After a tumultuous two seasons in the NFL, Johnny Manziel was out of the pros in 2016. He has suffered due to a lack of discipline and poor play, including the team around him when he played in Cleveland. While Manziel showed some flashes, he ultimately was not what the Browns were looking for, and after a domestic violence charge came up, he was released in early 2016. After a year off, a stint in rehab, and some personal work, the former Texas A&M star is ready to compete for a job in the NFL again. There are plenty of teams in need of a quarterback, and word is that not many executives are high on this year’s draft class. Now that the first wave of free agency is over and some teams may still be looking for a signal caller, here are a few team names that could be thrown around in the hunt for Manziel, if they believe he is ready to come back and earn his spot.
A sort of homecoming for Manziel, he could return to the team that selected him 22nd overall in the 2014 Draft, but with a whole new and improved executive team and coaching staff above him. Former GM Ray Farmer, who made the choice, is long gone, and has been replaced by Sashi Brown, who is working towards a more analytics-based decision making process. They also removed coach Mike Pettine, and replaced him with former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. The team is slowly improving, and with new coach Hue Jackson at the helm, and no true starting quarterback on the team, Manziel could return to a better roster and make some magic happen for Cleveland as they search for their first playoff birth in forever. The Browns fortified their offensive line this offseason with the signings of Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter, and they have some improved weapons in Isaiah Crowell and Kenny Britt. The team appears to be on the upswing, and with the draft capital they have in 2017, Cleveland could be making moves in the regular season if Manziel was at the helm.
The Texans are even more of a hometown team of Johnny Football, who grew up a few hours from Houston. With a stellar defense, a good running game, and some new receivers that will improve with time, it appears as though Manziel would be a great fit for the team. Head coach Bill O’Brien recently lost his starter in Brock Osweiler, who was horrid in his one season in Houston, and it seems doubtful that he has full confidence in fellow 2014 Draft mate Tom Savage. Manziel would be a great fit, and his running ability would add a new wrinkle to an offense that could be even more exciting. With a star receiver like DeAndre Hopkins, a burner in Will Fuller, a young up-and-comer in Braxton Miller, and one of the league’s most exciting players in Manziel, the Texans would be back in the playoff hunt in 2017.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger, and the Saints will need to look for a replacement in the near future. The 38 year old is still playing at a level as high as he ever has been at, and the “air-raid”-esque play style is still on full display. The Saints have no hope with Garrett Grayson being a future starter, and Luke McCown is nothing special. With an infusion of talent, the offense could keep up its high level of play and bring some exciting new opportunities with it. Although they recently traded Brandin Cooks, they still have a second year #1 wide receiver in Michael Thomas, and Willie Snead has been a great secondary option in recent years. With some additions to the offensive line and the continued slightly-above-average performance of Mark Ingram, Manziel could be an addition to the team that allows the team to stay in contention. The coaching staff has been in place for some time, and will likely be around for a while, which is ideal for a quarterback who could use a stable organization that can put its confidence behind him.
The Cardinals are in a positions similar to the Saints’, with a quarterback unlikely to be around much longer and no solid presence behind him. While Larry Fitzgerald is also likely retiring after the 2017 season, there are still exciting players on the offense like John Brown and David Johnson, who can be centerpieces for the team moving forward. Add in a high first round draft pick where they could possibly add a future #1 target in Mike Williams or Corey Davis, and the team is sitting pretty instead of using a first round pick to draft a future QB replacement. Bruce Arians has been a strong coach for the team, leading them to the NFC Championship in 2015 before suffering in a down year from Carson Palmer. The team must take stock at the quarterback position and look towards the future, and the future could be found in Manziel. He would be an exciting fit, with a deep game working with Brown and a reliable check-down and running presence in Johnson.
While it seems very unlikely, the Steelers also fall into the same category as the aforementioned two teams above. Ben Roethlisberger was weary of returning to the game in 2017, and the options behind him are slim. Landry Jones is not a full-time NFL starter, and Zach Mettenberger is ineffective. Imagining an offense with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Manziel is scary. It would easily be the most exciting in the league, and one of the fastest as well. The team already scores at will, and with a new element in the offense, it would be even better. Mike Tomlin is a great player’s coach who could keep Manziel in the game, and the offense run by Pittsburgh is a fun one. Now that Antonio Brown is locked up and Bell is scheduled to get a great payday, it would be best to invest in a low-priced option that could end up scoring big for the team, and allow them to compete for the throne in the AFC for years to come after Ben’s departure.