When it was announced the New England Patriots would host former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for a pre-draft workout, everyone’s reaction was the same: A weird look and a scratch of the head. No one could figure out why in the world the Patriots would consider trading up to one of the top 10 picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, because that’s what it would take to land Manziel. However, this visit isn’t about the 2014 season; it’s about several years down the road and the Patriots’ long-term future.
The Patriots are set at quarterback right now. They’ve got Tom Brady still locked up for three more years and Ryan Mallett is expected to be an elite NFL signal-caller when he eventually takes over for the 36-year-old Brady. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick is always planing for the future, which is why New England made it to the AFC Championship Game this past season despite losing both Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker. That futuristic thought process is the motivation behind this Manziel visit.
The Patriots have no intention whatsoever of trading up to draft Manziel this year; instead, they’re bringing him in to find out if he’ll be a good trade target or free agent candidate down the road. New England is really good at bringing in players who seem to be washed up and then revitalizing their careers. Belichick is already wisely thinking Manziel wil flame out with his first NFL team and then become available for trade by his third season or even a free agent after his rookie contract expires.
Considering his current immaturity and lack of an NFL skill set, it’s easy to predict that Manziel won’t be successful right off the bat, especially if he ends up with a bad team like the Cleveland Browns or Jacksonville Jaguars as a top-five pick, which is very likely. So knowing that Brady is in the twilight of his career, Belichick is planning for his chance to revive Manziel’s career when the young passer is still in his prime and burned out from the media circus that will undoubtedly follow him through the first few years of his career.
Think of it this way: Manziel now a future option for the Patriots as Mallett’s backup or potential replacement. New England is a title contender every year because it always plans for the future and that’s exactly why Manziel’s visit was scheduled in the first place.