Johnny Manziel waived by Browns

ByPat McManamon via ESPN logo
Saturday, March 12, 2016
ESPN

Johnny Manziel is no longer a member of the Cleveland Browns.

In a move that was no surprise, the team announced Friday that Manziel has been waived.

Manziel was the 22nd overall selection by the Browns in 2014, their second of two first-round draft picks that year. But his two seasons in Cleveland were marred by off-the-field struggles and limited on-the-field success.

His selection in the draft was greeted with excitement and acclaim in Cleveland. Fans have treated his departure the opposite way, with some bars planning a "Say Bye to Johnny" event.

Manziel responded to the news in a statement Friday afternoon.

"I'd like to thank the Browns for the opportunity they gave me -- nearly two years ago, we all hoped that we were building what could be a championship team for Cleveland," he said. "I will always remember the support I received from the organization, my teammates and especially the fans."

Manziel will be on waivers for 24 hours. Assuming he clears, Manziel can choose where he wants to play next but has hurdles to clear regarding his behavior. His off-the-field issues make his immediate future a question mark. Manziel spent 10 weeks in rehab after his rookie season and is the subject of a grand jury investigation in Dallas into whether he assaulted his former girlfriend. The NFL is investigating whether Manziel violated the personal conduct policy in that incident.

The Browns still will be responsible for Manziel's guaranteed base salaries of $1.169 million in 2016 and $1.004 million in 2017, although any team that claims him on waivers would assume those guarantees. The Browns' salary-cap hit for releasing him is $4.33 million.

Since he spent the weekend of the Browns' season finale in Las Vegas, Manziel has made regular appearances on social media from locales that include Miami, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Manziel's partying and social media appearances in the NFL started the night the Browns drafted him, with a celebration in New York City that included Drake and magnums of champagne. The lifestyle continued through his rookie season, when he struggled on the field and missed a Week 17 walk-through because he was out late the night before.

Manziel went to rehab from January through April last year and returned with a promise to tamp down the hype.

He led the Browns to a win over the Tennessee Titans in the second game of the 2015 season but returned to the backup role two weeks later when Josh McCown was cleared from a concussion. When McCown was injured later in the year, Manziel struggled against Cincinnati but threw for 372 yards in a loss to Pittsburghin Week 10 and was named the Browns' starter for the rest of the season.

A bye-week social media video of him at a club in Texas appeared the following Monday, and Manziel lied to the coaching staff, saying it was an old video when it wasn't. That so angered the Browns that Manziel was made the third-string quarterback. He returned to the starting lineup only after McCown broke his collarbone and Austin Davis struggled in December.

Manziel started three games in December, winning one. On the Wednesday before the season finale, he showed up late to a team meeting. The Browns pulled him out of the meeting and soon announced he was in the concussion protocol, but reports say he was in Las Vegas the night before and day of the season finale. A team executive told ESPN's Adam Schefter in January that the Browns did not believe he was in Vegas.

After police were called about the domestic violence incident on Jan. 29, new director of football operations Sashi Brown said on Feb. 2 that Manziel's behavior "undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization."

Manziel's father told The Dallas Morning News in February that he feared his son would not see his 24th birthday in December if he did not get help. Manziel told TMZ he was fine.

At the scouting combine, coach Hue Jackson said the Browns would "draw a line" and "that behavior will not be tolerated as we move forward."

Manziel's waiving allows the Browns to have a fresh start and to move on from the constant attention and questions he drew.

In two seasons with the Browns, Manziel played in 15 games with eight starts. The Browns went 2-6 in those starts. Manziel has completed 147 of 258 passes (57 percent) with seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and a career passer rating of 74.4.

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