Johnny Manziel to New Orleans Saints defies logic for reasons beyond the obvious

Sporting News
Johnny Manziel’s workouts caused a major stir inside the Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization. His agent’s recent proclamation of a Jan. 31 deadline for the Canadian Football League franchise to sign Manziel hasn’t.

Johnny Manziel's CFL hopes still in limbo as Tiger-Cats take their time

Johnny Manziel’s workouts caused a major stir inside the Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization. His agent’s recent proclamation of a Jan. 31 deadline for the Canadian Football League franchise to sign Manziel hasn’t.

The firstJohnny Manziel-Saints bomb dropped at 10:32 a.m. ET. Secondary strikes came at 10:35 a.m. and 10:55 a.m., respectively.

But by the time NFL Network insider Ian Rapoporthit send on his third Manziel-relatedtweet Thursday morning, Twitter already had been blown up by the idea of the troubled quarterback playing in New Orleans.

The report, viathose three tweets:

"Saints coach Sean Payton & Johnny Manziel were spotted together Super Bowl week, at breakfast. They discussed a return to football." ... "Manziel has kept a low-profile as he trains for a return. Payton appears to have taken an interest in him." ... "The Saints still need a backup QB. Payton could make the most of Manziel’s talent. Drew Brees would be a perfect mentor. A lot makes sense."

A lot also does not make sense.

MORE: "Real" NFL interest for Manziel

Manziel, 24, is making an NFL comeback attempt after his brief career was derailed by off-field issues that includedalcohol abuse. So the initial reaction to Rapoport's report came as no surprise.

The man whose party-animal reputation precedes him might try to revive his football career in ... New Orleans?Where bars and strip clubs in the city'sFrench Quarter are broken up only by the occasional gift shop or restaurant?

The nextquestion: How does Manziel, who hasn't played since the 2015 season and has a career QB rating of 74.4, receiveinterest over Colin Kaepernick, who has 56more NFL starts including playoffs and a career QB rating of88.9?

That question was answered on this site long before Thursday's report. And, to help answer it, keep in mind howDrew Brees felt about Kaepernick's national anthem protest during the 2016 season. It's part of the reason the Saints were not included on SN's list of teams that might still sign Kaepernick in free agency.

MORE: Kaepernick'sbest fits in free agency

The MMQB'sAlbert Breerthis week explained another reason why teams are not interested in Kaepernick. His reasoning centered around "how he fits" as a backup quarterback.

"This is where I, and some teams, believe a comparison to Tim Tebow is valid," Breer wrote. "And that’s for two reasons.

"First, most teams want their backup quarterbacks to fit the scheme their starter runs, and to get the most out of Kaepernick you need a system apart from NFL convention. That, as much as anything, is about doing right by the other 10 guys in the huddle if your starter misses significant time. Remember, those guys were also acquired and coached to run the scheme the starter is running, so turning everything upside down for the backup quarterback doesn’t often make sense.

"Second, teams are willing to take on guys who bring distractions with them, but they have to break a “worth it” threshold. In other words, if your fourth or fifth best player brings a media circus with him and forces other players to answer questions about him, then fine. The equation is different if we’re talking about the 35th or 40th guy on the roster."

Sure, makes sense. But "Kaepernick" in that passage could be replaced by "Manziel" and still apply.

The Saints last season ranked second in pass attempts, first in passing yards, first in passing yards per game andfifth in passing yards per attempt.

Are we supposed to believe Manziel, who has completed just 147 NFL passesand has a career yards per attempt average of 6.5, can run the same offense Brees has mastered after 11 years in New Orleans? Would replacing Brees with Manziel be "doing right by the other 10 guys in the huddle?"

Brees in those 11 seasons has an average of 7.7 yards per attempt. The Saints love to throw the ball downfield.

Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy while at Texas A&M primarily due to his dazzling, scrambling style of play, has never proven himself capable of throwing the ball downfieldwith consistency and accuracy, save for a few Mike Evans jump balls in college.

MORE: Manziel's antics, chronicled

One aspect of the Manziel interest does makesense, just like it did last year:He'd be cheap.

EJ Manuel, somewhat of a draft bust himself, just signed a one-yeardeal with the Raiders for $800,000 and nothing guaranteed. Regardless of whatever playing ability Manziel still has, he likely would have to accept a deal for even less, especially considering the off-field concerns and, yep, "distractions" he would present his new team. Manzielalso would be cheaper than 35-year-old Saints backup QB Luke McCown, who carries a cap hit of $1.75 million in 2017.

Though the cost necessary to signKaepernick orJay Cutler as a backup remains unclear, we know bothcan demand more than Manziel can, given hisfar inferior NFL standing.

Of course, there's no need to freak out over a reported breakfast meeting. That'sall we know about the Saints' apparentinterest, and it's not much.

And while it's not fair to pessimistically presume Manziel would revert to his self-damaging habitsin New Orleans, it is fair to doubt his ability to play not only in the NFL, but in an offense so reliant on its quarterback's ability.

Maybe Kaepernick and Cutler need to check out the brunch spots in The Big Easy.

What to read next