Johnny Manziel will emerge from rehab one day soon and hopefully will be a new, better man. In fact, I am hearing from people close to Manziel this is the most optimistic they have ever felt about his future.
"I think people will see that he's a different guy now," said a person familiar with Manziel's situation.
That's good. That's what you want to hear. I believe it, too. That's the positive news, I hope.
The Browns said reports that Manziel was released from rehab last week were not correct. What is definitely true is he has spoken to the Browns at least several times, and they feel he is making solid progress.
So, again, that's good, if accurate. Yet this is the problem for Manziel: He returns to a franchise that isn't just a dumpster fire. It's doing something worse. It's giving him no chance to win if and when he returns to football. None. He's dead. Toast.
Manziel may have halted his personal free-fall, but his professional one will continue because the franchise that drafted him has surrounded him with nothing. Just one year later, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will enter far better situations than him.
If I were Manziel, I might indeed request a trade. The texting scandal was bad enough, with a general manager texting down to the sideline smiley faces for plays he liked and sad ones for those he didn't (that's a joke but probably not far off). Now, Manziel will return to a team that has absolutely nothing on offense.
Because of the Browns front office, Manziel has no chance to succeed. Please look at the team's current receivers:
Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Jim Dray, Gary Barnidge and Taylor Gabriel.
Oh. My. God. Might as well run the Wing-T.
I always thought Taylor Gabriel was one of the stars of those Hunger Games movies. I'm sure the Browns will add a more, um, substantial receiver to the roster. But Randy Moss ain't walking through that door. In order to balance out the receiving putridity, Cleveland would have to add Jerry Rice.
Even if the Browns were to add Dwayne Bowe—ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Bowe was visiting the team—that isn't good enough. Bowe has been in a steady decline. He was also part of a Pleistocenic offense in Kansas City. Not exactly sure Michael Crabtree pops the buttons, either.
I know Manziel has been a cocky sum-a-b, but I genuinely feel sorry for him. Truly, completely sorry for him. He didn't ask to be drafted into this clown show, and he certainly didn't ask to be picked as the savior, only to be surrounded by stiffs at receiver.
Manziel was terrible in his five appearances last season, going 18-of-35 for 175 yards, two picks, 29 rushing yards and a touchdown. He was so awful it's legitimate to wonder if he'll ever be any good. But what's certain is he's bound to be a failure if the front office continues to put bums and nobodies on the field around him.
The Browns drafted Manziel with the 22nd pick overall. They will do everything possible to make him the starter, and when he becomes that, what exactly will be around him?
Calm down, dude. The Browns still can draft a wide receiver, you know?
Did you notice the last draft? The first two picks were Manziel and Justin Gilbert. So, there's that.
Manziel enters the most critical part of his career and life. He also enters a sort of chicken-and-egg scenario on several different fronts.
I've criticized Manziel as Eddie Haskell—a tremendous phony who always said the right things but rarely meant it. Again, I've been told that he now is different. If his sincerity is real now, he will still have to prove that to people. They will wonder if he still suffers from a sincerity deficit.
There will also be concerns about the talent deficit. This is where things get equally complicated. It's possible we may never know just how good Manziel is because he's so under-served by the front office. I don't think he has the ability to be a good NFL quarterback, but in fairness it's so early, and in fairness it's likely a totally inept front office will fail to help him.
In fact, at this point, I would trust Manziel over the Cleveland front office, and yes, again, I'm the idiot who once wrote you can trust Browns management.
No, no you can't.
Manziel may return to the team a different man. A better man. But he will return to the same Factory of Sadness.
Maybe a different Manziel. Definitely same ol' Browns.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.
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