INDIANAPOLIS – Lost in all the hubbub of the NFL scouting combine was a startling plea by a player who dominated the headlines here four years ago.
Johnny Football wants back in the NFL so badly, he will gladly accept a role on the practice squad. Hell, Johnny Football wants to back in the NFL so badly, he’ll play for free.
Ok, so it’s time to think: Should the Raiders consider being a second-chance stop or Manziel? After all, old/new Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden was a big fan of the Heisman Trophy winner when he came into the NFL in 2014 and was drafted 14 spots ahead of Raiders starter Derek Carr by Cleveland. Should Gruden take on the Manziel reclamation project even though he hasn’t played in three years and he has started just eight NFL games?
My previous take on this subject was that it would be a waste of time for the Raiders to bring in Manziel. He was a bust, he was a headcase. Why make him your problem? For what? How would it help?
I thought Gruden should spend the bulk of his time getting Carr right after a 2017 slump. Why waste time on Manziel when you have a starter who needs attention? Also, Manziel isn’t better than Connor Cook – who the Raiders traded up to get two years ago – at this point. Why take the time to spend on a guy like that?
Those premises are still my foundation on Manziel. But, I must confuse, I’m impressed by his humility and desire to get back in. I don’t care about the playing for free comment. That is moot because there is no way the NFLPA would allow it. If the Raiders sign Manziel, he will be paid. But it would be the minimum, so it’s no biggie, anyway.
The part that piqued my Johnny Football interest was the practice squad part. That’s real. It shows Manziel just wants a chance. He will fight from the bottom.
If you have a player that focused on returning to the field, he might be worth looking at. In a perfect world, Manziel gets his head on straight and Gruden makes him an NFL-quality player. Then, perhaps he could be flipped for some value.
Is it a high priority? No, of course not. But if Gruden thinks he can get the most out of Manziel while getting Carr right, it could be a good low-risk consideration.