The Cleveland Browns announced the hiring of a new head coach on Wednesday: former Oakland Raiders boss and Bengals offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson. With this announcement, reports surfaced the newly minted head coach wants the Browns to part ways with Heisman Trophy winning, and embattled quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Just hours before he was introduced to the Browns media, ESPN reported sources close to the situation stated discussions of Manziel’s future with the team was a vocal point, Jackson said he’d prefer the Browns go in a direction sans the 23-year-old, the sources revealed. He “made it clear,” he doesn’t wish to coach Manziel, Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reported. It’s my educated guess that Jackson didn’t, and will not, receive much argument on the topic.
Wednesday, Jackson was asked for his opinion on Manziel, and said he needed time to get in the building, watch tape, and get to know the new faces around him. He doesn’t know Johnny, he said.
“I need to get in this building and have an opportunity to sit down and watch tape. I don’t know Johnny personally, I know who he is, but at the same time I think I have to give everybody on our football team the fair opportunity to see who they are, to truly learn who they are and then make decisions from there.”
Manziel was not present on the sideline, or at the team facility, during the final game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers—he was inactive due to a concussion sustained the week prior. Three days after that concussion was diagnosed, and the same day he skipped a treatment session for it, Manziel was spotted drinking and gambling in Las Vegas, while reportedly attempting to camouflage himself by wearing a blonde wig and fake mustache—his Instagram account would have you believe he was in fact at home, with his dog.
Manziel remained unreachable by the club for the entirety of the weekend by the Browns, and those close to him, no one knew where he was. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam fired head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer the night of the season-ending loss, but just days before, Pettine voiced concern for Manziel, saying there were issues he needed to address in the offseason.
“Here is a guy that has an NFL skill set, he’s very talented, if you spend some time with him, he’s a likable guy, you root for him,” Pettine said at the time. “But there are problems there that we’ll talk as we’re headed to the offseason about getting addressed.
“I’ve said this before, we want to make sure that all of our players are in good shape as people first, players second. Because I don’t think you can be as effective as you can be as a player if things aren’t right off the field. And he’s a good example of that.”
When Haslam fired both Pettine and Farmer, he refrained from comment on Manziel, and said he’d leave it up to the new coaching staff to make football decisions. Other Cleveland-area athletes were paying attention to Haslam’s words, Lebron James’ marketing firm, LRMR, has dropped Manziel as a client, and Nike is considering doing so, according to TMZ Sports.
Perhaps Haslam hasn’t yet made up his mind on Manziel, but Jackson is the perfect man to help him make the decision—he’s widely regarded as a quarterbacks expert who has boosted the performances of QB’s such as Jason Campbell, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, and most recently, Andy Dalton. The Browns possess the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, so perhaps he’ll choose to bring in a fresh face—Cal’s Jarred Goff announced his draft eligibility two weeks ago, and is considered the best quarterback product to come out of Berkeley since MVP and Super Bowl champion, Aaron Rodgers.
To make things very interesting, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee proposed a scenario Wednesday where the Browns make a push for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Jackson has never shied away from his opinion of the 28-year-old former Super Bowl starter—he previously revealed the Raiders had attempted to trade up to draft Kaepernick when he was the head coach in Oakland. Kaepernick won’t come cheap, he carries an $11.9 million cap hit for next season.
The new year league opens in March, which is when the Browns may attempt to trade, or cut Manziel.
David Barclay is an NFL Insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @DJamesIII