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Former Browns QB Johnny Manziel Signs with AAF

Former Browns first-rounder looks to rebound career

CFL: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Montreal Alouettes
Johnny Manziel with Montreal Alouettes
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

When Johnny Manziel was drafted by the Browns in the first-round of the 2014 NFL draft, he was supposed to be Cleveland’s quarterback for the next 10 years. Instead, he lasted only two seasons before being released.

Alex Flanagan of NFL Network has announced that the Alliance of American Football (AAF) has signed former Heisman Trophy winner Manziel to a standard three-year $250,000 player contract. Flanagan described Manziel went through the process of the league’s waiver wire which meant the worst team in the AAF, the Memphis Express, had first shot at Johnny Football and made a claim. Memphis is coached by NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary.

Alex Flanagan - NFL Network

“This is perfect because this is a league we have talked about all season long about being a place to really come in humbly and getting a second chance. This is a kid who’s electrifying with his feet.”

Memphis has already lost QB Zach Mettenberger to an ankle injury and had benched the season starter Christian Hackenberg when he struggled early on in the season. Also on the roster is backup Brandon Silvers, who replaced Mettenberger in Saturday’s loss.

Memphis plays in San Antonio in Manziel’s home state of Texas on April 6. He played high school at Tivy High School in nearby Kerrville, Texas and was voted twice as San Antonio Express-News Offensive Player-of-the-Year.

Manziel threw for 1,675 yards with seven TDs, seven INTs and a 57% completion ratio while with the Browns. His best game was against the Steelers in 2015 when he was 33 of 45 attempts with 372 yards and a single TD in a 30-9 loss.

Manziel did set a Browns record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game with 108 yards against the Chiefs in Cleveland’s second-to-last game in 2015.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

He then signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL but did not play with a contract dispute. Manziel then participated in the Spring League, a developmental league which did not pay its participants. In May of 2018, he signed a two-year contract with Hamilton. After the first six weeks without taking a snap, the Ti-Cats traded him to the Montreal Alouettes. They started Manziel right away in which he tossed four INTs in his first game. For the 2018 season, he tossed 1,290 yards on 165 attempts with 106 completions, five TDs, seven INTs, an 80.6 passer rating, and ran 29 times for 215 yards.

Prior to the 2019 CFL season, the Alouettes released Manziel via orders from the league in which they assert that he had “contravened” his CFL contract. The league also stipulated that he could not sign with any other CFL club. It was determined that Manziel’s contract required that he see a doctor, submit to weekly lithium tests and also see a therapist for bipolar disorder on a weekly basis. Apparently, Manziel missed a large number of those required meetings and was subsequently tossed from the league. It was divulged that he had missed required sessions while with Hamilton also.

After his release, there were discussions that perhaps he would become a key signee with the upstart XFL set to debut next spring.

Having these opportunities as a quarterback to play professional football has a limited window. One can only speculate that Manziel is slowly running out of leagues to play in.