By Matt Citak
Johnny Manziel has not suited up for an NFL game since Week 16 of the 2015 season. In that 17-13 Cleveland loss to the Chiefs, Manziel went 13-32 for 136 yards and one interception, adding 11 rushes for 108 yards. The troubled quarterback sat out the final game of the season with a concussion, but reports circulated that he was in Las Vegas instead of Cleveland with the team that weekend. The Browns released him during the offseason, and Manziel sat out the entire 2016 season.
One year later, Manziel says the year away from the NFL has done him some good. The former-Texas A&M quarterback recognizes the many mistakes he made over the last few years, and is hopeful that a team will offer him an opportunity to make a comeback.
“I know the situation I put myself in,” Manziel told the Dallas Morning News. “I know the year I took off and obviously the mistakes that I made. Right now, I’m hopeful. I’m really hopeful. I think that I made some progress in that regard. But we’ll see. Whenever I get a call, I’ll do whatever I can to make the most of it.”
The thing that Manziel learned the most during his time away, the quarterback said, is just how much he truly misses football.
“A ton. I think the thing I realized over the past year and the thing I realized from being away from it is really how much you miss it,” said Manziel. “That’s all I’ve known for so long. It’s what I love to do. It’s hard. It’s hard sitting here going through OTA time and going through summer time and then getting ready to go through fall camp and not being a part of it. But at the same time, I’m really optimistic and hopeful that I’ll get another chance. That’s really what I’m holding out for every day.”
While Manziel may be ready for a NFL comeback, it is unclear if the NFL feels the same way. NFL teams normally shy away from players who can potentially cause on- or off-field issues, especially when it comes to backup quarterbacks, which Manziel would be at best at this point. Manziel will also certainly bring a media circus along with him wherever he goes, as he did in his two NFL seasons with the Browns. And although he reached an agreement to dismiss the charges, there is also the matter of his alleged history of domestic violence, something that could make teams even more hesitant to offer him an opportunity for a return to the NFL.
At the end of the day, all it takes is one team that’s willing to take a chance on the 24-year old quarterback. Who knows, there could be a front office or coaching staff out there that believes they can still tap into the talent that made Manziel a first-round pick just three years ago.