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Johnny Manziel released by Montreal, banned from Canadian Football League

Former Montreal Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel in October. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press/Associated Press)

The Canadian Football League ended its relationship with Johnny Manziel on Wednesday, with the league saying the quarterback “contravened the agreement which made him eligible to play in the league.”

Manziel, 26, was released by the Montreal Alouettes and the CFL told its teams it would not approve another contract for the embattled quarterback.

“Mr. Manziel violated a condition of his agreement with the league,” Montreal General Manager Kavis Reed said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference. “He was given opportunities to rectify the situation with the league and chose not to . . . The league and our team put a lot of infrastructure in place for Mr. Manziel to be successful.”

Before Manziel signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in May, he met with CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, who cleared the quarterback to sign with the league in late 2017. Manziel would have to “meet a number of conditions in order to remain eligible,” Ambrosie said in a statement then. “These conditions, while extensive and exacting, remain confidential.”

Reed on Wednesday declined to elaborate on what conditions of that agreement Manziel had violated.

The CFL’s move again leaves Manziel with an uncertain football future. The Cleveland Browns selected the former Heisman Trophy winner with the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft. He started eight games in two years, but his play was inconsistent and he was often in trouble with the team for his off-field exploits. The Browns released him shortly after the end of the 2015 season.

Manziel tweeted Wednesday that his time in Canada “reestablished my love for the game of football and the work that goes into it” and that he is looking forward “to exploring new options within the United States.”

Manziel spent much of 2017 negotiating with the Tiger-Cats, who held his rights. Manziel eventually signed on to play for the developmental Spring League in 2018 and then signed a two-year deal with Hamilton in May.

“I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I’m eager for what the future holds,” he said at the time.

He never started a game for Hamilton, and he was traded to the Alouettes in a massive July deal that included a pair of first-round draft picks. His tenure in Montreal was brief and underwhelming. In his first game for Montreal, he threw four interceptions on 11-of-20 passing for 104 yards. He finished the season completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,290 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions, while making eight starts.

Reed said the Alouettes would not have released Manziel if not for the league’s edict.

“Mr. Manziel’s performance on the field indicated he had a very strong upside,” Reed said. “ . . . When we made the trade for Mr. Manziel we knew the risks that went with it.”

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