Michael Irvin wants his former team to sign Johnny Manziel as a free agent and use the fourth pick on a player other than a quarterback.
“I believe he can become a very good NFL player,” Irvin said of Manziel. “It would be smart of the Cowboys to take a backup quarterback like that and use that fourth pick on somebody that can help them right now instead of somebody that may play four years from now.”
The Browns are expected to release the former Texas A&M quarterback when the new league year begins March 9. They put out a strong statement saying as much Tuesday.
Manziel, 23, has made more headlines off the field than on it in the two years since the Browns drafted him 22nd overall. The latest incident occurred early Saturday when Fort Worth Police investigated an altercation between Manziel and an ex-girlfriend earlier in the evening.
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Irvin’s comments came before details from the Fort Worth police report were released late Thursday afternoon. Manziel’s ex-girlfriend told police he repeatedly struck her after a fight that began in Dallas.
Manziel has been spotted all over Dallas-Fort Worth the past couple of weeks, including at the Mavericks-Heat game Wednesday night. His parents recently moved to Fort Worth.
Irvin, now an analyst for the NFL Network, said the Cowboys would be the perfect place for Manziel to rehab his career. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has never been reluctant to take on troubled or controversial players, including Dimitrius Underwood, Tank Johnson, Adam Jones, Josh Brent, Alonzo Spellman, Charles Haley and most recently Greg Hardy.
Jones stuck by Irvin during the receiver’s legal troubles as a player with the Cowboys.
“I just think when we start talking about bringing the man out of a boy or bringing a man out of kid, what does that is great support, and you guys know how Jerry is,” Irvin said. “He’s one of the guys that I will say that one of the issues people find with him is he’s loyal to a fault and …someone [who] cares for you as a person – for your person. Everybody’s been talking to Johnny. They talk about Johnny. They talk about his actions and his profession. Jerry is going to help him work with his person, and that will bring the best out in his profession. That’s where the work needs [to happen], and when you know you’ve got somebody up top that’s pulling for you, it just gives you a different feeling. I really believe that.
“I know how Jerry has helped me. I know the kind of man he is. I know he’ll sit down and relate the situations and the setbacks that he’s had in life, so you don’t feel funny about telling him, or uncomfortable about telling him anything. It helps to have that, because he becomes a sounding board. I just really believe the right situation will help the kid out.”
Jones has maintained an infatuation with Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2012. He wanted to draft Manziel with the 16th overall pick in 2014 but was talked out of it by others in the organization, and the Cowboys selected guard Zack Martin.
The Cowboys currently are searching for a backup quarterback they can win with. Three backups went 1-11 as starters this season when Tony Romo twice fractured his left collarbone.
Irvin believes Manziel can do just that despite a 2-6 record as a starter with a 57 percent completion percentage, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 74.4 passer rating.
“We all saw the growth from his first year to his second year just watching this kid play,” Irvin said. “There was tremendous growth there, tremendous growth, so asking if he can become [a legitimate NFL starter] absolutely if he continues that path of growth. I do believe, though, let’s be real here. We put a lot of pressure on a lot of kids. I’ve got an 18-year-old kid right now that I’m doing everything in the world to keep him on the straight and narrow. This guy won a Heisman at 18, 19, 20 years old, whatever he was, and everybody thinks because you can throw the ball, and you win the hardware, that you have to be a role model and that you must be mature. That’s not the situation. The two don’t always comingle. So I’m hoping he gets an opportunity, and he gets undergird with some good people and some people that have been around people who have had issues and can understand how to bring him along.”