In August, it appeared that former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was on the brink of restarting his football career north of the border in the Canadian Football League. The CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats extended a workout invite to the 2014 first-round NFL draft pick and though they did not choose to sign him, citing “too many red flags,” their interest in him has apparently not dwindled.
The Tiger-Cats have held onto Manziel’s rights but the CFL decided first to do a thorough investigation of Manziel’s past—including a 2016 domestic violence charge—before deciding whether or not he would be eligible to play in the league. And on Thursday, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s inquiry concluded with Manziel being ruled eligible for a contract, enabling him to continue his professional football career if he so chooses.
As per CFL rules, the Ticats now have 10 days to either extend an offer to Manziel or trade his rights to another team, as detailed by TSN’s Dave Naylor:
CFL confirms: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have 10 days to make an offer to Johnny Manziel in order to keep his rights or to trade his rights to another team. If Manziel does not receive an offer from the Tiger-Cats or isn't traded by January 7th, 2018, he will become a free-agent.— David William Naylor (@TSNDaveNaylor) December 28, 2017
The Ticats released a statement on Thursday thanking Ambrosie for his “due diligence” in the Manziel investigation, but had “no further comment” about their plans for Manziel moving forward. The Ontario team has had Manziel on their negotiating list since 2012 but that’s no guarantee that he will ultimately play in Canada for Hamilton or any other franchise in the upcoming year. According to CFL rules, any player signing a first contract with the league must commit to two seasons.
So if Manziel still has his sights set on a big NFL comeback—or even a marquee appearance in whatever WWE chairman Vince McMahon may have planned in the world of professional football—he may ultimately opt against signing a deal with Hamilton or any other CFL team that may show interest. But for someone who has not played a down of football since 2015, any opportunity to revive his career, should he be interested, is a good one.
Manziel has yet to comment on the CFL’s ruling. But he has apparently met conditions that were both “extensive and exacting” (as well as “confidential”) to earn his eligibility. Ticats head coach June Jones said in a league podcast that Manziel would “be the best player to ever play up here. He can throw it and he can run it like nobody ever has been able to do." Now, he officially has the chance, should he decide to take it.