Browns Release Statement on Johnny Manziel's Future

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Browns Release Statement on Johnny Manziel's Future
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The Cleveland Browns issued a statement Tuesday regarding Johnny Manziel following the quarterback's potential assault of an ex-girlfriend Saturday and a subsequent police investigation into the matter.

The statement from Sashi Brown, executive vice president of football operations, was posted to the team website:

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.

As Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com noted, league rules don't permit the Browns to release Manziel—if that's the route the team chooses to go—until next week. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com added that the team is unlikely to cut or trade him until the new league year opens March 9 to preserve cap space.

Cutting him before the new league year would cost the team $4.6 million against the cap, which the team cannot afford, per Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. An unnamed source told McManamon the Browns would indeed cut Manzel when the new league year commenced, however.

It will end a tumultuous two seasons in Cleveland for Manziel if he is indeed released. The former first-round pick started just eight games for the team, appearing in 14 overall and throwing for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed just 57 percent of his passes, and he also rushed for 259 yards and another score.

More troublesome for the Browns than his shaky play on the field, however, were a slew of off-field incidents. As McManamon noted, he missed a walkthrough in the last week of the 2014 season after a late night out on the town and ultimately checked himself into rehab that offseason.

Then, this season, he was investigated for an incident with his longtime girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, after she initially alleged Manziel assaulted her, per Cabot. He was never arrested or charged with a crime in that incident, and the NFL didn't punish him.

He was then named the team's starter for the final six games of the season, though posts on social media showed him with a bottle of champagne at a club over the team's bye week, and he temporarily lost his starting gig.

He also missed the team's final game after being put in concussion protocol, but he was in Las Vegas over the weekend of the finale and missed a treatment session as well, per McManamon.

This latest incident appears to be the final straw for the Browns. It may also be the final straw for teams around the NFL. Manziel's play on the field hasn't been so impressive that other teams will overlook the fact that his tenure with the Browns was marked by distractions and controversy.

Meanwhile, the Browns will almost assuredly address the quarterback position at this year's NFL draft. With the No. 2 overall selection, the team will have its pick of the top three quarterbacks on the board—widely considered to be Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch—unless the Tennessee Titans trade away the top overall selection to a team in need of a quarterback.

Veteran Josh McCown has two years left on his contract, meaning the team could choose to keep him to either start while it grooms a young draft pick, or to serve as a mentor to a new rookie starter.

In other words, the Browns have plenty of contingency plans in place for the post-Manziel era.

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