It was just another Tweet. Who could imagine that a little thing like that could lead to so much consternation and even terror among so many of the Dallas Cowboys faithful?
After what Mike Pettine said about Manziel today if you were the Cowboys would you offer them a 4th or 5th round pick for a trade?— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) February 18, 2015
Those of you who had not seen this already may need to take a moment, grab a paper bag, and get your hyperventilation (for whatever reason) under control. OK, all calm? We shall proceed.
If you are curious about what Broaddus is referring to, it was this:
Browns HC Mike Pettine says he’s approaching free agency, draft, as though Johnny Manziel is not the starting QB.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 18, 2015
The reaction from many, if not most, Cowboys fans were similar to that of our own Landon McCool.
Why anyone would want to give anything for JFF is so beyond me..— Landon (@McCoolBTB) February 19, 2015
Many of the initial responses to Broaddus' tweet treated it as a bad joke, but he made clear that he was completely serious. And Broaddus is not just some controversy seeker who throws out stupid ideas. He spends far more time dismissing what he sees as bad ideas. For any who are not familiar with his work (which is kind of hard to imagine if you spend much time here, because most of the FPW pay a lot of attention to what he says), he is a former scout who now writes and podcasts for the mothership (AKA DallasCowboys.com). He is a real insider at Valley Ranch, and he pointed out that the Cowboys had Manziel as a first-round talent on their board, although they wisely took Zack Martin instead of Johnny Football when their turn came last year in the first round of the draft.
And Broaddus was not the only opinion who seemed to think there was reason to at least consider this idea.
So just for a moment, indulge in a willing suspension of disbelief and consider the arguments for this admittedly way-out-of-the-box idea. (And yes, there is more than a little devil's advocate going on here.)
While it certainly is hard to argue that a first-round pick was far too much to invest in JFF, a fourth- or especially a fifth-round pick would be far more in line with what he has tuned out to be. He is certainly a project quarterback, and he was not at all ready to approach the game with the dedication and work it requires. However, Tony Romo is not going anywhere soon (we fervently hope), and Manziel looks like he could certainly benefit from sitting and learning with a good coaching staff and a role model like Romo - neither of which he seems to have had with the Cleveland Browns. It is of course a question whether his skill set will ever successfully translate to the NFL - but the same can be said about more than one player around the league who is the expected starting quarterback for their team, more by default than anything else. For a player who would be expected to be the third stringer at least at first, this is pretty much what you are trying to find out. And right now, the Cowboys do not have a firm plan of succession for the post-Romo era, which will come one day, no matter how much we may want it to be put off indefinitely. And if he could develop the vision and accuracy to succeed in the NFL . . .
This still leaves the whole heavy drinking, celebrity buddy, inflatable swan behavior that was such a problem in Cleveland. But he has sought help for his issues, by all reports completely of his own volition. And under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys have a very strong locker room. With people like Jason Witten, Travis Frederick, and Orlando Scandrick to lay down the law, he might just respond and put in the effort to turn himself into a success.
No, it is not a guarantee. And he does come with a first-round rookie price tag. But the Cowboys have long maintained that they can find the cap room to sign whoever they really want to. And would a fifth-round draft pick, or maybe a 2016 fourth-round pick, be a reasonable price for a chance to find out if he could be the quarterback of the future? Is he really a longer shot than Dustin Vaughn?
All of this supposes a lot of things that probably will not happen, starting with whether the Browns are even thinking about essentially writing off a player they spent a first-round pick on. But the question is whether the reflexive rejection of the idea by so many is correct. The job of the coaching and scouting staffs are to find the best answers for building the roster. Just to make one comparison, would Manziel turning his career around be any more unlikely than a player who had retired from the game twice because of his problems becoming one of the real impact players on the Cowboys defense? The Cowboys took a chance on Rolando McClain and it paid off. In that case, Garrett relied on feedback from Nick Saban. What if he got similar information from Manziel's college coaches? Would it be really wise to not at least consider the idea?
It is certainly a daring thought, and one that is almost certain to be discussed. This is the Cowboys, and this kind of story just seems to develop a life of its own when they are concerned.
One word of caution: We have standard of conduct here, so don't get too emotional or personal in your comments. While the idea may seem a joke to you, there are serious points involved here. No doubt many, if not most, will not want to see the team have anything to do with this idea. But however you feel, keep it respectful and clean.