Could the Johnny Manziel comeback tour now have an ounce of credibility?
Manziel is still subject to suspension for a violation of the league's personal-conduct policy. He spent the better part of a calendar year appearing in various photos and videos documenting his freewheeling -- and sometimes troubling -- lifestyle.
Manziel, however, claims to have made a concerted effort to turn his life around, recently telling a Dallas judge that, "Everything has been going extremely smoothly and my life is trending upward." Manziel also has re-hired agent Erik Burkhardt to help him craft a comeback.
The situation seems quite fluid and will likely be followed up with some platitudes from New Orleans. Teams looking to bring in a controversial player such as Manziel ordinarily couch such explorations as customary due diligence. Whether or not this graduates beyond a meeting remains to be seen.
What we do know is that the Saints should and will be in the market for a Drew Brees successor at some point. Brees is set to become a free agent again at the end of this season but has said multiple times that he plans on playing a few more years. This is good news for Payton, who has won games on the shoulders of Brees' supreme talent for nearly a decade now. Deep into his 30s, the former second-round pick still is throwing for more than 5,000 yards per season. Should the team's defensive rebuild take hold, the Saints could be bound for a return to the playoffs.
Life after Brees is not so simple. Perhaps that is why Payton is at least kicking the tires on a high-upside talent, even if there is a tremendous amount of baggage. Interest in Manziel seems surprising, especially while other high-upside quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick are still available with far fewer issues under their belt.
The draw is Manziel's off-the-cuff playmaking ability which former Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said could sometimes negate the best laid plans by a coaching staff.
In two NFL seasons, Manziel started a total of eight games, completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.