There is a lot of speculation swirling around the NFL that the Cleveland Browns may have decided to move on from 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel.
That might be fine and dandy, but the team still needs to find a willing trade partner should it decide to actually part ways with him.
Considering Manziel’s current stint in rehab and his absolutely dreadful rookie season, there might not be a lot of teams banging the Browns’ phones for an opportunity to acquire the embattled signal caller.
With that said, the NFL loves a reclamation project.
Here are five teams who should consider calling Cleveland about Manziel. Remember, the asking price here is unlikely to be more than a mid-round pick.
1. San Francisco 49ers
By now it’s not a secret that San Francisco possesses one of the worst backup quarterback situations in the NFL. If the team had not re-signed Blaine Gabbert last month, he likely wouldn’t even be in the league next year. That’s not an exaggeration. This is how bad Gabbert is.
In order for the 49ers to use Colin Kaepernick to the best of his abilities, they need to find someone (anyone) who can come in and perform at even a mediocre level should the starter go down. Short of that, the team is going to hold Kaepernick back due to a fear that it might have to throw Gabbert into the mix.
While stopping short of saying that Manziel is anywhere near a starter-caliber quarterback in the NFL, he possesses more talent on his pinkie than Gabbert has on his entire body. It’s also important to note that new quarterbacks coach Steve Logan has worked wonders with project quarterbacks, most notably David Garrard at East Carolina.
2. Chicago Bears
This seems like somewhat of an awkward fit. There’s some thought out there that Manziel needs to find himself in a situation with a veteran locker room and a stable starting quarterback. The Bears provide neither. Ideally, Cutler would be able to act like a mentor. Reality says that’s not happening.
However, the Bears are in a no-win situation at quarterback. Anyone who thinks Cutler is turning around his career at 32 is living with blinders on. This is only magnified by the presence of a defensive-minded head coach in John Fox and an offensive coordinator in Adam Gase who only has experience leading a unit with Peyton Manning under center.
Simply put, the Bears need to look in another direction in the not-so-distant future. Giving Cutler one more year is fine. Attempting to continue this project beyond that would be utterly foolish. That’s where Manziel comes in. Why not send a mid-to-late round pick to the Browns to bring in a high-upside youngster with a lot to prove? It sure beats spending another draft pick on a marginal quarterback prospect.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
What if the Eagles are unable to land Marcus Mariota? Barring a separate deal, that would leave them Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley on the roster. Not a shabby quarterback situation, but obviously something Chip Kelly isn’t adored with. By virtue of the Eagles flirting with (not literally) Tim Tebow, it’s rather apparent that Kelly isn’t afraid of reclamation projects.
Then you have this minor detail. Kelly recruited Manziel extremely hard at Oregon. In fact, the former Heisman Trophy winner was close to coming to Eugene before ultimately deciding on College Station. Manziel is a fit for Kelly’s offense, and would come a whole heck of a lot cheaper than Mariota.
4. Buffalo Bills
EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor don’t exactly form the best quarterback trio. Heck, there’s a chance that Taylor actually wins the starting gig. Sorry fans in Western New York, that might actually happen.
It’s not like Manziel would come in and automatically earn the starting gig. He might not even be as talented as Manuel. But in order for the Bills to make a move at quarterback heading into the season, they are going to have to think outside the box. The team doesn’t possess a first-round pick in a draft that is extremely thin at quarterback. In addition to this, the veteran market isn’t necessarily ripe with talent. Why not throw a mid-round pick the Browns way for a young project? He has to be better than the Shane Carden’s and Sean Mannion’s of the world, right?
5. Seattle Seahawks
There’s still a chance that Seattle brings Tarvaris Jackson back next year. But at this point, B.J. Daniels is currently Russell Wilson’s primary backup. Considering Seattle’s offensive line issues, it would make sense for the team to actually add someone who would be capable of coming in if Wilson were to go down. It remains to be seen if Manziel could be that guy, but consider the alternatives. Outside of re-signing Jackson, there just aren’t any.
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