Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel didn�t write off his dream of ever playing in the NFL again, but he has postponed it. The 25-year-old signed a two-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League on Saturday.
Manziel was looking to make a comeback after his professional career was derailed by alcohol and drug addictions. Cleveland picked him 22nd�in the 2014 Draft, but after two seasons he was released.
Now supposedly clean and sober, Manziel wants to prove that he can be an elite signal caller. He was disappointed it won�t be in the NFL, but said he was excited to get back on the field.
�Getting back to playing ball, that’s what it comes down to,� he said in a video posted Saturday making the announcement. �That’s what I’ve missed doing. I’m somewhere, I don’t even know where, on the Canadian border. Trying to figure this whole thing out and figure out I guess how to play football in Canada. Big day for me. No longer unemployed, getting back to what I want to do. And I’m happy about it.�
NFL Teams Take a Pass
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was hoping to latch on to a squad in the US, and some organizations had shown interest. With a quarterback-rich draft this year, however, many decided to ultimately fill their needs that way.
Oddsmakers were surprised by Manziel not getting a contract. One internet betting site had his odds of playing in the NFL this season at 2/3. They listed the Jacksonville Jaguars as the top pick for his services at 9/1. But General Manager David Caldwell selected Nebraska�s Tanner Lee in the sixth round to join starter Blake Bortles and backup Cody Kessler.
The Denver Broncos were another team that had high odds of signing Manziel. They were listed at 10/1, but former Hall of Fame quarterback and current Denver GM John Elway took Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly with the last pick in the draft, commonly known as Mr. Irrelevant. He is the nephew of one of Elway�s playing rivals, Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills.
In an effort to impress NFL executives, Manziel auditioned at several exhibitions.�He went to throw at the University of San Diego�s Pro Day, as well as his alma mater�s Texas A&M Pro Day.
While he hadn�t been offered a contract with a team, there may have been the possibility of signing on as a midseason replacement for an injured player. Manziel, however, wasn�t attracted to that plan.
�I want a chance to get on the field and get into the locker room and get a chance to play ball again,� Manziel said at a press conference with his new team on Saturday. �This isn’t just a pit stop for me. I’m not coming here to get what I need to go back down to the NFL. I’ve signed into this for the long haul, for two years. I’m here to make the most of it.