Johnny Manziel, currently slated to be dropped by Cleveland on March 9th, is actually having an impact on the league that he never thought possible. Once again, he is expected to dominate headlines, but this time it is not his shenanigans grabbing all the attention. Rather, it is all about the speculation of where he will end up in the Johnny Manziel sweepstakes.
First, before moving forward, I think it important to acknowledge that above all, Johnny Manziel is a human being, who is troubled. We should all hope for him to improve, to better himself, and to turn things around. It is also important to remember that he can change if he works hard and has support from those around him. He also has loved ones who care about his well being, and want to see him succeed. The Browns were unable to help him, and perhaps they never really had the ability to work with someone like him – talented, but troubled.
Which brings us to the obvious choice to help him turn things around, the Dallas Cowboys. They are being increasingly linked to both drafting a QB and/or having an interest in picking one up in the draft. The big question is, how will they choose? The Cowboys have a track record of working with troubled young players and helping them grow into respected men. Everyone deserves a second chance (or two) and I sincerely believe that Manziel has the talent to become a productive player in the NFL (and in society). He needs the right people surrounding him, and helping him grow. If the Cowboys can fill that role, they will get a decent value added QB at low cost to them.
However, with all that being said, grabbing Manziel is not the only option, and obviously a more risky prospect. Keeping in mind that the Cowboys have the #4 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28th, they do have some other options right now. In addition to Manziel, Robert Griffen III is expected to be cut as well. For those Cowboys fans who (probably rightly so) don’t want to go anywhere near Johnny, there are choices to evaluate. Here are the possible scenarios that could play out:
1) Grab Manziel and Draft a QB
2) Grab RGIII and Draft a QB
3) Grab Manziel and grab high impact player
4) Grab RGIII and grab high impact player
5) Grab Manziel, trade down, and grab impact player
6) Grab RGIII, trade down, and grab impact player
7) Grab Neither RGIII nor Manziel and draft as normal
8) Pick up another free agent QB (Tim Tebow, anyone?) and grab impact player
9) Trade Down and neither draft a QB or pick up a QB, stockpiling picks
10) Grab both Manziel and RGII, and another player in the draft
Clearly, there are a lot of directions that the Cowboys organization could go in. There are several factors influencing their decisions, as well as questions to answer before a choice can be made. What are the long term needs of the Cowboys? Which player can best learn from Romo, and flourish in the Cowboys system? What kind of role can each player accept? How can they get the most value? How can the player help the Cowboys reach their goals (getting back to the playoffs)? These questions, among others, must be evaluated carefully before a decision can be reached.
There is no doubt that Manziel has talent. If he hadn’t hurt himself with all the self-defeating behavior, he might now be the starter in a city that cherishes their stars. Instead, he now has two lost seasons under his belt, and may have to enter some sort of rehabilitation program again. He may be suffering mentally, but physically he has no injuries and can make plays. He is obviously going to have to hit the reset button with a team willing to give him a chance. The real questions are: does Johnny still want to play football, and will he make the commitment necessary to succeed? Some wonder if the high pressure situation is even good for a guy whose father is worried for his life. Another way of looking at this is that football could give him the outlet he needs to focus on his future. Whatever the case, Manziel will be lucky to even make another team at this stage, and would be low on the depth chart, which in my opinion, can’t be a bad thing.
RG3, on the other hand, has had no personal troubles whatsoever. He has legitimately started a few seasons, and has proven talent. The downside is that he has been injured and ineffective to the point that he lost his starting job. In addition to this, RG3 had a terrible relationship with the Redskins, who seemed at times to take advantage of him by playing him even when injured. Some say both sides are to blame, and it will be up to RG3 to prove that he was treated badly, wherever he goes. Some important questions are: can RG3 accept a backup role, or is he aiming higher? Is RGIII a good fit in the Cowboys system? Is Dallas a good long term solution for him? RG3 has 2 years more in the league than Manziel, and may not be satisfied backing up Romo for two or three more years until he can have the chance to start. The last thing the Cowboys would want is a QB controversy if Romo goes down for a few games, which seems to happen at least once a year. RG3 could be better suited at a team who needs an immediate starter, and may not want to ride the bench. Additionally, the Cowboys have a gunslinging type of offense, one that RG3 might not be as suited for.
Consequently, Jerry Jones could easily decide to pass on them both and go for a future QB in the draft. Carson Wentz has been linked to them at the 4th pick, and could fill a needed role. However, none of the current QBs seem to stand out, like Andrew Luck or Blake Bortles did when they were drafted. Jerry Jones could easily sign a free agent such as Mazniel, RG3, or Tim Tebow for that matter, and then grab a high impact defensive player or offensive linesman. This strategy could really turn the tide in their favor. For a team that seems to be in rebuilding mode yet again, wouldn’t it make more sense to try to pick up a few bargain players who have potential, then trade down and stockpile draft picks to set them up for the next few years? There will be a stud QB coming up in the draft in the future, and it may benefit the Cowboys to wait for him.
Whatever the case, the Cowboys are officially on the clock. The Super Bowl has just ended with the Cowboys no where close to being on that field. March is fast approaching, and this offseason will be huge for them. Their choices at the QB position are vast, but only a few could see the results they desire. With the right analysis, some good player/staff relationships, and a bit of luck, Dallas could potentially hit the jackpot.