2017 NFL Predictions: 5 NFL Teams That Could Take a Chance on Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel isn’t heading back to the NFL just yet, but legal roadblocks that may be preventing his return are slowly disappearing.
Per reports, the man known as Johnny Football is nearing an end to his court case involving a domestic dispute in early 2015. Manziel’s lawyers are said to have reached a “tentative” agreement on an appeal that would drop the case and allow Manziel to focus on piecing his life back together.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 17, 2016
The former Texas A&M star has been on a downward spiral ever since he left College Station, as the Cleveland Browns spent a first round draft pick on him during the 2014 NFL Draft. Manziel’s career never really took off from there, as he saw just two starts during a forgettable rookie season before flashing some of his talent during an up and down second season.
Manziel’s days with the Browns were filled with lies and questionable decision-making off the field, and not enough visible progress on it.
While the questions remain about the 23-year old Manziel’s decisions away from the field and his dedication to playing again, there still remains the possibility he could turn things around.
Manziel still has that untapped talent that everyone got to see spurts of in 2015 and if he can prove he can get his life together and wants to be a successful starting quarterback, there is reason to believe there will be interested teams.
The big question, of course, is which ones would take that PR nightmare on? Here are five realistic options for Manziel if he can clean up his act and try to return to the NFL in 2017:
New York Jets
Not many teams are worse off than the Jets. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a failed re-signing, Geno Smith is likely a goner and neither Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg look like the future under center.
The sad part is the Jets have the offensive and defensive pieces to get serious about winning right now. Whether they chase that or go for a rebuild, however, they need help at quarterback. I’m not saying Manziel is the savior, but he can’t be worse than what they have.
Unless the Jets aim high for someone like Tony Romo, Jay Cutler or Kirk Cousins (and they very well might), Johnny Football should be on their radar.
The Broncos could be an interesting fit, seeing as Trevor Siemian isn’t very good and we still don’t know what Denver has in 2016 rookie, Paxton Lynch.
Unless John Elway goes out and hunts down Tony Romo, it certainly seems that these will be their top two quarterbacks again in 2017. If they don’t develope quickly enough, that could be a very bad thing.
The need could be there, but Manziel also fits Gary Kubiak’s system. He has the athleticism to crush roll out plays and he has shown glimpses of being a true gamer. Strong ties to Broncos stud pass rusher Von Miller can’t hurt, either.
Kirk Cousins is probably staying in Washington, as he was very solid in 2015 and is playing well again in 2016. Should he continue playing well and the Redskins make the playoffs for the second straight season, it’d be silly for he and the Redskins to part ways.
He could regress and end up signing elsewhere next season, however. If that were to happen, Coly McCoy would suddenly be Washington’s starter and that wouldn’t be great.
Daniel Snyder would likely make a bigger move (like luring Tony Romo to D.C.) but if the options are limited, a focused and dedicated Manziel wouldn’t be a terrible consolation prize.
San Francisco 49ers
From a talent and scheme perspective, the Niners might be the best spot for Johnny Manziel. The current quarterback situation in the Bay Area is regrettable, with both Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick not really looking fit for the job.
Chip Kelly undoubtedly needs to find a new passer for 2017, and why not look to a kid he once tried recruiting to Oregon?
Kelly did pass on Manziel when he was coach of the Eagles, but perhaps he’d be more interested in his new situation. Manziel has the talent and ability to run Kelly’s offense and he might be an upgrade over what the Niners currently have.
Even if he’s not, it’s unlikely the 49ers can improve via free agency at the position and the 2017 NFL Draft class is said to be a terrible one for quarterbacks.
Jay Cutler isn’t long for Chicago and John Fox is going to need to find a quarterback that is. Matt Barkley seeing anymore field time would be a joke, too, and with few options to pick from, the Bears would be foolish to not even consider Manziel – should he be on the right path.
Besides, what would be better than a quarterback room containing Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel again?
Johnny Manziel Prediction
There are obviously other possibilities for Manziel, other than our favorite five destinations. He could go somewhere strictly as a backup with no real chance to start, or other teams with somewhat shaky quarterback situations like the Dolphins, Bills and others could crack the door open.
Ahead of anything else is Manziel getting his life in order. He already served a four-game ban earlier this year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and rumor has it that he faces an additional six-game suspension for his role in his domestic violence case:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 17, 2016
It’s understandable to think that Manziel is nuclear to NFL teams right now. However, there is nothing better than a comeback story and as polarizing as Manziel is and could continue to be, there is no denying his talent on the field.
If Manziel had zero character concerns and he wasn’t caught up with partying and court cases, teams would flock to at least give him a chance.
Because of that, provided Manziel wakes up and dedicates himself to being a better person and player, he can have an NFL future.
Odds are teams wouldn’t take a chance on him just to come in and be a backup, however. He’ll be an instant media sensation and media distraction, so any team taking a chance on him will have to like him enough to let him come in and show he can compete for a starting gig.
Most of our five Johnny Manziel landing spots could allow for that. The one that makes the most sense, of course, is San Francisco.
It’s a dangerous spot for Manziel with his love for partying and the bright lights, but he’s not going to Dallas and teams closer to contending like the Jets and Broncos will almost surely chase Tony Romo or Jay Cutler first.
The Niners have to want to move on from both Kaepernick and Gabbert, however, and Manziel actually fits their system well on paper. Everything needs to be just right and fall into place, but don’t be shocked if once 2017 rolls around, we start hearing Johnny Manziel rumors that involve the 49ers.
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