CFL teams in a frenzy over Manziel

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS - Dan RALPH

The Johnny Manziel saga has taken an un­usual twist with mul­ti­ple CFL teams in­ter­ested in se­cur­ing exclusive ne­go­ti­at­ing rights to the for­mer Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner.

Ac­cord­ing to a source, Manziel’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives told the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats on Sept. 2 they wanted a con­tract of­fer from the CFL club. Manziel has been on the Ti­cats’ 45-man ne­go­ti­a­tion list since his col­lege days at Texas A&M.

So in ac­cor­dance with CFL rules, the Ti­cats then had 10 days – un­til last Tues­day to be ex­act – to make a con­tract of­fer, trade Manziel’s CFL rights or sim­ply stand pat, which would’ve re­sulted in Manziel au­to­mat­i­cally com­ing off Hamil­ton’s list. But the source said the sit­u­a­tion has been com­pli­cated by the fact mul­ti­ple teams have ex­pressed in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing Manziel’s rights.

That prompted a re­quest for an ex­ten­sion un­til Sun­day, which was granted. The CFL wasn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment but a sec­ond source said one rea­son for the ex­ten­sion was to put in place a process for Manziel and fu­ture play­ers who’ve faced allegations of vi­o­lence against women in the past.

The league has said Manziel would have to un­dergo an as­sess­ment with a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence preven­tion of­fi­cial and meet with com­mis­sioner Randy Am­brosie, who’d then de­cide whether to ap­prove the con­tract. In Janu- ary 2016, Manziel was charged af­ter be­ing ac­cused of hit­ting and threat­en­ing a for­mer girl­friend be­fore reach­ing an agree­ment with pros­e­cu­tors to dis­miss the case.

Erik Burkhardt, Manziel’s agent, didn’t im­me­di­ately re­turn tele­phone and email mes­sages Thurs­day. Also, the Ti­cats didn’t make Kent Austin, their vice-pres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions, avail­able to dis­cuss the Manziel sit­u­a­tion.

The Ti­cats (2-8) chase a third straight win Fri­day night when they host the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers (5-5) and Hamil­ton head coach June Jones said that’s where his pri­or­ity lies.

“I’m not re­ally wor­ried about guys that aren’t here,” he said. “We’re wor­ried about this game, that’s all I’m think­ing about and don’t re­ally know what all the ifs might be.”

On Tues­day night, word sur­faced that Manziel’s camp had in­formed the Ti­cats about want­ing a con­tract of­fer to thus open the 10-day win­dow. How­ever, there was never an in­di­ca­tion when this had ac­tu­ally taken place.

It’s un­clear which teams are in­ter­ested in Manziel but any club ac­quir­ing him would have an ad­di­tional 10 days af­ter the con­sum­ma­tion of the deal to make him a con­tract of­fer. If an of­fer was made and Manziel turned it down, he’d re­main on the fran­chise’s ne­go­ti­a­tion list for up to a year from the date of re­jec­tion.

A team could ini­tially present Manziel a two-year deal – one year plus an op­tion – for the league min­i­mum of $53,000 an­nu­ally know­ing it’d be turned down. But it would be with the un­der­stand­ing two sides would have up to a year to work out a more suit­able agree­ment while en­sur­ing Manziel doesn’t step on to a CFL field with another fran­chise.

Hamil­ton put the five-foot-11, 210-pound Manziel through a se­ries of med­i­cal and phys­i­cal tests Aug. 23-24 in Buf­falo. N.Y. be­fore team coaches and front-of­fice per­son­nel. Austin con­firmed the test­ing Aug. 30 but said at the time the club wasn’t in­ter­ested in sign­ing the for­mer Texas A&M star.

Manziel cap­tured the 2012 Heis­man Tro­phy as U.S. col­lege foot­ball’s top player, be­com­ing the first fresh­man ever to win the award. The Cleve­land Browns took Manziel – af­fec­tion­ately dubbed Johnny Foot­ball – in the first round, No. 22 over­all in the 2014 NFL draft.

But fol­low­ing two tu­mul­tuous sea­sons, the Browns re­leased Manziel in March 2016 af­ter he posted a 2-6 record as a starter.

AP FILE PHOTO

Play­ing for the NFL’s Cleve­land Browns, Johnny Manziel looks to pass against the Seat­tle Sea­hawks in De­cem­ber 2015.

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