Mac Engel

Jerry Jones would be wise to bring Johnny Manziel to Cowboys

Johnny Manziel was benched Sunday because of off-the-field behavior.
Johnny Manziel was benched Sunday because of off-the-field behavior. AP

Now that we know Tony Romo is going to be the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback for the next four or five years, Jerry Jones says the team still needs to groom somebody to be the heir, and there is a growing possibility the man he wanted all along might just be available.

Johnny, come to Papa.

Johnny Manziel may yet play himself out of Cleveland. No team loves granting second chances more than America’s Team, and both the Cowboys and Manziel can find out if there is a future in the NFL for the unofficial Mayor of Austin.

One Cowboys’ personnel person told me Wednesday, “A lot has to happen, but don’t rule this out.”

Veteran NFL analyst Vivian joins the Mac Attack to scout the remainder of the Dallas Cowboys season (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

On Tuesday morning during Jerry Jones’ weekly radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM, I deliberately did not ask him about Johnny Manziel to avoid any hint of tampering. Jerry brought up Johnny’s name on his own; he did so as a point of reference to the 2014 NFL Draft when he admitted he was the only man in the Cowboys’ war room that wanted Mr. Football.

Jerry’s choice was trumped in favor of guard Zack Martin, who was an All-Pro as a rookie. Manziel fell to 22nd where he was selected by the Cleveland Browns, and has been an embarrassment to the city of Cleveland, which is no easy feat.

7 Games Johnny Manziel has played in this season for the Cleveland Browns, including three starts

Manziel would fit all of the necessary elements for a Cowboy: He’s a second chance, he’s young, he’s a name and he might well be available on the cheap. Nobody loves a bargain QB more than Jerry.

Chad Hutchinson and Drew Henson were acquired for little in exchange for seeing what they could do, which was not too much. Quincy Carter was a second-round pick, Stephen McGee was a fourth-rounder, and Romo was undrafted.

With the Cowboys committed to Romo until the end of days, they still need to find somebody to play behind him that they can develop. That was the plan with Brandon Weeden, only he didn’t develop, and now he is the backup for the Houston Texans.

There are no such thoughts of developing current starter Matt Cassel, 33, beyond what he is; it’s doubtful he will even be with the team after this season ends. If Kellen Moore plays, it will be only because of injury, or just as a blind guess to see if the kid has anything.

The Cowboys want a younger guy they can groom, and nobody loves to find a quarterback on the cheap more than Jerry. Few people in the NFL have expressed their devotion to Johnny more than Jerry.

Can you imagine the star power of Johnny Football being good as a Dallas Cowboy?

The Browns have five games remaining to decide what they want to do with their problem child. Since he left College Station/Austin to enter the pros, Manziel has been a party-animal wreck off the field, but he showed just enough on the field in November to merit one last consideration.

Johnny Manziel has completed 76 of 128 passes for 933 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions this season. He has been sacked 14 times and has fumbled five times, losing three.

In starts against the Bengals and Steelers in early November, Johnny completed more than 50 percent of his passes for 540 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The Browns were blown out in both games, but Johnny looked like an NFL quarterback.

Then he looked like a drunk college kid again when he was caught partying in Austin during the Browns’ bye week; he tried to lie about it to his employers, and was demoted to third string.

Remember, Johnny spent part of his spring in rehab, and this is coming off a rookie season where he reportedly acted like playing for the Browns in the NFL was not too much different than playing at Texas A&M against Rice.

Manziel is currently listed second on the depth chart in Cleveland behind Austin Davis, an undrafted guy who has played in 10 NFL games in four seasons. As much as Browns coach Mike Pettine might want to discipline Mr. Football for his latest bout of stupidity, they have to see Johnny again.

Pettine said Wednesday that the quarterback situation for his team is “a weekly thing,” but he did indicate that he will likely start Johnny at least once in the final month of what is another Browns’ lost regular season. The question is when, and for how long.

The Cowboys’ selecting Manziel in the first round in 2014 would have been a waste. To take him in ’16 when the risk is minimal is worth a shot.

There is a good chance the Browns will have the top pick in the draft, and they have to know whether they need to select a QB. If Manziel plays poorly, or does more to bolster his image as a TMZ star, he’s gone.

All Jerry needs to do is make the Browns an offer, which might just need to be a pair of tickets to a preseason Cowboys’ game, and Manziel will be his; a fifth-round draft pick feels just about right in exchange for Manziel.

The Cowboys’ selecting Manziel in the first round in 2014 would have been a waste. To take him in ’16 when the risk is minimal is worth a shot.

What can it hurt? After all, Romo is the Cowboys’ QB for the next four or five years.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

While visiting with patients and their families at Cook Children's Medical Center, Cowboys TE Jason Witten shared a few thoughts about his friend Tony Romo. (video by Clarence E. Hill Jr.)

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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