The Saints reportedly are interested in bringingquarterback Johnny Manziel back to the NFL, fresh offcoach Sean Payton reportedly having a breakfast meeting last month with theBrowns' 2014 first-round pick.
Payton's interest might seem shocking, asManziel is just picking up the pieces from the off-field woes that caused him to crash and burn so quickly in Cleveland. But when asked about Manziel before that '14 draft at the annual league meeting three years ago,Payton explained exactly why a team like New Orleans would be intrigued by the QBcoming out of Texas A&M.
"No. 1, he's a winner — you can see that. He's elevated the hopes of that program," Payton said, via a video interview forthe Saints' official website."He gets rid of the ball very quickly. He can get rid of the ball in some unique throwing positions we haven't seen in a long time.
"Running to the left and turning — certainly some of those throws are going to be challenging at our level. But I think he's a winner and an exciting player."
The one easy comparison that can be made between Manziel and the Saints' current starter,future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, issize. Manziel is listed at 6-0, 210 pounds,the sameheight and one pound heavier than Brees.
Brees is known for his quick release and terrific footwork thatbuys himtime to make accurate, downfield throws out of thepocket. The biggestknock on Manziel on the field ishe's too dependent on scrambling outside of the pocket to execute big plays, either passing or running. Another knockwas questionable arm strength — something Brees has been able to improve over the course of his career.
Since Payton has been able to workwith Brees to operateone of the NFL'smost dangerous passing offenses for a decade, there's no doubt he sees Manziel as a dirt-cheap potential pet project. Back in 2014, Paytondid, however,overestimate the potential of Manziel working well with his first pro team.
"He specifically will be someone that there will be a vision for, someone offensively as an organization will understand what they're getting and be happy about it."
Although Manziel contributed greatly to his own failure in Cleveland, the team also lacked any true vision in tailoring an offense to his abilities, much like Payton has done exceptionally with Brees.
It's also interesting to note that the Saints could have drafted a sliding Manziel to groom behind Brees. They instead took wide receiver Brandin Cooks with the No. 20 overall pick, two picks before Manziel went to theBrowns at No 22.Cooks was traded to New England this offseason, giving the Saints a second first-rounder in 2017.
This time around, they can get Manziel with little cost and very low risk. At the very best, he finds himself in football againand gets developed as Brees' successor. At worst, the Saints dump him as a fourth-stringer.
Offensive-minded coaches with successful quarterbacks, such as Payton, are always thinking quarterbacks — which is why they're so good at their jobs. His totally ignoring what Manziel might be able do for him would have been the bigger shocker.