Johnny Manziel Have to Be Traded?


The Cleveland Browns are new to this whole winning thing. Brian Hoyer is new to this whole starting QB in the NFL thing. Yet the two combined have been wildly successful. Hoyer, the hometown kid, bringing the Browns out of the ashes (cliché phoenix metaphor) to make a run at the playoffs.

The problem is that Brian Hoyer’s contract is up at the end of this season and the Cleveland Browns traded up a few picks in the first round to select Johnny Manziel in this year’s draft. The thought was that sometime this year Manziel would take over and Hoyer would take a backseat. That is now only going to happen if Hoyer gets injured.

That leaves the Browns and Hoyer’s camp in a tough situation. The Browns are winning with Hoyer and he has embraced and been embraced by the city. While Hoyer isn’t perfect, winning cures all ills. The Browns have an offense that Hoyer can excel in. He is making good reads, making tons of audibles at the line and is making good decisions with the ball. He has one interception on the year. The Browns have a legitimate starting NFL QB. By performance they have a Top 15 type QB. But they also have Manziel.

For Hoyer this season has been a dream. He gets to play QB for the team he grew up rooting for. He beat out the hyped 1st rounder in Johnny Manziel to get the job and has taken control of the team. He has kept his team in every game and shown a great deal of poise. He hasn’t let the pressure get to him and he has the trust of his teammates. Personally he has also earned himself a ton of cash but where will he get paid and play next season?

Likely Hoyer would love for that to be in Cleveland. Yet would he put pen to paper with Manziel still on the roster? Jason Cole of Bleacher Report does not think so:

Cole makes some interesting points there. With non-guaranteed contracts, even though Hoyer would have a good amount in guarantees, and a front office, and ownership, that drafted Manziel in power, what would he be signing on for? Signing a big contract without feeling like the team was fully behind you could derail Hoyer’s career before it got fully up and running.

So do the Browns HAVE to trade Manziel? No.

Yet trading Manziel could do a couple of things that may be in the Browns best interest long-term. First Hoyer would likely sign a long-term deal with the team and be set as the team’s leader for the foreseeable future. Second, especially if Hoyer’s camp helps the Browns play the PR game right, the Browns could get back some assets to improve the team around Hoyer. Third it takes all the risk of Manziel out of the Browns hands.

Manziel has not proven that he will be able to adapt to the NFL game. It does not mean he won’t but his pre-season action stirred up a good amount of concern. Manziel’s off the field issues are also a risk for the Browns. He enjoys his life and could put himself in a situation that could derail his career or at least create controversy for the team. With the NFL’s hardening stance on off the field issues, Manziel could be a problem.

Trading Manziel is where things get difficult. Prior to the season we noted that the Dallas Cowboys would always be a trade partner for the Browns with Manziel. Part of that was an assumption, like many analysts, that the Cowboys would struggle this year and Jerry Jones could look to make a splash. An injury to Tony Romo could still lead to a 1st round pick from the Cowboys for Manziel.

Other teams are far less likely to give the Browns a 1st rounder. Instead the Browns may be able to acquire a second round pick and something conditional, or another player, for Manziel in the off-season. The Dolphins have been looking for an answer at QB for years, and could move on from Ryan Tannehill. The Jets are a mess and may have caused long-term damage to Geno Smith‘s confidence. Same for the Bills and EJ Manuel (Thanks for the picks). The Texans, Raiders, Titans and others could be in the market for a QB as well.

The Browns have long struggled to find a quarterback that can play at an NFL level. Hoyer is proving that he can but trading Manziel seems like a risk, even if he hasn’t proven anything. That could leave the Browns to either choose between the QBs or Franchise Tag Hoyer at the end of the season, which could cause the team to lose Jordan Cameron and others.

Do you think Manziel has to be traded for Hoyer to stay?