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8 NFL Teams That Should Sign Reinstated Quarterback Johnny Manziel

By Paul Wilson in Sports
| October 6, 2016 12:00 am PDT
Johnny Manziel Browns Uniform On Football Field

The downward spiral of former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is a well-documented one, but as bad as it’s gotten, there is still hope for a turn around.

That hope could begin with Johnny Manziel’s four-game suspension for substance abuse drying up as week five approaches. There have yet to be any clear signs of NFL interest – or even Manziel being prepared to re-enter the league – but the talent remains for a kid who was once a first round draft pick and is still just 23 years old.

There has been a lot of chatter about Manziel’s future in football, as the Dallas Cowboys have already gone on record to say they won’t sign him, while Manziel has standing offers from the CFL and Arena Football League.

Manziel’s pledged to getting and staying sober in the past, and this past summer suggested that his NFL career “can’t” and “won’t” end the way it currently is set up to. That may not be his decision to make, but if Manziel can prove to pro teams that he’s cleaned up his act and is ready to commit to the game, things could change for him rather quickly.

It’s tough to say just when that could happen, but there are definitely a few spots where we could envision Johnny Manziel trying to turn his career (and life) around:

San Francisco 49ers

This one has to lead the way. Niners head coach Chip Kelly actually once recruited Johnny Football back at Oregon and Manziel’s athleticism and quick release could potentially make him perfect for the system Kelly runs.

Besides, Colin Kaepernick doesn’t seem long for the 49ers and Blaine Gabbert clearly isn’t the answer. San Francisco might just tank and draft a quarterback early in the 2017 NFL Draft, but if they can’t get one, adding Manziel could be worthwhile.

New York Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick is drowning in a sea of turnovers, no one wants to see Geno Smith get starts and the two young quarterbacks the Jets drafted in the past two years have looked awful.

Manziel in the Big Apple is a scary thought, but New York has excellent offensive talent. They just need a competent quarterback. Manziel still has a ways to go to prove he’d be the answer, but it’s not as if the Jets currently have one.

Miami Dolphins

This one is a bit of a reach after Ryan Tannehill recently signed a long-term deal, but he’s been awful and doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Perhaps next year they bring in some competition and see if Manziel can either push or beat out their would-be franchise passer.

Kansas City Chiefs

Alex Smith is concretely the Chiefs’ top quarterback, but he offers little ceiling and Andy Reid could start thinking about the future under center in Kansas City. Nick Foles isn’t the answer, either, so perhaps the Chiefs turn to the talented Manziel and hope he can mimic Smith’s strengths while also providing some upside.

Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousins has looked better over the last two weeks, but he’s been shaky overall on the season in a contract year. Should he fail to impress, he could be playing elsewhere in 2017 and the Redskins would again need to find a quarterback.

With Colt McCoy their only other realistic option, Washington would need to bring some new blood in. Owner Daniel Snyder loves a splash, so signing Manziel wouldn’t be all that shocking.

Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler isn’t long for Chicago and Brian Hoyer surely isn’t the answer. Besides, how hilarious would it be to see Manziel on the same team as Hoyer again?

The Bears have some talent on offense and could be getting better defensively. John Fox might not love the idea of adding Manziel, but he currently doesn’t have any better options.

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees still has his big games, but he’s only getting older and isn’t the difference-maker for the Saints he used to be. Sean Payton doesn’t have a long-term replacement plan in place yet, so perhaps a similarly small and improvisational Manziel could make sense.

With Brees still under contract for two more years, Payton could groom Manziel in the system and have a near-finished product by 2018.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona is trending downward, as Carson Palmer seems to have regressed sharply in 2016 and the Cards are just 1-3 through four games. That’s unacceptable for a team with legit Super Bowl aspirations.

Drew Stanton gets the first crack at this thing this week with Palmer (concussion) down, but he can’t possibly be the long-term solution. Manziel is a big question mark, but he actually could be the answer down the road if he gets his act together.

Johnny Manziel Prediction

Obviously we don’t know what kind of mental, emotional or physical state Johnny Manziel is in. He probably isn’t prepared yet to take the field in 2016 and per reports, he might not even want to.

That’s not the point, though. Whether to be signed to compete for the starting gig or just to be brought in as a guy to develop, Manziel is still an interesting talent that could easily develop under the right coaching staff.

Objective one is for Manziel to get his mind right, make good decisions, get into football shape and prove with action after action that he’s ready to fully commit to being the best player, teammate and person he can be.

Once that is established, it’s not at all crazy to imagine teams in need of quarterback help talking to him and seeing if he makes sense to bring in.

Manziel is also still a work in progress from a talent perspective, but it seems people tend to ignore the significant strides he made with the Browns. He still has the talent to be an effective NFL starter, but needs to commit to that goal and will absolutely need to fall into the right situation.

Starting right away for any team probably isn’t what is best for him, nor just getting any job he can find. He needs to go somewhere he can sit and learn, get better and actually be seen as a valued piece to the puzzle, should he pan out.

That probably makes the Saints, Chiefs, Cardinals, 49ers and Redskins ahead of everyone else as the best possible fits. For Manziel’s sake, landing with the Saints might be the best situation. He’d have one of the best quarterbacks tutoring him, one of the best offensive minds in Sean Payton coaching him and a cushy backup spot in New Orleans. There he also could showcase his speed and athleticism on the turf, while working to better his other attributes as a passer.

It’s still not overly likely we see Manziel on a football field anytime soon, or maybe ever. However, he was a brilliant college talent and we saw glimpses of the star he could be in his two years in Cleveland. We should hope he can turn things around, as that talent could develop into a bigger star than he is a bust.

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