HAMILTON — Johnny Manziel is headed to the Hammer.
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback announced on Twitter early Saturday that he signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Manziel’s decision to join the CFL brings to an end months of speculation as he tried to find a way back into professional football.
“Made the decision today to sign my contract with the CFL and further my football career after a long break,” said Manziel in the tweet. “Very grateful for everyone that’s been supporting me along the way. I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I’m eager for what the future holds.”
Selected out of Texas A&M by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft — No. 22 overall — Manziel threw as many interceptions (seven) as touchdown passes with the Browns during two seasons.
In 2016, a domestic assault charge against Manziel in Dallas was dismissed after Manziel took an anger management course and participated in the NFL’s substance-abuse program. Manziel later said he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has stopped drinking alcohol.
In December, the CFL said it had begun a thorough process to determine the eligibility of Manziel, including an assessment by an independent expert on domestic violence, a review by legal counsel, and an in-person discussion conducted by league commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
The CFL was willing to approve a contract for Manziel for the 2018 season provided one was negotiated and he continued to meet a number of conditions set by the league. Those conditions were confidential, but the CFL says they are extensive and exacting.
On Saturday, the CFL announced that Manziel been meeting the league’s conditions, paving the way for the deal.
“The league then advised (Manziel) and the Tiger-Cats it would approve and register a contract for Mr. Manziel, who has also been informed that he must continue to meet these conditions to maintain his eligibility,” said a statement from the league.
In January, after signing a three-year contract to remain as Hamilton’s head coach, June Jones boldly gushed about Manziel’s potential.
“I think he’d be the best player to ever play up here,” Jones said. “He can throw it and he can run it like nobody ever has been able to do.”
Hamilton (6-12) finished third in the East Division last year and missed the CFL playoffs. The Ticats were 0-8 with quarterback Zach Collaros before Kent Austin resigned as head coach and was replaced on an interim basis by Jones.
The Ticats signed quarterback Jeremiah Masoli — who went 6-4 after being named Hamilton’s starter by Jones — and receiver Brandon Banks to contract extensions in January.