TORONTO — The Canadian Football League issued a statement Thursday that said Commissioner Randy Ambrosie is prepared to approve a contract for free agent quarterback Johnny Manziel should one be negotiated.
The statement reads:
“Since last summer, the Canadian Football League has been engaged in a thorough process to determine the eligibility of Johnny Manziel. This process has been conducted with the cooperation of Mr. Manziel and independent of the team which currently holds his CFL rights, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
It has included an ongoing assessment by an independent expert on the issue of violence against women, a review by legal counsel, and an in-person interview of Mr. Manziel conducted by the Commissioner. As well, Mr. Manziel has been required to meet a number of conditions set by the league.
As a result of this process, the Commissioner has now informed Mr. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats he is prepared to approve a contract for Mr. Manziel should one be negotiated.
The process that led to this decision does, however, continue. Mr. Manziel has been informed he must continue to meet a number of conditions in order to remain eligible. These conditions, while extensive and exacting, remain confidential.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have 10 days to make an offer to Johnny Manziel in order to keep his rights or to trade his rights to another team. If Manziel does not receive an offer from the Tiger-Cats or isn’t traded by January 7th, 2018, he will become a free-agent.“
Manziel’s exclusive negotiation rights currently belong to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the club confirmed that last September they did indeed work out the 25-year-old free agent.
The Tiger-Cats also issued a statement in reaction to the League’s decision saying, “We have been notified that Johnny Manziel, on our negotiation list since September 2012, has gone through the formal process established by Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, and that provided he meets the conditions laid out to him by the Commissioner, is now eligible to play in the Canadian Football League in 2018 and beyond.
“We appreciate the CFL office and Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s due diligence in this matter. We also recognize Johnny Manziel for thus far demonstrating the attributes necessary to continue his career in our great league. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Chatter around Manziel joining the Tiger-Cats picked up this month as the Tiger-Cats try and navigate through their quarterback situation. Jeremiah Masoli is scheduled to become a free agent and last week, Head Coach June Jones sparked more talk about the Texas A&M product when he said he Manziel could be the best player to ever play in the CFL.
“I think he’d be the best player to ever play up here,” Jones told the league’s official podcast, The Waggle. “He can throw it and he can run it like nobody ever has been able to do.”
Manziel was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round, 22nd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 24-year-old played in five games in his rookie season, connecting on 18 of 35 passes for 175 yards and two interceptions. He also rushed nine times for 29 yards and a touchdown that year.
In his second season with the Browns in 2015, Manziel played in nine games while completing 129 of his 223 passes for 1,500 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. The Texas A&M alum also rushed 37 times for 230 yards that season.
Manziel was released by the Browns in March of 2016 and did not sign with any other NFL team since.