Is Johnny Manziel getting what he wants?
Two assumptions that are made before we go into answering this question:
1) The Browns and Manziel had a clear conversation, and agreement, about expectations during the bye week &
2) Manziel's mental health is stable enough that he is in control of his behaviors.
At this point, we all believe that #1 assumption is true. While we do not know the exact words used or the details of the expectations. Some reports say that Manziel promised to stay around the facility and keep a low profile as he prepared to start the rest of the season. Other reports are more vague, that Manziel promised not to go out or party, that he would act like a starting QB.
No matter the details, it is clear that Manziel violated his agreement as he was moved to 3rd string, a move that seems supported by the organization and veteran players.
The second assumption is not as clear. After being named the full time starting quarterback in the NFL, one of thirty-two jobs, Manziel went against an agreement with his employer. He then, like a high schooler caught by his parents (or like many clients I've worked with in my 13 years in the mental health field), asked his friends to lie about what he did. The concern about someone less than 6 months out of rehab using alcohol is also very real.
The second assumption might be a little less clear but we are going to go with it for now.
Given that, here are a few reasons why the answer to the question "Is Johnny Manziel getting what he wants?" might be yes:
We have all heard whispers that Manziel wants out of Cleveland. We have heard he wants to play his style of football. We have heard he wants a bigger stage. We have heard that he wants to be closer to family and friends.
We have heard a lot of things. Nothing but whispers but those whispers help to make sense of what happened during the Bye Week. Maybe Johnny does want out of Cleveland?
Manziel and the Browns seemed to have a clear understanding of what he would do during his time off on the Bye Week. A couple days later Manziel went out and did something to violate that understanding. The brashness of this decision(s) means Manziel A) Doesn't care, B) Can't control himself or C) Wants out of Cleveland.
If A and/or B are true, Manziel's future in the NFL is going to be short.
If C is true, the move is calculated. His head coach is conservative and made it clear what he expected of his starting QB. That starting QB made a decision that went against those expectations. Maybe Manziel is just trying to get what he wants.
One of the hopes that Cleveland fans had when Manziel was drafted was his relationship with LeBron James. LeBron, for all his warts, lived his private life correctly. He always said and did the right things, outside of "The Decision." He married his high school sweetheart, he does a ton of charity work with kids and has never been in trouble with police in anyway. LeBron was pictured in Money Manziel shirts and used social media to support him.
We haven't seen that relationship publicly lately and rumors are that the relationship has cooled. LeBron is a professional and surrounds himself with professionals. Disconnecting from Manziel fits LeBron's profile.
For Manziel, losing his big time supporter in Cleveland is another bite out of his connection to Cleveland.
Manziel wants a bigger stage. He wants to be adored. So when he hears the owner of the Dallas Cowboys say this
“Except if a great one, Roethlisberger or Manziel, falls,” Jones said, via Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository.
Strong words about a QB who has done little to prove he is even a starting QB. They were especially interesting since they came before Manziel's last start, one that gave fans hope that Manziel could become a starting level QB.
Hearing that the Cowboys owner still thinks of him as "great" may have perked Manziel's ears. Dallas would give him everything he wants. An owner who allows his players to do whatever they want (see: Hardy, Greg). A team that spotlights and highlights it's players and wants him. A chance to play in an area with a much better spotlight and that is closer to home might be just perfect for Johnny's wish list.
A Dallas reporter believes that Jones will pursue him this off-season if the Browns either cut or make him available in a trade:
And then, there's Johnny. If the Browns were to release Manziel or make him available via trade, I have a hard time believing Jerry Jones wouldn't have strong interest.
While that is easy speculation, it is not beyond belief that Manziel has thought the same thing, and likes the sound of it.
Browns Image Factor
If getting out of Cleveland is what Manziel wants, his behavior during the Bye Week makes sense. Yet, again if this was planned, Manziel would have to worry about how the rest of the NFL would see it. That is where the Browns' national image comes into play.
There are some, maybe even many, that look at the Browns organization as a joke. There are some that believe the Browns have gone too far in benching Manziel for his behavior during the Bye Week.
Manziel only needs one team to take a bet on him. It may be Jones but Manziel may be betting that other teams will look at the Browns' history and blame the team and not the player.
If Manziel wants out of Cleveland but still wants to perform in the NFL, the Browns' image plays in his favor.
If the Browns and Manziel had an understanding and Manziel is in control of his behaviors, it is quite possible that he worked things to try to get what he wants. While putting pieces together to try to figure out an incomplete puzzle is dangerous, it is a question we wanted to address: Is Johnny Manziel getting what he wants?
The next question, one that can't/won't be answered until the off-season, is whether the Browns will give in to his desires?