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Of all the random news that could have happened on a sleepy Thursday around the NFL, the Denver Broncos talking to free agent quarterback Johnny Manziel really came out of nowhere.
Even though Denver is still trying to solve its post-Peyton Manning/Brock Osweiler quarterback problem, Manziel had not appeared on the radar before Thursday. Then all of a sudden, ESPN's Jeff Legwold and Adam Schefter reported that Denver was interested in the troubled quarterback.
The report said coach Gary Kubiak, who went to Texas A&M like Manziel, had spoken to Manziel about a potential fit on the roster. That was quickly refuted by longtime Broncos beat writer Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, who said the Broncos have "no plans" to sign Manziel and the team hasn't even discussed it. Klis said Kubiak, as a fellow Aggie, has a relationship with Manziel and reached out to him after he was released by the Cleveland Browns, but that's the extent of it.
This looks like a move by Manziel's new agent Drew Rosenhaus to drum up some publicity for Manziel and maybe get NFL teams considering him again (another unsigned Rosenhaus client, Greg Hardy, appeared on ESPN this week with no NFL teams showing interest in signing him), but there are many reasons it's a long shot that Manziel will sign with any NFL team now.
There are a few issues with Manziel, but let's start with the biggest: He has an open domestic violence assault case in Dallas. That has to cloud any interest, because even if a team did sign Manziel, he might be suspended by the NFL for a while.
Second, the off-field questions about Manziel's commitment haven't exactly been answered this offseason. He has been seen in various social media posts out on the town, either oblivious to how it would look to potential NFL employers, or he just didn't care. His career with the Browns was derailed in part due to his partying.
Third, Manziel hasn't shown yet he can be a competent NFL quarterback. Despite his first-round status two years ago and his incredible college career that included a Heisman Trophy, he has posted just a 74.4 rating in two seasons. While he has shown a few flashes of talent, he's far from a sure thing on the field.
If there would be one team to link Manziel to through the media it's probably Denver, due to the Texas A&M connections. Not just Kubiak, but Broncos star linebacker and former Aggie Von Miller has voiced his support for Manziel.
"I love him to death," Miller told GQ. "And he knows the type of support he has. It’s ultimately all up to the individual but it also takes a support system and the type of support Johnny has is second to none. I’m first on that list. Whatever he needs, I’m going to get it done for him."
But it still doesn't make a lot of sense, not even as a negotiating ploy for the Broncos with Colin Kaepernick, who has refused a pay cut to facilitate a trade.
Schefter's story said maybe the Broncos could sign Manziel "down the line," and they want to see how his legal issues play out. Even far, far down the line, It's hard to see why the Super Bowl champions would sign Manziel, unless he shows he has made some pretty significant changes.
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