After the Cleveland Browns hired Hue Jackson to be their next head coach, it felt like it was only a matter of time before the team decided to cut ties with their former first-round pick, quarterback Johnny Manziel. Now after Manziel's latest run-in with the law, team Executive Vice President Sashi Brown might have given everyone a clue into how much longer Manziel will be on the team’s roster.
“We’ve been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field," Brown said in a statement released earlier Tuesday. "Johnny’s continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization. His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time.”
In other words, the Browns are likely to release Manziel once the league year begins on March 9. Cleveland can’t release Manziel the day after the Super Bowl because the team does not have the $4.6 million in cap space to do so. The salary cap will increase at the beginning of the new league year on March 9 and Manziel will likely be released soon after.
There’s a lot of speculation on where the former Heisman Trophy winner could land once he is released. Here are five possible landing spots:
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are clearly in need of a quarterback and they could decide to take a look at Manziel. Head coach Jeff Fisher reportedly considered taking Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft with its second first-round pick (No. 13 overall) before deciding to select defensive tackle Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh instead.
The Rams finished dead last in the NFL in passing offense in 2015. The team used three different quarterbacks this past season with Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion combining for just 11 touchdown passes against just as many interceptions.
The Rams could decide to use a first- or second-round pick on a quarterback, but maybe the team feels like bringing on Manziel as a low-risk, high-reward option would be better. Either way, the team will need to upgrade its quarterback position to prevent opposing defenses from stacking seven or eight men in the box to stop running back Todd Gurley.
Reportedly, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was interested in taking Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft but he was talked out of it. Would anyone be surprised if Jones decided to sign Manziel when he becomes available?
Brining Manziel in would make sense because he would immediately become the team’s backup quarterback to Tony Romo. That would give Manziel time to develop and a chance to learn how to become a professional under Romo’s tutelage.
Also, with Romo having a number of injuries in his mid-30s, Manziel could start a couple of games a season if the Cowboys needed him to. He would certainly be an upgrade from Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore, who both played under center for the Cowboys last season as Romo broke his collarbone on two different occasions.
San Francisco 49ers
While the 49ers didn’t seem like a fit for Manziel during the 2015 season, he certainly does now with their newest head coach Chip Kelly.
While the 49ers owe Colin Kaepernick $9.9 million base salary in 2016, the team could decide to release him and take the $7.3 million cap hit in dead money while clearing another $7.37 million from the books.
Even if the 49ers kept Kaepernick, the team could decide to bring in another quarterback other than Blaine Gabbert to provide some competition.
With Manziel’s playing style and athleticism, he appears to be a good fit for Kelly’s offensive system.
Despite not having stability at the quarterback position, the Texans still found a way to get into the postseason by winning the AFC South. While Houston could opt to take a quarterback in the upcoming draft, another possibility could be to take a chance on Manziel.
Brian Hoyer will still be under contract in 2016, but backups Brandon Weeden and T.J. Yates are both set to become free agents. Manziel did play up the road in College Station when he was at Texas A&M, so signing him could prove beneficial off the field too.
With Sam Bradford set to hit free agency, new head coach Doug Pederson could be looking for a new quarterback to lead the team’s future. The team could draft one and bring in a veteran to compete with Mark Sanchez until the young quarterback is ready, so why not Manziel?
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.