Arizona Cardinals: Johnny Manziel As Carson Palmer’s Successor?

Johnny Manziel’s NFL career has been tumultuous, but he’s looking for another chance. Could the Arizona Cardinals give that to him?

The NFL seems to be a place for second chances. Heck, make that third and fourth chances. Continuously, players make stupid decisions that give themselves and the teams in which they play for a bad reputation. Johnny Manziel is just another case of that.

Manziel had a party reputation and a cocky attitude throughout his time at Texas A&M before the  Cleveland Browns selected him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Those traits followed him into the NFL and, after only two seasons, he was released last offseason.

Prior to his release in Cleveland agent Erik Burkhardt had terminated his contract with Manziel.  Famous sports agent Drew Rosenhaus picked him up, but gave the former Heisman Trophy winner a five-day ultimatum to turn around. That didn’t work.

Now, After taking a year off—and re-enrolling at Texas A&M—Manziel is ready to get back into the league. He’s made his first step by teaming up with a familiar face: Burkhardt. Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reported the news on Wednesday:

Burkhardt has a lot of work to do. Manziel continued to tarnish his reputation while taking a year off by not dropping his partying ways. As Rapoport said, Manziel had to make serious commitments before Burkhardt would accept. What better timing than just a week prior to the new league year starting on March 9?

But for Johnny Football to get another shot at NFL stardom, he’ll need a team to bite—which by the sounds of it, they are starting to nibble. Who’s interested? That’s still a question that needs to be answered. Could it be the Arizona Cardinals?

Head coach Bruce Arians has a track of turning a player’s career around. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was drafted by Arians and the Cardinals in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft and has completely turned his life around in Arizona. Speaking of Mathieu, he could turn out to be Manziel’s saving grace. And if safety Tony Jefferson sticks around the two of them would be his biggest advocates, per Cards Wire of USA Today.

While Manziel would have the support of a couple of Cardinals, general manager Steve Keim and Arians would both need to see him as a legitimate need and, more importantly, not a cause for concern. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Carson Palmer, after turning 37 in December, might not have more than another year left in him. If we’re being optimistic he doesn’t have more than three years left of competitive ball, which Arians already knows per the team’s official website.

Next, the Cardinals front office needs to identify whether or not Manziel would be an upgrade over current quarterbacks on the roster. Drew Stanton has 10 years of success, but hasn’t proven he can lead a team for a full season. Zac Dysert hasn’t been able to keep a roster spot ever since entering the league in 2013.

Neither of the two are equipped to take over for Palmer once he hangs up the cleats. Manziel, on the other hand, never gave himself a chance to be successful in Cleveland. At the same time, he wasn’t the electrifying athlete we all saw at Texas A&M when he did touch the field for the Browns. Here’s a look at his production with Cleveland, per Pro Football Reference:

Passing Table
Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Lng Rate QBR Sk
2014 22 CLE qb 2 5 2 0-2-0 18 35 51.4 175 0 2 32 42.0 9 3
2015 23 CLE qb 2 10 6 2-4-0 129 223 57.8 1500 7 5 61 79.4 62.7 19
Career 15 8 2-6-0 147 258 57.0 1675 7 7 61 74.4 22
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/2/2017.

The biggest argument against Manziel going to Arizona is the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. Keim is in good enough position to select a quarterback 13th overall and, with eight total picks he could have the ammo to move up, if need be. DeShone Kizer, Deshaun Watson, and Mitch Trubisky are all viable options early in Round 1. With a successful NFL Combine and pro day, Patrick Mahomes could hear his name called at 13, too.

We’ll know in the coming days if the comeback for Manziel is legitimate and if any teams are truly interested in his services. Until then, Cardinals fans should at least keep the idea of Manziel coming to Glendale open as a possibility.

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