Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Bullet dodged

And to think I was enthusiastically supporting the idea of my favorite NFL squad drafting this guy in 2014.

Johnny Manziel's time with the Cleveland Browns will come to an end in March, according to a league source.

The Browns released a statement from new director of football operations Sashi Brown on Tuesday that expressed disappointment in Manziel but stopped short of saying the quarterback's run in Cleveland is over.

"We've been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field. Johnny's continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization," Brown said. "His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time."

The reference to league rules points to the fact that the Browns do not have the salary cap space to release Manziel on Feb. 8, the day after the Super Bowl and the first day they can do so. The move will take place when the new NFL year starts March 9, according to the source. Releasing Manziel in February would count $4.6 million against the cap, and due to the cap's machinations, the Browns do not have that space -- and will not have it in February. The cap will increase in March, which will allow them to release Manziel then.

With the Vikes having the #8 overall pick in 2014, I figured it would come down to either Manziel or LB Anthony Barr. But then the Vikings swapped picks with the Browns, giving Cleveland the #8 spot in exchange for #9 overall as well as the Browns' 5th round pick. So when Cleveland took a cornerback with that selection, I still wasn't sold Manziel would be the guy even though he was there for the taking. The reason I felt that way was because it had been reported that new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer expressed serious concerns about the quarterback's off field issues. In the end it was apparent Zimmer wasn't bluffing as the Vikings took Barr at #9. I think we can safely say that was the absolute perfect move.

A career that started with immeasurable excitement at the Browns trading up to draft Manziel ended with fans and the team ready to move on. Manziel is likely to rank as one of the Browns' biggest draft disappointments.

Manziel had a rocky rookie season that ended with him missing the final walkthrough after he was out late the night before the team flew to Baltimore. Manziel checked into rehab and treatment for undisclosed reasons shortly after the season and spent 10 weeks at Caron Treatment Center outside Reading, Pennsylvania.

He returned promising to tamp down the hype and keep himself off social media and out of the news. He did so until mid-October, when police in Avon, Ohio, questioned him after his then-girlfriend said he had hit her while driving in a car.

That led to a spiral of appearances on social media that troubled the team -- and briefly cost him a starting job.

Manziel returned for three of the final four games when Josh McCown broke his collarbone, but the week before the finale showed up late to a Wednesday team meeting looking disheveled. The team got him out of the meeting room, then announced he was in the concussion protocol.

USA Today then reported Manziel was in Las Vegas the weekend of the Browns' finale. He missed a scheduled treatment for his concussion the morning of the finale.

More social media appearances in clubs followed, and last weekend police were called for an alleged assault in Fort Worth, Texas. Dallas and Fort Worth police are investigating, as is the league.

The only question remaining is if this is Manziel's "rock bottom." People with addictions often have to reach that low point before they bounce back. If Manziel has yet to bottom out, perhaps a season or two with the Ottawa Redblacks would do it.


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