Johnny Manziel's turbulent time with the Cleveland Browns has come to an end. The team announced the release of its 2014 first-round pick Friday, severing ties with yet another premium investment at the quarterback position.
Manziel will now hit waivers, which means anyone can sign him and pick up his contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The quarterback released a statement on the decision, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
Manziel wore out his welcome in Cleveland. That he was cut with multiple years left on a relatively inexpensive contract instead of being traded for at least some compensation is evidence of the Browns' intolerance for the 23-year-old's antics.
Rapoport noted Manziel already received $7.7 million guaranteed from his contract, plus "millions in marketing," despite being cut.
Between an awful rookie season, a subsequent stint in rehab, a public argument with his girlfriend in October and lying to the Browns about partying on the Week 11 bye after being named the starter, Manziel has had his issues. When he was benched for Austin Davis, the writing was on the wall that Manziel's stint in Cleveland was near an end.
Then, Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown issued the following statement Feb. 2:
We've been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field. Johnny's continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization. His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time.
For all of Manziel's self-inflicted problems in his young career, the former Heisman Trophy winner did show improvement on the gridiron in 2015.
He appeared to improve with every game experience, highlighted by a Week 2 win over the Tennessee Titans, 372 yards passing against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10 and a victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14.
Someone is bound to take a chance on Manziel.
The MMQB's Peter King reported in January that Manziel wants to be a Dallas Cowboy. ESPN's Adam Schefter (via The Dan Patrick Show's Andrew Perloff) reported in December that the then-St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers have "looked hard" at the signal-caller in the past.
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The question is whether Manziel can be dedicated enough to conducting himself properly away from the field to realize his NFL potential. Another alleged incident occurred between him and his ex-girlfriend in late January, which further justifies the Browns' decision to release him.
Strange as it is to say, the QB position was not Cleveland's biggest issue in 2015, as its defense struggled mightily. With Davis and Josh McCown still under contract for another two years, the Browns may instead prioritize upgrading their 29th-ranked scoring defense through the draft and free agency.
But with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Cleveland may look to the long-term future at the important position it hasn't settled on since returning to the league in 1999.