The Final Nail May Have Just Been Driven Into Kaepernick's Career In The Form Of Johnny Manziel
By: Bryan Chai
Johnny Manziel, who has been out of football since 2015, has garnered the attention of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, per NFL Network's Ian Rapaport.
Sources: #Saints coach Sean Payton & Johnny Manziel were spotted together Super Bowl week, at breakfast. They discussed a return to football— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2017
FA QB Johnny Manziel has kept a low-profile as he trains for a return. #Saints coach Sean Payton appears to have taken an interest in him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2017
The #Saints still need a backup QB. Payton could make the most of Manziel’s talent. Drew Brees would be a perfect mentor. A lot makes sense.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2017
Manziel was in and out of the starting lineup for the 2015 Cleveland Browns, who went 3-13 that year.
A decorated college quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M, Manziel generated enough interest to be drafted in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2014 NFL draft. Scouts were decidedly split on him, with some thinking his scrambling and playmaking could be a facsimile of Russell Wilson, while others felt he lacked the physical ability to emulate Wilson's game as well as his maturity and work ethic.
The early returns on Manziel weren't good. He threw two interceptions and no touchdowns in a 30-0 blowout loss to the rival Bengals in his very first NFL start. He finally won a game in his third start, throwing two touchdowns en route to a 28-14 win over the Titans. It wasn't until his fifth start that he showed flashes of his college self. The Browns lost to the Steelers 30-9, but Manziel hung 372 yards on Pittsburgh while completing a very efficient 73 percent of his passes. The final game he played in the NFL was against the Kansas City Chiefs, where he ran for more than 100 yards despite losing a close 17-13 game.
Ultimately, Manziel's football skills had very little to do with his downfall. It was his off-the-field demons that got the better of him. Questionable decisions, fights, tardiness, partying, partying even harder and getting kicked out of clubs are just some of the incidents that Manziel found himself in.
However, his two most serious issues may have been the most personal ones: substance abuse problems and domestic violence accusations.
In February 2015, Manziel checked himself into rehab to deal with his drinking and drug problems. Even his own father admitted that his son was a "druggie" and that a jail cell "would be the best place" for the former Heisman winner. His rampant partying, combined with his penchant for drugs and alcohol, made him a terrible candidate to be the face of a franchise, and Manziel soon found himself unemployed.
In April 2016, Manziel was indicted on a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly hitting and threatening his then-girlfriend, with both parties eventually reaching an agreement to dismiss the charge.
Fast forward to today, and Manziel has been relatively clean and trouble-free (of course, as far as the public knows). He is gunning for a second chance, and the Saints provide a phenomenal opportunity. He can become a better quarterback under the tutelage of Payton. He can learn to become a better professional and ambassador for the game from the classy Drew Brees. He might not get to play much right away (Brees has missed a mere eight games since becoming a starter in 2002!), but this is as golden of a chance as Manziel may ever get.
As much as this is good news for Manziel, this could be the death knell for Colin Kaepernick's career. The market for a starting quarterback has all but dried up. Every team in the league either has its presumptive starting quarterback already or has a stopgap solution with the intent to draft a rookie quarterback. But now the backup quarterback market is evaporating in front of our eyes. Conceivably, the Colts, Chiefs, Lions and Cardinals might be the only four teams that need a backup quarterback.
And supply isn't exactly dwindling alongside demand. Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Robert Griffin III are just a few of the quarterbacks still available on the increasingly competitive backup market. All also come with their own baggage, hence why they're still on the open market. Cutler is a headcase, Fitzpatrick can be very outspoken and RGIII still has a reputation for being a bit of a diva. So there's already a small pool of troubled backup quarterbacks for these teams to choose from, not even counting the possibility of drafting a rookie. And yes, it speaks just as poorly about the aforementioned quarterbacks that Johnny Manziel would be wined and dined for a gig ahead of them.
This is just terrible news for Kaepernick. Think about this for a minute: One of the final teams that truly needed a backup quarterback might be opting for someone who hasn't thrown a pass in over two years, has a litany of personal demons that could derail his career at any given moment, and has never made the playoffs. It appears the Saints would rather risk all of that than have anything to do with Kaepernick. That's how toxic the anthem-protesting former 49er has become. His value is less than that of a quarterback whom Kaepernick outclasses in terms of raw statistics. Comparing Manziel's body of work to Kaepernick's is downright laughable.
But this is no laughing matter for Kaepernick. His career is in legitimate jeopardy. There is neither a statistical nor an analytical reason to sign Johnny Manziel. The stats speak for themselves ( look them up, it won't take long to go through his entire career). He's small, lacks precision and zip on his throws, and has a laundry list of character concerns. And yet, according to how the market is playing out, Kaepernick's unpatriotic antics might exceed anything Manziel has done.
There is some logic here. Character flaws can be ironed out as a person matures and gets older (remember, Manziel is still only just 24). But when NFL teams think you have ideological flaws? Well, just ask Kaepernick how that's working out for him.New orleans Saints, Johny Manziel, Collin Kaepernick, Sean Peyton, Russell Wilson, Carreer Ended