Johnny Manziel went to the CFL for a fresh start.
The Ticats dealt Manziel Sunday, along with offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice, to the Alouettes for receiver Chris Williams, defensive end Jamaal Westerman plus first-round picks in both 2020 and 2021.
It’s unclear when exactly we’ll see Manziel take the reins and start for an Alouettes team that sits at 1-4 six weeks into the 2018 campaign, but the man that pulled off the trade is excited at the possibilities.
“His game does translate well up here,” Alouettes general manager Kavis Reed told Brad Fay and Richard Deitsch on Prime Time Sports Tuesday. “The talent and skill set [Manziel has] fits our game and he’s a young man that can make a lot of different things happen on this big field.”
Manziel is still learning the CFL game — and now he must learn yet another new playbook — but he did have moderate success when he saw action with the Ticats in the pre-season.
The 25-year-old former Cleveland Browns star completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 168 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers while adding 29 rushing yards in his two appearances. He was stuck on the sidelines during the regular season, though, buried behind Jeremiah Masoli, who’s playing well as Hamilton’s starter thus far this year.
The Alouettes had held some interest in Manziel for quite some time before pulling off the move that made headlines both north and south of the border.
Reed explained that the Alouettes began casually discussing the possibility of adding Manziel roughly 20 months ago, despite the fact the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner had been on the Hamilton negotiation list since he moved on from his days at Texas A&M.
Ticats GM Eric Tillman told Prime Time Sports Monday that Hamilton quietly let Montreal put Manziel through a workout in Dallas in the summer of 2017. Tillman then added Reed and the Alouettes approached him with a “very, very aggressive offer” last week.
Reed said the team began making some “basic inquiries because we had quarterback injuries” a couple weeks ago. When Alouettes starter Drew Willy suffered a hand injury that required stitches against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday it kicked trade talks into high gear.
“I felt in practice today I improved and learned a lot. As for my timetable moving forward, I trust [Reed and Als coach Mike Sherman] to put me in a situation to succeed,” Manziel told reporters in Montreal Monday. “When they’re ready, they’ll give me a chance. Until then, I’ll come in and work like I need to work to catch up at a rapid pace. I’ve tempered my expectations a bit. I’ve been away from the game a bit. I know it will be a process.”
The Alouettes host the 3-2 Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday.