before the end of this decade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Rams, Manziel, Eagles, Colts

The majority of the 2018 NFL Draft class is now signed, but that’s not the case in Los Angeles. The Rams have yet to sign a single pick.

Should fans be concerned? To put it simply, no.

This isn’t new to the team, as Michael David Smith of PFT writes, as it likes to address financial planning with its players before giving them a large signing bonus. Like in years past, the Rams rookies will all generally sign at once sometime in the next few weeks.

“One of the things that we think is important with that is bringing the rookies in as a group, having them live together as a group, and not having any real differentiation between the first-round pick and the undrafted rookie,” Demoff said. “They’re in the hotel together. They’re eating meals together. They’re doing things together. And then [by the time] they all scatter, we’ll sign their contracts. They’ll leave knowing the contract’s done, so they don’t have to worry about that headache when they go on vacation.”

So no need to panic Rams fans. This is par for the course.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Eagles signed running back Matt Jones earlier in the week. The Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski has the details at two years for $1.5MM, none of which are guaranteed (Twitter link). He joins a crowded backfield that includes Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles.
  • The Colts have had visits from Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston and Bashaud Breeland in recent days. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star tweets, however, the meetings were merely informational and no signings are imminent.
  • And we’ll also make pitstop in the CFL, where Johnny Manziel is not guaranteed to start for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith writes. Smith quotes head coach June Jones, who praised current starter and former Oregon standout Jeremiah Masoli. “Let me tell you something right now, he’s got his work ahead of him to beat out Jeremiah,” Jones said of Manziel. “He’s got a lot to catch up on, but he’ll spend the time to get that done. I know he will because he’s already learned that lesson.” Though Masoli has the leg up, it won’t be long before Manziel is given the reins, given he can stay out of trouble.

Extra Points: Manziel, Thomas, Bolts, Browns

It does not appear the Johnny Manziel saga will return to the NFL until at least the end of the decade. Manziel’s two-year contract with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats is a binding deal, and CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets no escape clause for the purposes of venturing to the NFL exists in the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The CFL previously voted on a possible escape-hatch option, but the proposal was rejected. La Canfora adds Manziel’s professional football options will come exclusively in Canada for the next two years (Twitter link). The NFL may be a faraway bridge considering how the former Heisman Trophy winner fared in his two years with the Browns and the many months that went by without any team showing significant interest.

As for Manziel’s deal, La Canfora reports (on Twitter) the 25-year-old passer will earn a $122K base salary in 2018. An additional $10K signing bonus is included, as well as an $18K housing stipend. La Canfora adds $10K escalators will trigger if Manziel hits six-, 10- and 14-game benchmarks this season. He’ll receive a $120K bonus if he plays in half the snaps, per JLC, and a $75K offseason bonus is due on March 1, 2019. Manziel’s 2019 salary spikes to $202K, and the same incentives are present.

Shifting back to the NFL, here’s the latest:

  • In supporting his former Seahawks teammate, Richard Sherman revealed a bit about Earl Thomas‘ goals for what will be his third NFL contract. “I think Earl Thomas deserves the money he’s asking for,” Sherman told former teammate and current NFL Network analyst Michael Robinson on Saturday (via NFL.com). “I think he deserves to be compensated as the top safety in the league. Whether Seattle does that or not is up to them.” Financial figures haven’t really emerged regarding this potential standoff, but if the Seahawks are to pay top dollar for their three-time All-Pro defender, it will cost them more than $13MM per year. And that could be a bridge too far for a retooling team that’s dangled Thomas in trades. When Thomas agreed to his initial Seattle extension, his $10MM-per-year salary paced NFL safeties. Five are now ahead of him.
  • Hue Jackson has repeatedly said he would like Tyrod Taylor to start throughout this season. But cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot does not see the Browns opting to re-sign Taylor after this season. She expects Mayfield to make a serious charge for the starting role at some point this season. If it turns out Taylor is a catalyst that leads the Browns to a major turnaround, Cabot expects him to hit the market as a coveted commodity — and one the Browns will not be paying for — in 2019.
  • The Chargers drafted Kevin White‘s younger brother, Kyzir White, in the fourth round. And the Bolts will move Kyzir from safety to linebacker, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Denzel Perryman has one of Los Angeles’ linebacker spots locked down, with Kyle Emanuel and former seventh-round pick Hayes Pullard tentatively slotted in the other spots. The Bolts also drafted USC’s Uchenna Nwosu in the second round. But it doesn’t appear White will factor into the Bolts’ safety picture behind Jahleel Addae and Derwin James at this time.
  • The Saints gave UDFA tight end Deon Yelder $90K guaranteed to sign, Joel Erickson of The Advocate notes. A former wide receiver recruit at Western Kentucky, Yelder spent time behind current Rams tight end Tyler Higbee and current Seahawks left tackle George Fant while with the Hilltoppers prior to receiving plenty of playing time last season. New Orleans has struggled to replace Jimmy Graham and recently cut Coby Fleener. Yelder will try to make a team that has 37-year-old Benjamin Watson and Josh Hill atop its depth chart.
  • In a lower-stakes matter, the Patriots have $215 committed to Malcolm Butler on this year’s payroll, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Apparently, one day of workout cash last offseason didn’t get tallied until now.

QB Johnny Manziel Signs With CFL Team

Johnny Manziel has found a job… in the CFL. The embattled quarterback announced on Twitter (via Barstool Sports) that he will be signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

Manziel will sign a two-year deal, and he’ll be barred from joining the NFL until his contract is up. As NESN.com’s Dog Kyed tweets, the Tiger-Cats could do the quarterback a favor and release him following the 2018 season. However, that’d be solely at the team’s discretion.

“Made the decision today to sign my contract with the CFL and further my football career after a long break,” Manziel said in a separate tweet. “Very grateful for everyone that’s been supporting me along the way. I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I’m eager for what the future holds.”

We had heard earlier this month that Manziel had been drawing interest from Hamilton, although reports indicated that the quarterback was wary of the two-year obligation. The 25-year-old was reportedly willing to accept a practice squad deal with no guaranteed money, but no NFL teams bit on the former first-rounder. Manziel had also been loosly connected to the upcoming XFL reboot and the Alliance of American Football.

Manziel will also be dipping his toes into the broadcast industry, as he announced a “partnership” with Barstool Sports. He’ll be hosting a podcast alongside Kayce Smith and his agent, Erik Burkhardt.

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-percent 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.

The 2018 CFL season is set to kick off in June, so Manziel will have some work to do to get on the field for opening day. The Tiger-Cats are currently rostering another pair of quarterbacks with NFL connections. Dane Evans, a 2017 undrafted free agent out of Tulsa, spent last preseason with the Eagles. Jeremiah Masoli, who played college ball at Mississippi and Oregon, had a brief stint with the 49ers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Johnny Manziel Weighing Options

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL would like to sign Johnny Manziel, but the former Browns standout has reservations about going north of the border. Specifically, Manziel is wary of the CFL’s policy that players must commit for two seasons. With that in mind, Manziel is also considering the upstart Alliance of American Football, Mike Florio of PFT hears. 

[RELATED: AAF To Launch In February 2019]

Manziel is reportedly willing to accept a practice squad deal with no guaranteed money to prove that he belongs in the NFL, but it’s not clear if any teams are interested at this time. It’s possible that teams could give more serious thought to signing Manziel once they start releasing players, including undrafted free agents that aren’t up to par, from the 90-man roster.

The former Heisman Trophy winner would probably draw some serious dollars for the Tiger-Cats and the CFL as a whole, so it’s conceivable that the league could amend its policy to accommodate him. Meanwhile, the Tiger-Cats made a trade with the Montreal Alouettes this week that could give them the cap space necessary to give Manziel a contract worth more than the league minimum.

