I know what many of you are thinking… “There’s no way this guy is worth the risk!” My response would be quite simply, “What risk?” We’re not talking about burning a round one draft pick here. We’re talking about stealing one of the greatest college quarterbacks in NCAA history out of free agency for pennies on the dollar.
Due to Johnny Manziel’s off-field antics, many teams have already written him off as an NFL bust at just 23-years-old. This leaves a perfect opportunity for a team to cash in on Manziel’s unique talent at a majorly discounted rate. Is there a level of risk for the team who signs him? Sure, but the risk is minimal, and the potential reward is huge. Despite Manziel’s off-field issues, he is still one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league and indisputably the best free agent quarterback currently on the market. In case you forgot all that Manziel accomplished during his tenure at Texas A&M, we provided a small list below. Keep in mind, this list doesn’t include all of the NCAA records that Manziel broke.
- Heisman Trophy (2012)
- Davey O’Brien Award (2012)
- Manning Award (2012)
- Chic Harley Award (2012)
- AP Player of the Year (2012)
- Sporting News Player of the Year (2012)
- Consensus All-American (2012)
- SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2012)
- First-team All-SEC (2012, 2013)
- Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP (2012)
- SEC Male Athlete of the Year (2013)
- Chick-fil-A Bowl Offensive MVP (2013)
There is no question that Manziel is talented, and a rare talent at that. The bigger questions are: Do the Dolphins have a real need for additional depth at quarterback? (and) Can Manziel get his personal life in order? Fortunately, we have the answer to both of those questions.
First, the Dolphins absolutely need depth at quarterback. In 2015, Tannehill’s drop-off in performance was believed by many analysts to be a reflection of the lack of competition at the quarterback position in Miami. The logical explanation was to bring in some young talent to push Tannehill. Miami failed to hit the mark with McLeod Bethel-Thompson last season, who proved to be nothing more than a practice squad quarterback.
This offseason the Dolphins allowed Matt Moore to test the market while they worked out other free agent options, including Brandon Weeden. After it was all said and done, Miami re-signed the aging veteran, Matt Moore. Ultimately, this was a great insurance policy for Ryan Tannehill. Among the available free agent quarterbacks, Moore is arguably the most talented and certainly has the experience as an NFL starter. Moore has also established a great relationship with Tannehill in Miami over the past four seasons, so the signing makes sense. However, Moore is now 31-years-old. If Tannehill has another season like 2015, the Dolphins will be forced to face the fact that they still don’t have a long-term answer at quarterback.
There are currently several critical needs on the Dolphins roster including cornerbacks, linebackers, running backs, offensive guards, depth at defensive end, depth at wide receiver and more. Therefore, it seems hard to believe that Miami would invest any early draft pick in 2016 or 2017 on a quarterback. And if not through the draft, then where will the answer at quarterback come from? The top free agent quarterbacks to hit the market in 2017 will be Drew Brees (37), Andrew Luck (26), and Kirk Cousins (27), all of whom will likely re-sign with their current teams. If all three re-sign, then Miami’s market will be Brian Hoyer, Mark Sanchez, and Case Keenum. It’s a pretty bleak market out there for quarterbacks, no matter how you look at it.
We have addressed both Manziel’s unique athletic ability, as well as the Dolphins need for depth at quarterback, now it’s time to address how Manziel can turn around his personal off-field issues. The primary reason we believe Manziel could get his act together in Miami has very little to do with the nightlife scene, and everything to do with who his mentors would be here. In case you forgot, Manziel played behind Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M, therefore this wouldn’t be the first time Tannehill mentored Manziel. Furthermore, Matt Moore returning to Miami gives an additional level of mentorship. You’d be hard-pressed to find any two quarterbacks in the NFL who carry themselves in a more professional manor both on and off the field than Tannehill and Moore. Both are consummate professionals, and family men. Between these two guys, we are confident Manziel could turn his personal issues around and gain a fresh start in Miami.
If Tannehill doesn’t pan out as the franchise quarterback the Dolphins were hoping for, Manziel has the potential to be a long-term NFL starter in the right offensive system. Should the Dolphins take the risk? If they don’t someone else surely will. Don’t expect Manziel to end up in the CFL or any NFL practice squads just yet. There are several teams in need of help at quarterback that will be willing to take the risk on Manziel if they fail to land a legitimate quarterback in the draft. Whether Manziel ends up in Miami or not, there is certainly still a market for this talented, young quarterback.