By every measure, Johnny Manziel has been a bust as an NFL quarterback. The former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns played just two games over 2014 and 2015 before a combination of off-field issues, bad choices and inconsistent play led to his release.
Now, however, the former Heisman Trophy winner is saying he’d like to get another shot at the NFL and some are pointing to Jon Gruden’s past complimentary remarks about Manziel as an indication the Raiders might give him a chance.
Gruden, the new head coach of the Raiders, is reported to have lobbied Oakland to draft Manziel back in 2014. Gruden had worked with Manziel and believed he had the ability to be a winning NFL quarterback.
"I really thought he has just an incredible playing style that would service him well," Gruden told a reporter in January. "I was really shocked by his downfall and demise from football, but hopefully he can come back and play somewhere someday, because I sure enjoyed being around him and watching him."
Of course, the Raiders have Derek Carr as their starting QB, taken in the second round of the 2014 draft, a round later than Manziel.
But Vic Tafur, who covers the Raiders for The Athletic, wrote Tuesday morning that it wouldn’t be out-of-bounds to think Gruden might have interest in bringing Manziel in to compete for a backup job, where Oakland has E.J. Manuel and Connor Cook.
Wrote Tafur: "Gruden gets fired up about everything, which is part of his charm, but he's always had a soft spot for Manziel, one of the most exciting players in college football history. A player who Gruden once said 'has a lot of magic to him.'"
In an interview on "Good Morning America" recently, Manziel said he’s taking medication to treat bipolar disorder and is working on a comeback.
"I don’t know what kind of comeback it will be," he said. "But I know I want to get back on a football field to what brought me so much joy in my life."