The AAF will launch in February 2019 – just after the Super Bowl – so Manziel will have to wait a while if that’s the route he plans to take.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Smith, Manziel, Rams

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Former Raiders and 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is “being transferred to an inpatient substance abuse treatment center as he awaits his next court date” (via ESPN.com). Smith was arrested last week after violating the conditions of his monitoring. The “order for Smith to remain in custody in rehab” is indefinite, according to a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office. Last month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges following a March incident. The Raiders still released the trouble defender soon after the initial arrest.
  • The CFL could provide quarterback Johnny Manziel with a path back to the NFL, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that the transition wouldn’t be immediate. A source told the reporter that the CFL won’t “soften” the rule that requires a two-year commitment from their players, meaning if Manziel joined the league, he wouldn’t be able to sign with an NFL team until at least 2020. Florio writes that the quarterback could shift his focus to the Alliance of American Football, a spring league that is set to launch in 2019.
  • In an interview with TheRams.com, recently-acquired cornerback Aqib Talib explained why he wanted to be traded to the Rams. “Well, I’m in the later half of my career and I just wanted to be comfortable,” Talib said. “Wherever I went, I wanted to be comfortable and there was no time in the NFL where I was more comfortable playing football than with Wade Phillips. He’€™s like a guru at putting guys in position to succeed. So if I was going to go somewhere I wanted to be comfortable and I’€™m definitely comfortable here in L.A.”
  • The Rams are already working on a new deal with Aaron Donald, and general manager Les Snead acknowledged that the defensive tackle will ultimately make more than new teammate Ndamukong Suh. “The nice thing about Ndamukong,” Snead said during an appearance on The MMQB Podcast with Peter King (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com), “at age 31 and somebody who’s been the highest-paid defensive player in football, winning was very important in this phase of his career…He’s well aware that when you can partner, be beside someone who is on the verge of being the highest-paid defensive player in football, then that’s a really good thing. I guess you’d say two is better than one.”

Extra Points: Manziel, Saints, Broncos, Webster

Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel kicked off his comeback efforts today in Texas, playing two quarters in the Spring League. NFL teams took notice, with at least eight teams sending representatives, according to Yahoo’s Charles Robinson (Twitter link).

Robinson also noted that at least 17 NFL teams have caught a glimpse of Manziel this week as he ramped up activities. Though it is a long way from the NFL, the appearance marked Manziel’s first on a professional field since December 2015.

Manziel’s overall goal, of course, is to land an NFL contract and he is reportedly willing to accept a practice squad deal with no guaranteed money to prove that he belongs in the league. If he can not catch on with a team, the Heisman Trophy winner has not ruled out a move to the CFL.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • After the trade of Aqib Talib, the Broncos could use a little depth at the cornerback spot. According to Denver 7 ABC’s Troy Renck, former Denver defensive back Kayvon Webster be interested in returning to the team (Twitter link). Renck notes the Broncos are more likely to see what their options are in the draft before bringing back Webster, who played four seasons in Denver before spending time with the Rams in 2017.
  • The Lions have an opening at tight end after the departure of Eric Ebron to the Colts. The team thinks 2017 rookie Michael Roberts could fill that role, Tim Twentyman of detroitlions.com writes. Roberts only caught four passes during his first season in the league, but the fourth-round pick does offer intriguing upside. As a senior at Toledo, he hauled in a whopping 16 touchdowns.
  • In February, Michigan defensive tackle and potential first-round pick Maurice Hurst was not allowed to participate in the NFL Combine after doctors discovered a heart condition. He was not later needed for a medical recheck, a common practice in the NFL, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. A recheck is only needed when further imaging or examination is deemed necessary.

 

Latest On Johnny Manziel

A look at Johnny Manziel as he gets set to make his Spring League debut:

  • Manziel is scheduled to play roughly half of his team’s offensive snaps on Saturday coach Terry Shea tells ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert. That’s going to be standard procedure for the league, which has eight quarterbacks spread out among its four teams. Manziel will play the first and third quarters for the South team on Saturday, while Cody Keith, who played at East Carolina and in the CFL, will handle the second and fourth quarters. Besides Manziel, former Titan Zach Mettenberger is the most notable quarterback in The Spring League.
  • Recent comments by Manziel regarding his time with the Browns drew some criticism. “If Cleveland did any of their homework they would have known I wasn’t a guy who came in every day and watched film,” Manziel on The Dan Patrick Show (Twitter link). “I wasn’t a guy who really knew the X’s and O’s of football.”
  • Those comments won’t hurt Manziel’s bid to return to the NFL, in the opinion of Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Garafolo doesn’t believe that the former first-round pick was was trying to make excuses or shift blame, so it likely won’t be a strike against him with coaches. Manziel is reportedly willing to accept a practice squad deal with no money guaranteed if necessary, so it sounds like he has humbled himself and is willing to put in the work this time around.