Should the Broncos take a chance on Johnny Manziel?

Dec 27, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) leaves the field after the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) leaves the field after the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

Johnny Manziel wants to play football again.  The Denver Broncos quarterback situation is muddy in the short-term.  Any chance there’s a match to be made?

Peyton Manning’s retirement has obviously left the Broncos with a massive hole to fill.

The future of the franchise is (hopefully) rookie Paxton Lynch, plucked out of Memphis in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.  Broncos fans have high hopes for Lynch, but early indications are that he’ll take some time to develop.

Veterans on the roster at QB are Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian, but it’s hard to find anyone who is particularly excited about either of those names in the long-term.

It appears either Sanchez or Siemian will be the starter this year.

Siemian knows the playbook, but his only experience “playing” in the NFL is a single kneel-down.

Meanwhile, Sanchez showed some promise in his early days with the Jets, but has struggled to stay healthy over the past few years.

In Philadelphia last season, he started 2 games — both losses — and threw for 616 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.  The Eagles dumped Sanchez in the spring, taking a conditional seventh-round pick in trade.

Johnny Football Needs a Paycheck

It was eight months ago this week that Johnny Manziel was named the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.  Shortly thereafter the team demoted him to third on the depth chart because of his partying ways.

During his time in Cleveland, Manziel didn’t prove that he was a horrible pro-quarterback.  Only that he had a horrible relationship with the Browns organization and a general lack of respect for authority.  That’s a fixable situation.

The Browns are terrible on the field and their front-office is just as bad.  Is it really any surprise that Manziel didn’t flourish there?  This is a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1994 and the city itself didn’t seem to suit Manziel’s personality in any way.

According to a report yesterday from Mike Florio at Pro-Football Talk, the Browns managed to quietly wipe out $2.2 million that they were expected to owe the former Heisman trophy winner over the next 2 years.

They used Manziel’s failure to report to team facilities — he was partying in Las Vegas — to claw back the cash before cutting ties with the troubled Texas A&M star earlier this year.

The fact that Manziel is no longer drawing a paycheck might mean that his claims of wanting to return to the NFL this season aren’t total fantasy.  His financial position might mean he has been humbled enough for someone to take him on as a reclamation project.

Of course, any team who considered signing Manziel would probably first require him doing a quick stint in some type of drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

Why the Broncos?  

Well, there are a couple of reasons that might make this a workable fit.

First off, head coach Gary Kubiak was a quarterback at Texas A&M and began his coaching career there. The same goes for defensive star Von Miller, who not only played at A&M but also became close personal friends with Manziel.

“I want to be that consistent friend,” Miller said last month. “I see the reports, but when I see him, I feel like he’s at peace. I’ll be the last guy who ever stops being friends with Johnny.”

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So there’s a framework in place that Manziel might have some respect for.  If he’s really been humbled by his current situation, that might be enough to keep him in line.

If Manziel came to Denver it would need to be on a strict “one-strike and you’re out” contract that paid him the absolute minimum amount of money upfront.  No nonsense, or else you’re gone!

The Broncos showed at least a tiny bit of interest back in April, when it was reported that Kubiak had reached out to Manziel after he parted ways with Cleveland.

If Mark Sanchez melts down in October, do you write off the entire season?  Or throw a rookie into the fire who maybe isn’t ready?  Having Manziel around, even if he was on the practice roster, would give the team some flexibility.

Frankly, it would just be interesting to see how well “Johnny Football” can still play at this point.

How would he perform in a situation where he’s not at war with the team he’s playing for, but instead grateful for being given an opportunity at redemption?

For those who love a good comeback story, or who miss the media circus of Tebow-mania, Manziel would provide a spark of that excitement.

But it’s almost certainly not going to happen.

Related Story: Kubiak Trampled Expectations

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