Johnny Football’s career is plummeting off the cliff as we speak. The disgraced quarterback is on a path that ends with him either behind bars, out of work or dead – there is no other way to dress the scenario up. With revelations emerging that the player refused to entered rehabilitation for his drug and alcohol addiction, the picture for Manziel became bleaker when news broke that he assaulted his girlfriend Colleen Crowley.
He exhausted all the patience and goodwill the Cleveland Browns could carry until they pulled the plug. Even for an ailing franchise that desperately needs all the talent on the books they can get, the time for action came and a line had to be drawn in the sand. It is one thing to be the national punch line in the NFL, it’s another to have the brand tarnished and embarrassed by the off-field exploits of your supposed “star player” and quarterback.
The media has analyzed and picked apart his fall from grace. The common consensus on Manziel’s immediate future has nothing to do with football, even if he is fortunate enough to avoid a jail cell. 2016 is too soon for the 23-year old to be playing football, particularly at NFL level. Without the urgent need to address his alcohol and behavioral issues, coming back into an environment of pressure will only exacerbate the problem further.
It is stating the obvious that any franchise would be best advised to steer well clear of any approach to sign the troubled footballer. Of his brief time in the spotlight he’s managed to anger a whole host of people in the industry with abhorrent conduct that verges on the moronic to the downright scandalous. But this is the NFL we’re talking about – giving second, third and fourth chances to these individuals is part of the business model.
If, by a miracle, Manziel straightened his attitude and actually acted like a professional then his talent would open doors to a return to the game. This would not necessarily mean the NFL directly, although the alternatives are quite limited on an international scale. Other struggling franchises will see the talent to mold into something special; others already have a strong culture and can use a back up.
However much he’s hated in the sport, and all for good reason, it is unlikely we’ve seen the last of Manziel on a football field. Here are 15 possible future destinations for the quarterback.
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15 New England Patriots
Wait – hear us out. Remember what we talked about regarding clubs with a strong culture that puts team first ahead of the individual? Well few do it better than the “Do Your Job” clan in New England under the guise of Bill Belichick. Manziel could do far worse than learn under his tutelage as well as taking cues from 4-time champion Tom Brady. The Pats would accept nothing but 100% effort all the time and he wouldn’t dare step out of turn, otherwise he’d have the whole organization plus Gronk to answer to. You would get extremely long odds at it ever happening, but if a franchise is to turn him from bad boy to choirboy, it’s the Patriots, pure and simple.
14 Chicago Bears
Much like the Cleveland Browns, the poor old Bears have been crying out for someone to take the franchise to the next level for decades. Since the classic 1985 team, all that has followed is disappointment. There is every chance going into an environment this desperate would spell trouble, but with Jay Cutler still at quarterback it is difficult to see what they would be losing taking a gamble on someone like Manziel. Finishing bottom of the NFC North on 6-10 this season means they can only go one way from here.
13 Philadelphia Eagles
Incoming Eagles head coach Doug Peterson has history working as a quarterback coach with the franchise, so he knows something about the pressures that comes with the key position. Under Chip Kelly they were within touching distance of the playoffs until they choked against the Redskins. Peterson has potential to work with in Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez, but is it really good enough to make them an elite team in 3-4 years time? Manziel is the roughest diamond out there but he’s still a diamond if given the right conditions. Maybe the City of Brotherly Love is just the tonic he needs?
12 Houston Texans
Every other quarterback in the greater Houston region was given a run in 2015, so why can’t Johnny hop on the wheel and take a spin? The endless wheelhouse of Brandon Weeden, TJ Yates and Brian Hoyer, who had one of the worst playoff games imaginable, means the Texans slot is wide open for someone to grab it by the horns (pun intended) and run with it. His heart might be with the Cowboys but Houston is close enough in Texas. The team has a solid defensive unit and good receivers, all it needs is someone to throw and snap passes.
11 Denver Broncos
Fresh off a stunning Super Bowl victory over the highly fancied Carolina Panthers, Broncos Nation are in seventh heaven right now. The last thing they will be thinking about is season 2016 and what that will bring, but the single narrative that will be driving discussion is the future of Peyton Manning. The 39-year old veteran refused to be drawn on a decision after the game, but all signs point to an impending retirement. This leaves Brock Osweiler in prime position for the number one slot, yet every franchise understands that competition drives performance. It’s stunning to think that Manziel is 16 years Peyton’s junior, so there is time for maturity and growth.
