As the Cleveland Browns spent most of yesterday watching their free agents skip town, fans of the team were still eagerly awaiting 4:01 p.m. At this time, the new NFL league year would officially begin, meaning Cleveland could send out a statement everyone has been expecting for weeks now.
“The Browns have released quarterback Johnny Manziel.”
Cleveland’s problem child has been doing nothing but getting into trouble for the past few months, and based on comments from the new regime, it sure sounded like the team couldn’t wait to kick him to the curb. As soon as league rules allowed it, people assumed the Browns would immediately wash their hands of Manziel.
Yet, to the surprise of many, Cleveland didn’t release him. Manziel is still technically a Brown, and many are wondering why.
One reason appears to be because the team is waiting to see if the NFL suspends Manziel for his recent domestic dispute. If this indeed takes place, Cleveland could recoup some guaranteed money owed to him.
However, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns also might be hanging on to Manziel under the belief they could trade him.
If this is indeed the case, and the Browns are getting calls from other teams expressing interest in the much-maligned quarterback, who am I to dissuade them? At the same time, if Cleveland truly is trying to trade Manziel, it’s facing an uphill battle.
Quite frankly, I’m stunned anyone would be conveying any sort of interest in trading for Manziel. All he’s done since Week 17 of last season is continue to destroy whatever appeal he had left. Despite potentially facing legal trouble, Manziel is still out partying, hitting up bars and strip clubs and not really showing any remorse while he’s at it. It certainly seems as though he just doesn’t fully grasp the damage he’s doing to his future.
Because of this, it’s tough to believe there’s even one team out there who could see all these negative headlines and still feel compelled to give away an asset in exchange for Manziel’s services. Instead, it’s a bit easier to label this as someone within the Browns organization claiming the team is receiving interest in the QB to see if they can drum up an offer or two. At the same time, if all signs point to Cleveland just dropping Manziel, why would anyone try to trade for him?
One idea, floated by Kabot, is including Manziel in the apparently increasing talks with the San Francisco 49ers regarding Colin Kaepernick.
Though earlier reports indicated Cleveland wasn’t interested in San Fran’s QB, rumors are now surfacing claiming the two teams are talking trade. Knowing Kaepernick is coming off a rough year, and that trading for him means taking on his $11.9 million salary, you could see how the Browns might be tempted to throw Manziel into the deal as a kicker. Perhaps new 49ers coach Chip Kelly would feel better about trading Kaepernick if he was getting a quarterback in return.
At the same time, when said quarterback comes with the kind of baggage Manziel brings, and also may or may not be suspended by the NFL, it’s a completely different story.
At the end of the day, the Browns might be able to convince themselves they can trade Manziel, but convincing other teams sure sounds like an impossible task. You can never say never in these situations, but if I were a betting man, I would put my money on Cleveland eventually sticking with the original plan and cutting Manziel outright.