After a two-year absence, Johnny Manziel is back on a professional football roster. No, it's not the NFL -- not yet, anyway -- but Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner and Browns' 2014 first-round pick, announced Saturday that he plans to sign a two-year deal with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
This development comes six weeks after Manziel took part in the Spring League, a four-team developmental league that played two games over five days. The quarterback showed glimpses of the form that made him one of the most exciting players in college football.
But Manziel won't be gifted the starting job in Hamilton simply based on his past accomplishments.
"Let me tell you something right now, he's got his work ahead of him to beat out Jeremiah [Masoli]," Tiger-Cats coach June Jones said of Manziel, via the National Post.
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Masoli was a two-year starter at Oregon but was kicked off the team after several off-field incidents. He finished his college career at Ole Miss, signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent but was cut during preseason and eventually found his way to the CFL, where he's been with the Tiger-Cats since February 2013.
"[Manziel's] got a lot to catch up on, but he'll spend the time to get that done," Jones continued. "I know he will because he's already learned that lesson."
Manziel has made it clear in recent months that he's matured during his absence from the game.
"The message that I'm sending is showing up every day and going to meetings," he told reporters after his first Spring League game. "Being engaged in everything that is going on during practice and in the game. I can't control what is going on [with NFL teams' interest] and I don't know what's going on in NFL meetings. If that's the case, if the NFL is something that pops up, cool. If not, I'm going to work until I get back there. We'll see how things play out."
Of course, the issue has never been with Manziel's on-field ability but his struggles to avoid trouble off the field. He now says those days are behind him. Speaking with SI.com's Bruce Feldman in March, Manziel conceded that he has to prove that he's changed.
"When I first got in the league, did I have some leeway? Sure I did, but I have exhausted all leeway and all second chances," he said at the time. "This isn't the second chance. This is the 35th chance. This is the last of the last chances to show people that I've made a drastic change in my life, and it's for the better and I'm happy with where I'm at. ... [But] until I get into [an NFL] building and I'm able to show that, it's all just talk. It's all just me saying that I'm different. Now, I know I am."
That journey back to the NFL will first go through Canada, where Manziel will play for two years before he can play professionally in the States.
"Getting back to playing ball, that's what it comes down to," Manziel said Saturday. "That's what I've missed doing. I'm somewhere, I don't even know where, on the Canadian border. Trying to figure this whole thing out and figure out I guess how to play football in Canada. Big day for me. No longer unemployed, getting back to what I want to do. And I'm happy about it."
Source : https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/johnny-manziel-isnt-guaranteed-starting-cfl-job-will-have-to-beat-out-jeremiah-masoli/822