CFL bans Johnny Manziel after QB's release by Alouettes

The Montreal Alouettes have released quarterback Johnny Manziel. The team said in a news release it was told by the CFL to terminate Manziel's contract "after it was found that he had contravened the agreement which made him eligible to play in the league."

'He has been unable to abide by the terms of his agreement,' says GM Kavis Reed

The Johnny Manziel completed 2 of 3 passes for 13 yards and ran three times for 18 yards for the Memphis Express before getting injured. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

The Johnny Manziel experiment is over.

The CFL terminated the former Heisman Trophy winner's contract with the Montreal Alouettes on Wednesday. The league also informed the eight remaining clubs that it wouldn't register a contract for Manziel if any tried to sign him.

The league said Manziel had contravened an agreement that made the Texan eligible to play in the CFL.

"We advised Montreal that Johnny had violated one of the conditions we had set for him to be in our league. And Montreal announced his release today," CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Wednesday in Vancouver. "We didn't release the terms of those conditions then and we're not going to do that now.

"We're trying to do what we believe is in the best interests of the entire league. The conditions we set, we thought were the right ones. Those conditions have been violated and we feel it's best, and Montreal feels its best, to let Johnny move on. And we think it's best for our league that he do the same. And we wish him well."

If Manziel wants to continue playing football, one option could be Alliance of American Football, which kicked off its inaugural season earlier this month. And Manziel said he was intrigued by the prospect of playing in either the AAF or Xtreme Football League, which begins operation next year.

"It's great for football, it's great for the guys who need more opportunity, need more film and time to play," Manziel said on Barstool Sports Comeback SZN podcast. "I don't know exactly what my exact steps will be for the next years coming up, but at least there's a lot of options.

"Me and E.B. (agent Erik Burkhardt) are fully committed to playing ball and trying to get into the best situation possible and that's what it's all about."

In December 2017, Ambrosie announced the league would approve a contract for the former Cleveland Browns first-round pick, who at the time was on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats negotiation list. But Manziel had to fulfil certain requirements to join the league.

The league's due diligence included an assessment by an independent expert on domestic violence and a head-to-head meeting between Manziel and Ambrosie.

Exactly what conditions or requirements that were broken or violated weren't divulged. Manziel had sought treatment for anger management and alcohol abuse as part of his acquittal on a 2016 charge of domestic violence.

Manziel eventually ended up signing with Hamilton in May 2018 but was unable to get on to the field behind starter Jeremiah Masoli. The Ticats dealt Manziel and offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice in a blockbuster trade with Montreal on July 23 for receiver Chris Williams, defensive end Jamaal Westerman and two first-round draft picks (2020, '21).

WATCH | Manziel gets 1st win in CFL:

Manziel earns 1st CFL victory as Alouettes sink Argonauts


3 years ago
Johnny Manziel won his first CFL game as Montreal thumped Toronto 40-10, although the big play came on a flea-flicker touchdown pass from Eugene Lewis to George Johnson. 1:04

The move reunited Manziel with Als head coach Mike Sherman, who also recruited Johnny Football to Texas A&M. Acquired to be Montreal's No. 1 quarterback, the 26-year-old Texan was 2-6 as a starter, completing 106-of-165 passes (64.2 per cent) for 1,290 yards with five TDs and seven interceptions.

He also ran for 215 yards on 29 carries (7.41-yard average) as Montreal (5-13) finished third in the East Division but missed the CFL playoffs.

Alouettes GM Kavis Reed said he had no regrets acquiring Manziel.

"When we made the decision to make the trade for Mr. Manziel, we knew the risks that went with it," Reed told reporters in Montreal. "We took a chance, we took a risk, an educated risk and it didn't work out.

"That's the situation. We have a stable plan that will allow our football team to advance."

Manziel was due a $75,000 bonus March 1 and scheduled to earn a $202,000 base salary in 2019. Manziel's departure leaves Montreal with five quarterbacks on its roster (Vernon Adams Jr., Jeff Mathews, Antonio Pipkin, Matthew Shiltz and Canadian rookie Hugo Richard).

Reed feels Montreal has its '19 starter in that group. The Alouettes have struggled, both at quarterback and on the field generally, since Hall of Famer Anthony Calvillo — now a coach at the University of Montreal — retired after the 2013 season.

During Calvillo's tenure in Montreal (1998-13), the franchise appeared in eight Grey Cup games, winning three. Calvillo — the most prolific passer in pro football history — was instrumental in that success, being named a league all-star five times and capturing its outstanding player award on three occasions.

Montreal hasn't won the Grey Cup since 2010 and was last in the CFL playoffs in 2014.

'Pain of the process'

"Our fans have been long suffering for a stable quarterback situation and a stable team and a franchise committed to stability," Reed said. "You have to go through the pain of the process of getting there.

"This process took a while to be broken and get to a point where it was and it's going to take a while to get back to where we need to be."

Manziel's CFL action was his first in pro football since December 2015.

He captured the 2012 Heisman Trophy and was taken in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft by the Browns. But following two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released Manziel in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter.

Manziel appeared in just 14 games with Cleveland, completing 47-of-258 attempts (57.0 per cent) for 1,675 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 259 yards and a touchdown.

Manziel had been out of football until signing with Hamilton. Former Ticats head coach June Jones, who is now the team's offensive co-ordinator, once boldly gushed about Manziel's potential.

"I think he'd be the best player to ever play up here," Jones said. "He can throw it and he can run it like nobody ever has been able to do."