The Johnny Manziel saga has taken an unusual twist with multiple CFL teams interested in securing exclusive negotiating rights to the former Heisman Trophy winner.
According to a source, Manziel's representatives told the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sept. 2 they wanted a contract offer from the CFL club. Manziel has been on the Ticats' 45-man negotiation list since his college days at Texas A&M.
So in accordance with CFL rules, the Ticats then had 10 days — until last Tuesday to be exact — to make a contract offer, trade Manziel's CFL rights or simply stand pat, which would've resulted in Manziel automatically coming off Hamilton's list. But the source said the situation has been complicated by the fact multiple teams have expressed interest in acquiring Manziel's rights.
That prompted a request for an extension until Sunday, which was granted. The CFL wasn't immediately available for comment but a second source said one reason for the extension was to put in place a process for Manziel and future players who've faced allegations of violence against women in the past.
The league has said Manziel would have to undergo an assessment with a domestic violence prevention official and meet with commissioner Randy Ambrosie, who'd then decide whether to approve the contract. In January 2016, Manziel was charged after being accused of hitting and threatening a former girlfriend before reaching an agreement with prosecutors to dismiss the case.
Erik Burkhardt, Manziel's agent, didn't immediately return telephone and email messages Thursday. Also, the Ticats didn't make Kent Austin, their vice-president of football operations, available to discuss the Manziel situation.
The Ticats (2-8) chase a third straight win Friday night when they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-5) and Hamilton head coach June Jones said that's where his priority lies.
"I'm not really worried about guys that aren't here," he said. "We're worried about this game, that's all I'm thinking about and don't really know what all the ifs might be."
On Tuesday night, word surfaced that Manziel's camp had informed the Ticats about wanting a contract offer to thus open the 10-day window. However, there was never an indication when this had actually taken place.
It's unclear which teams are interested in Manziel but any club acquiring him would have an additional 10 days after the consummation of the deal to make him a contract offer. If an offer was made and Manziel turned it down, he'd remain on the franchise's negotiation list for up to a year from the date of rejection.
A team could initially present Manziel a two-year deal — one year plus an option — for the league minimum of $53,000 annually knowing it'd be turned down. But it would be with the understanding two sides would have up to a year to work out a more suitable agreement while ensuring Manziel doesn't step on to a CFL field with another franchise.
Hamilton put the five-foot-11, 210-pound Manziel through a series of medical and physical tests Aug. 23-24 in Buffalo. N.Y. before team coaches and front-office personnel. Austin confirmed the testing Aug. 30 but said at the time the club wasn't interested in signing the former Texas A&M star.
Manziel captured the 2012 Heisman Trophy as U.S. college football's top player, becoming the first freshman ever to win the award. The Cleveland Browns took Manziel — affectionately dubbed Johnny Football — in the first round, No. 22 overall in the 2014 NFL draft.
But following two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released Manziel in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as a starter.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press