Reports surfaced on Thursday that the New Orleans Saints and head coach Sean Payton have “taken an interest” in free-agent quarterback Johnny Manziel.
FA QB Johnny Manziel has kept a low-profile as he trains for a return. #Saints coach Sean Payton appears to have taken an interest in him.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2017
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise considering Manziel is still only 24 years old and is seen as a talented quarterback. Though, there’s surely a whole lot more that comes into play here.
First off, Manziel is facing a suspension once he returns to the NFL. Secondly, the former Heisman winner has a long history of off-field issues, including a domestic violence case and substance abuse.
Is New Orleans a good fit for Manziel? How would the dynamic work out?
Here’s a look at four reasons why Johnny Manziel to the Saints makes absolutely no sense.
Saints just drafted a developmental quarterback
Whether the Saints view Garrett Grayson as their quarterback of the future remains to be seen. He has not seen a lot of action in the regular season. In fact, the Colorado State product has not yet attempted a single regular season pass in two NFL seasons.
With that said, New Orleans did exhaust an early third-round pick on Grayson. He was looked at as nothing more than a developmental quarterback behind future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Two years into the process, it’s unlikely the Saints have a real grasp of what he might be able to bring to the table.
Wouldn’t New Orleans be better off promoting Grayson to No. 2 on the depth chart while adding another developmental guy late in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft? He has a working relationship with both Brees and head coach Sean Payton. That’s something Manziel surely can’t say.
Manziel is not a scheme fit
As we’ve seen throughout his tenure in the Bayou, Payton’s offense requires quick reads, pinpoint accuracy and tremendous pocket awareness. These are three things Manziel has never shown, even during his elite-level playing days at College Station.
Some might conclude that Manziel was strong with quick reads at Texas A&M. Considering the offense they ran, that makes sense. But it was almost always his first read. The Saints’ offense is predicated on going through reads in a short period of time and then placing the ball in an area where the receiver can put up yards after the catch (YAC). It’s a paramount theme of Payton’s offense, one that Brees himself has mastered.
There’s going to be a lack of interest in quarterbacks of Manziel’s ilk. For reasons still up for debate, this has left Colin Kaepernick unemployed up to now. The same can be said for former Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III.
In reality, defenses have learned how to scheme against the one-read mobile quarterback. That would only be magnified in New Orleans with Manziel tasked with running an offense that doesn’t come close to fitting his skill-set.
No chance to start
Brees has indicated on multiple occasions that he wants to play for the foreseeable future. Any quarterback behind him on the depth chart likely won’t be tasked with starting any time soon. Of course, that’s dependent on Brees himself remaining healthy. Considering the future Hall of Famer has started at least 15 games in each of the past 13 seasons, that’s a strong likelihood.
Manziel was never going to go to a situation where he’d compete for a starting job. That’s just not in the cards. Outside of all the off-field issues he’s dealt with, the former Heisman winner has yet to prove himself as a starter-caliber quarterback. Simply put, his best opportunity is to sit behind a veteran.
With that said, the Saints are one of the few teams that currently boast a quarterback who has both proven to be healthy and effective in recent seasons. That list pretty much includes only the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and these Saints.
Any of those teams would be good situations if his sole goal were to simply hold a clipboard. But knowing Manziel, this surely isn’t what he’s looking for. That could cause some internal strife.
Have you been to Bourbon Street?
Downtown New Orleans is Las Vegas east. It’s filled up with partygoers on a nightly basis. Bottomless Bloody Mary’s are the name of the game. All-night drinking. Bar hopping. Festive atmospheres. All of this has come to define Bourbon Street throughout the years.
Now, place a recovering alcoholic into this environment and see what happens. This isnt’ to say that Manziel can’t keep his nose clean off the field. Instead, it tells us a story of an environment that might not help him remain sober. That’s the harsh reality of the situation.
As anyone who has dealt with addiction in their lives will tell you, the atmosphere you surround yourself with will play a big role in your ability to recover from said addiction. It’s a daily grind, one that will sometimes lead to being pushed to the brink of relapse. Considering Manziel’s own past, setting up shop in New Orleans might not be the best thing for him personally.