Johnston: Former CFL quarterback Manziel hasn't spoken to AAF Commanders yet - InfoNews

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Johnston: Former CFL quarterback Manziel hasn't spoken to AAF Commanders yet

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel throws a pass during first half CFL football action against the Toronto Argonauts, in Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
February 28, 2019 - 2:06 PM

San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston says he's spoken to American Alliance of Football chairman Tom Dundon about Johnny Manziel, but not directly to the former CFL quarterback.

The CFL terminated Manziel's contract with the Montreal Alouettes on Wednesday. The league also informed the eight remaining clubs it wouldn't register a contract for Manziel if any tried to sign the former Heisman Trophy winner.

The league said Johnny Football had contravened an agreement that made the Texan eligible to play in the CFL. If Manziel wants to continue playing football, one option could be AAF, which began its inaugural season earlier this month.

The Commanders own Manziel's AAF rights because he played collegiately at Texas A&M. The franchise has seven regular-season games remaining.

Dundon, who owns the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, recently made a US$250-million investment into the AAF and became its chairman.

"I had a conversation with Tom Dundon, he's the one who informed me (Wednesday) of what happened and that Johnny Manziel was now available," Johnston told reporters in San Antonio after practice Thursday. "He just said, 'He belongs to you in San Antonio, what are your thoughts?'

"I said, 'Let's sit back and see what the league things and then we'll move ahead from there.' We're just kind of in a holding pattern right now here locally in San Antonio."

San Antonio, coached by former Winnipeg head man Mike Riley, is tied for third in the four-team West Division with a 1-2 record. Quarterback Logan Woodside is second overall in passing yards (629) but has completed just 50-of-98 attempts and thrown more than twice as many interceptions (five) as TDs (two).

The AAF was founded by TV/film producer Charlie Ebersol and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian. Polian is the former Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis GM who was also a CFL scout (Montreal) and player-personnel director (Winnipeg) and won Grey Cups with both teams.

The standard AAF player contract covers three years and US$250,000 — $70,000, $80,000 and $100,000 in base salaries over the deal. Players can earn more with bonuses.

Johnston said some big-name players have demanded bigger salaries to suit up in the AAF but doesn't believe Manziel is one of them.

"The one thing Tom wants to make sure (of) is that everyone in the Alliance is paid the same," Johnston said. "It sounds as though Johnny Manziel is comfortable coming down here and playing at the salaries that have been established with us in the Alliance."

Manziel was due a Cdn.$75,000 bonus March 1 and scheduled to earn a $202,000 base salary with Montreal in 2019.

Manziel was 2-6 as a starter last season, completing 106-of-165 passes (64.2 per cent) for 1,290 yards with five TDs and seven interceptions. He also ran for 215 yards on 29 carries (7.41-yard average) as Montreal (5-13) finished third in the East Division but missed the CFL playoffs.

The conditions for Manziel's CFL employment were reached in December 2017 between the player and CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie. The league's due diligence included an assessment by an independent expert on domestic violence and a head-to-head meeting between Manziel and Ambrosie.

Exactly what conditions or requirements that were broken or violated weren't divulged. Manziel had sought treatment for anger management and alcohol abuse as part of his acquittal on a 2016 charge of domestic violence. The charge was dismissed after Manziel completed an anger management course and participated in the NFL's substance abuse program.

Manziel, 26, was a star player at Texas A&M, winning the 2012 Heisman Trophy as U.S. college football's top player. He was selected in the first round, No. 22 overall, of the 2014 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.

But following two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released Manziel in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter. He completed 147-of-258 passes (57.0 per cent) for 1,675 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 259 yards and a touchdown.

Manziel had been out of football until signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last May but he was unable to get on to the field behind starter Jeremiah Masoli. The Ticats dealt Manziel and offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice to Montreal in a blockbuster trade July 23 for receiver Chris Williams, defensive end Jamaal Westerman and two first-round draft picks (2020, '21).

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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