10 Tennessee Titans
Whatever solution the Tennessee Titans have been trying to find at quarterback to date simply isn’t working. Marcus Mariota, Zach Mettenberger, Alex Tanney, Jordan Palmer – all inept at producing results at the NFL level and desperate times call for desperate measures. Johnny Manziel is desperation at its peak, but for a franchise that finished dead last of the worst conference in the game – the AFC South – with a record of 3-13 in the 2015/16 season, the Titans need a circuit breaker to change the course of their downward trajectory.
9 Jacksonville Jaguars
The relative quiet surrounds of Jacksonville would allow Manziel to work diligently on his game away from the spotlight. Whereas moves to big cities would likely hinder his maturity off the field as well as on it, Johnny could go about his business in Jacksonville without the pressure of expectation. Blake Bortles could do with the competition and with the franchise under a cloud about it’s future, taking a chance on the QB might be the shot in the dark that pays dividends.
8 Saskatchewan Roughriders
If Jacksonville is flying under the radar, then heading away to the Canadian Football League is getting off the grid completely. Heading to a different country to play the sport would humble Manziel, but it wouldn’t put a line through his career. Far from it actually, as history has shown that working hard and putting in quality performances can be the road to redemption. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have as good a record in recent seasons as any, seeing Ben Heenan and Brian Peters qualifying on NFL rosters in 2015.
7 San Diego Chargers
Who are the Chargers? What do they stand for? And, most importantly, does anyone really care? The ailing franchise has been used as a case study in making strange decisions and sitting back to see what comes out if it. In Philip Rivers they have a good quarterback, indeed a very good quarterback on his day. But the lack of competition can make him lazy and complacent, so if anything were going to shake a club up it would be bringing Manziel into the fold. After a 4-12 season they couldn’t complain if it happened.
6 New York Jets
The Jets by all admissions probably punched a bit above their weight this campaign, going from a middle-of-the-road outfit to one knocking down the door of playoff football. That knocking didn’t unhinge the door itself, falling at the last hurdle against the Buffalo Bills in the last game of the regular season. Nonetheless, veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick blew hot and cold which doesn’t alleviate the fears of Jets fans about their future. Any quarterback would love to work with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Chris Ivory. Could the Big Apple be a case of right time, right place?
5 Calgary Stampeders
The idea of being a big fish in a small pond could be as appealing as it would be therapeutic for Manziel. Living in the beautiful backdrop of Calgary and playing for a team that has produced the likes of Tyler Varga to the Colts 53-man roster, Shawn Lemon trialing with the Steelers and 49ers, and Brett Jones to the New York Giants as an injury replacement means there is precedent to coming in through the side door of the Canadian Football League. It might be too relaxed a setting to motivate him to come back, but that would be on him.
4 Los Angeles Rams
LAPD officers will be up in the middle of the night with cold sweats thinking of the possibility of Johnny Manziel roaming the backstreets at night, but could two wrongs make a right? The complete upheaval of the Rams squad from St Louis to Los Angeles means that the organization has the time to take stock and look at where they are and where they want to go. With Nick Foles at QB that could mean anything, but the introduction of Manziel might benefit all parties concerned if he behaves properly.
3 San Francisco 49ers
What does Chip Kelly want from his quarterback? What type of offense does he want to build? What we know so far is that he likes to have all options on the table, having a QB that runs and plays what he sees in front of him. Doubt over Colin Kaepernick won’t go away as the underperforming 49er angles for a transition to the Jets. After what the Bay Area franchise put up with this season, then anything is an improvement. And at the end of the day – Blaine Gabbert can only take you so far.
2 Toronto Argonauts
Arguably the biggest of the Canadian Football League franchises, the motivation to win trophies and improve would remain as he goes about rebuilding his football career. The Argonauts saw John Chiles go to the Chicago Bears and Jalil Carter to the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 alone. Superstars they are not, but until the guy learns a bit of self-discipline to readjust his attitude, then anything above the CFL is arrogance personified.
1 Dallas Cowboys
It is the move his heart desires. Given Manziel’s attitude and conduct, giving him what he wants seems akin to gifting a spoiled brat the toy he wants after crying and chucking a tantrum in the middle of the store. Tony Romo’s injury concerns won’t go away and with the problems brought about by Dez Bryant and Greg Hardy, the Cowboys organization are not immune to a dose of controversy. If anyone looks stupid enough to gamble on Johnny it could be Dallas. If it happens they cannot cry foul if and when it turns sour. Buyer be warned!
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