While some are still skeptical of whether or not Johnny Manziel is still serious about getting another chance in the NFL, one team is taking his aspirations seriously. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League signed the 25-year-old to a two-year deal reportedly worth six figures and loaded with incentives.
That’s well above the CFL’s rookie rate. Either way, the Tiger-Cats are taking Manziel seriously and are willing to give him the reps in order to work his way back to the NFL. Here are five reasons why playing north of the border could work in the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner’s favor.
So far Manziel has stayed out of trouble
While there is no doubting that the former Texas A&M standout is a solid athlete, his reputation for clubbing, partying, drinking, along with alleged drug use, a failed rehab stint, and a domestic violence charge forced the Cleveland Browns to release him at the end of the 2015 season with his then-agent parting ways with him not too long afterwards. He attributed his problems to bipolar disorder and has been receiving treatment. Since then his focus has been all on football.
He’s already put in some on-field work
To prove just how serious he was about a comeback, Manziel took part in the experimental Spring League in April and suited up for Team South. In two games in the Spring League, Manziel completed 19 of 31 passes for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception (he also ran for two scores). A few weeks prior to his TSL debut Manziel threw passes at Texas A&M’s pro day in front of both NFL and CFL scouts. Thus far he has shown that he’s ready to put the work in.
He’ll still get solid media exposure in Canada
The CFL airs on national television in both Canada and the U.S. Plus with Manziel being a high-profile player (whether it’d be for good or bad reasons), there is sure to be a contingent of American media to follow him to Ontario. Add in the Internet and social media and there will always be a way to find how Manziel performs in a Tiger-Cats uniform.
The CFL is a quarterback-friendly league
It shouldn’t take “Johnny Football” too long to adjust as the CFL runs many versions of the spread offense, similar to what Manziel ran at Texas A&M. Expect him to take advantage of the multiple-receiver formations, the rule that allows receivers to motion towards the line of scrimmage pre-snap, and the quarterback-friendly rules. The major adjustments for Manziel will be the bigger field (150 yards), the extra players (12-on-12), and a larger ball.
Other former NFL players have found success in the CFL
If Manziel can find success in the CFL in order to get another NFL opportunity he wouldn’t be the first player to do so. He’ll join a list that includes fellow quarterbacks in Jeff Garcia (played in the NFL from 1999-2011 after starting in the CFL), and Doug Flutie (won three CFL Grey Cups in the mid-90s before becoming an NFL staple from 1998-2005). It’s not impossible but again Manziel needs to stay disciplined and put the work in.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He’s also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He’s a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Screengrab courtesy of CFL.ca)