UPDATE 11:35 A.M.
The deed is done. Johnny Manziel is no longer a member of the Cleveland Browns, who apparently have failed in their attempts to trade the former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick.
The team-issued news release about the roster move contained little more than statistics.
Even considering the Browns’ woebegone history, Manziel’s two-year career with the team was a disaster.
The move had been expected since early February, when the team announced it would be parting ways with Manziel as soon as it became financially feasible for them to do so when the league’s new calendar began. He still will receive $2.17 million in guaranteed money from the Browns over the next two seasons unless a team picks him up off waivers and assumes responsibility for his contract. The chances of that happening are slim.
The Browns took Manziel with the 22nd pick of the 2014 NFL draft, giving up a third-round pick to move up in the order. After a rookie season in which he barely saw the field, Manziel entered a 10-week rehab program after and appeared to say all the right things as he entered his second year, but as it progressed it became clear Manziel wasn’t about to change his ways. In November, the Browns demoted him to third string after video surfaced of him partying. Then Manziel missed a scheduled concussion check-in with team doctors before the team’s regular season finale, reportedly because he was gambling in Las Vegas. In January, he was dropped by his agent.
The final straw came on Jan. 30 when Manziel was involved in an incident with former girlfriend Colleen Crowley, who told police in Dallas that Manziel hit her so hard that it ruptured her left eardrum. That incident is currently pending before a grand jury, which will determine whether to charge Manziel with misdemeanor assault.
So ends yet another regrettable chapter in Browns history.
Wednesday came and went, and Johnny Manziel was still a member of the Cleveland Browns despite the team’s pledge to part with its wayward quarterback at the start of the league’s new year. What, exactly, is going on with that?
According to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns are keeping Manziel around with hopes of trading him. In her eyes, the San Francisco 49ers would be a perfect partner, considering that team also has a quarterback who won’t be around much longer — Colin Kaepernick — and a coach in Chip Kelly who has expressed admiration for Manziel’s football abilities in the past (he tried hard to recruit him to Oregon way back when). Plus, new Browns Coach Hue Jackson was a fan of Kaepernick’s when he came out of college. Cabot proposes that the Browns trade Manziel and their third-round draft pick this year to the 49ers for Kaepernick (San Francisco reportedly wants a second-round pick, but Cabot sees Manziel as a work-around to that).
Kaepernick asked the 49ers to trade him last month, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday that no deal is imminent. ESPN’s Pat McManamon adds the Browns have contacted the 49ers about a trade involving Kaepernick, but agrees that nothing concrete is pending. San Francisco General Manager Trent Baalke said last month at the combine that Kaepernick will be on the team’s roster April 1, when his $11.9 million base salary for 2016 becomes guaranteed.
Yahoo’s Charles Robinson doesn’t seem to think Manziel will end up in San Francisco, mainly because he thinks former Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will end up in San Francisco.
Frankly, it would be surprising to see any team take a chance on Manziel until a grand jury in Texas decides whether to charge him with misdemeanor assault over a Jan. 30 incident involving his former girlfriend. The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that Dallas police filed the paperwork to send the case to the grand jury last week, but that prosecutors must review the referral before presenting their case.
Longtime Cleveland sports journalist Tony Grossi, meanwhile, thinks the Browns will finally be done with Manziel on Friday. Cabot concurs, if the team can’t pull off a trade.
Manziel has kept up appearances in the interim, with TMZ spotting him at Hollywood nightclubs three days in a row now.