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Does Johnny Manziel have an NFL future?


Now that the Cleveland Browns have resolved to cut ties with Johnny Manziel once the new league year starts in March, the next question is whether football's tabloid sensation has an NFL future.

As an early-round draft pick with a penchant for partying, the natural comparison is to Brett Favre, who once conceded that he "tried to drink up Atlanta" as a Falcons rookie in 1991.

"I had to get him out of Atlanta. ... I could not sober him up," former Falcons coach Jerry Glanville explained. "I sent him to a city where at 9:00 at night the only thing that's open is Chili Joe's. ... And that's what made Brett Favre make a comeback -- (it) was going to a town that closed down."

Green Bay was the NFL's far-flung outpost in the pre-internet era of the early 1990s, shutting Favre off from temptation and prying eyes. That situation cannot be duplicated in 2016, with Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat turning Manziel's missteps into instantaneous tabloid fodder.

Whereas Favre boasted the prototypical size and arm strength to excel in any offensive scheme, Manziel comes with on-field questions in addition to the off-the-field concerns.

Slightly built at 6-foot-0 and just over 200 pounds, Manziel is an injury risk as a scrambling quarterback who can't consistently escape the clutches of linebackers and defensive ends like he did in college.

Although he showed flashes of potential in six 2015 starts, Manziel has trouble running the coaches' offense, operating best as a sandlot-style quarterback once the play breaks down.

His 57.0 completion rate ranks 42nd out of 44 quarterbacks with at least 250 pass attempts over the past two seasons.

Is that limited package worth a flier if it comes with a media circus reminiscent of Tim Tebow's ill-fated stint with the Jets? Unlike Tebow, Manziel is saddled with issues of trust, dependability and commitment to football.

Every game, all season

If Manziel does receive a second chance, the natural connection is to his home-state Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

On the prowl for a backup to Tony Romo, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hinted last month that Manziel is worth the risk. Jones was so intent on drafting Manziel two years ago that he was still "damn mad" about missing out four months after the Texas A&M star landed in Cleveland.

Manziel's image is so damaged in league circles, however, that he might have to show contrition and spend another offseason at a rehabilitation clinic to attract an offer.

"I'm not sure either of those (Texas) teams is actually interested in Manziel, mainly because of his off-the-field behavior," NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport said Tuesday. "If he cleans it up, I think they could be. But at this point, I would not expect interest from either of those teams for Manziel in his current state."

Second chances in professional sports are directly proportional to talent level. It will be fascinating to see where Manziel falls on that spectrum going forward.


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