Odds on Johnny Manziel’s #ComebackSZN

Manziel throwing a pass for the Aggies.
How far will Johnny Manziel's #COmebackSZN go? Photo by Shutterbug459 (Wiki) [CC License]
  • Manziel threw at the University of San Diego’s Pro Day
  • Will the former 22nd-overall pick find his way back into the NFL in 2018?

Updated March 22

We are still 16 days away from seeing Johnny Manziel’s Spring League debut, but the former Heisman winner found a way to provide us with a glimpse into the progress of #ComebackSZN.

Manziel had been training with a pair of wide receivers from the University of San Diego over the past few weeks, and the college prospects asked the former first-round pick if he’d throw for them at their Pro Day. The result was a win for both sides.

There were reportedly 14 teams who sent scouts to watch Manziel throw: Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans.

In light of how sharp Johnny Football looked throwing the football, and the recent QB movement in free agency, we’ve updated our odds on Manziel’s comeback.

Odds Johnny Manziel signs with an NFL team in 2018: 2/3

It’s a very encouraging sign that at least 14 teams are interested enough in Manziel to venture over to the University of San Diego’s Pro Day in the rain. You can bet there’ll be even more attention when he takes the field in pads on April 7th.

Odds to sign Johnny Manziel in 2018

Team Odds
Jacksonville Jaguars 9/1
Denver Broncos 10/1
Arizona Cardinals 12/1
Los Angeles Chargers 14/1
New England Patriots 14/1
New York Giants 14/1
Oakland Raiders 16/1
FIELD 13/1

The Jaguars simply cannot begin their Super Bowl 53 push with Blake Bortles as the only viable option at QB. If Jacksonville did not have to scheme to hide their signal-caller last season, I’d argue they would have been playing the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52.

The Denver Broncos odds to sign Manziel got a lot shorter when they missed out on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. It also looks like all of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen will be off the board before Denver picks at five. John Elway has to know his defense’s window of dominance has already began closing. Finding a pivot who can at least return the offense to respectability and try to contend now is a must.

Tom Brady will be 41 years old in August and his heir apparent, Jimmy Garoppolo, is in San Francisco

All of the Cardinals, Chargers, Patriots, Giants, and Raiders currently have quality starting quarterbacks in place – the Cardinals and Giants may be up for debate – but very little to get excited about behind their starters on the depth chart, which is very concerning for some.

Arizona is relying on Sam Bradford, who has not played a full season since 2012; Philip Rivers will be 37 years old in December and his backup is Kellen Clemens; Tom Brady will be 41 years old in August and his heir apparent, Jimmy Garoppolo, is in San Francisco; Eli Manning will be 38 in January, and it’s unknown whether the Giants will use that second-overall pick on a QB in the draft; and the Raiders new head coach, Jon Gruden, may not be sold on Derek Carr’s ability to lead his squad.

There are too many QB-needy teams for Johnny Manziel not to receive a second (or is it third?) chance.



February 16, 2018


  • Manziel has signed a contract to play in The Spring League.
  • Will #ComebackSZN reach its ultimate goal of the NFL?
  • Which teams would consider signing Manziel?

Since Michael Jordan’s infamous “I’m back” fax, no athlete’s comeback bid has received this much hype. It’s so big it even has its own damn hashtag! And on Wednesday, #ComebackSZN became about more than just selling clothing, as The Spring League announced that Manziel has signed a deal to play in the Elite Developmental League.

It’s fitting the former Aggie will be returning to Austin, Texas where it all began for the storied pivot. Manziel will play two games with the league, scheduled for April 7 and April 14. While not everyone is taking #ComebackSZN seriously, it has caught the eye of one online sportsbook. Bovada released odds today on whether Manziel will find himself on an NFL roster come Week 1 of the 2018 season. That got us thinking, which team would be willing to sign the former 22nd-overall pick?

Odds to Sign Manziel in 2018

You cannot yet find odds for the most likely candidates to give #ComebackSZN its next leap forward, but here’s who we believe is likely to take an interest in Manziel:

Team Odds
Arizona Cardinals 9/1
Jacksonville Jaguars 9/1
New York Jets 12/1
Denver Broncos 30/1
Cleveland Browns 99/1
FIELD 21/4

Arizona Cardinals

Due to salary cap constraints, the Arizona Cardinals are going to have a tough time winning the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, likely leaving them to opt for a cheaper free agent option or a rookie. Unfortunately, Arizona doesn’t pick until 15th-overall, which seems to be far too late to get their hands on one of Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, or Baker Mayfield.

If Arizona’s options under center in 2018 are AJ McCarron or Johnny Manziel, I prefer the latter.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Thanks to the wrist surgery Blake Bortles underwent following the AFC Championship game, the pivot is unlikely to pass a physical by March 14 – the start of the new league year. This means his fifth-year option becomes fully guaranteed, and the Jaguars will only have about $23.5 million of cap space entering the offseason.

[Jacksonville] cannot afford to waste another season trying to hide the player they have at the sport’s most valuable position. Manziel may not be the answer, either. But why not find out?

Although Bortles showed some improvement this season, Jacksonville’s championship window is now. They cannot afford to waste another season trying to hide the player they have at the sport’s most valuable position. Manziel may not be the answer, either. But why not find out?

New York Jets

The Christian Hackenberg project needs to come to an end. What stands in Manziel’s way of winding up in New York is the fifth-overall pick the Jets hold in the upcoming draft. It’s a near certainty they’ll be selecting a QB, and they may not want an extra distraction in the room for the future of their franchise.

Denver Broncos

It’s looking like the Broncos have the inside track on Kirk Cousins in free agency. And even if John Elway feels he’s losing the Cousins sweepstakes, he’s much more likely to turn his attention to AJ McCarron than someone who has been out of the league for two seasons.

Cleveland Browns

The chances of the Browns wanting Manziel back are slim to none. And “Billy Football” may have ingested the slim in a shot of Jack back in 2015.

Will #ComebackSZN Reach the NFL?

Here’s what Bovada has to say on the matter:

Will Manziel be on an NFL roster Week 1 of 2018 Reg Season? Odds
Yes +200
No -300

There’s no doubt there will be more than just loyal A&M fans watching him in April.

Why Manziel Will be on an NFL Roster Week 1

  1. There are plenty of teams who need a QB
  2. Manziel has shown elite talent
  3. He’s still only 25 years old
  4. The NFL is a league of second-chances, when the player is good enough

The Jets, Browns (not that I expect them to take him back), Jaguars, Broncos, and Cardinals are all desperate for a QB. What harm is there in giving Manziel, a former Heisman Trophy winner, a shot at a fairly cheap rate? And the Bengals, among others, could even use a backup with AJ McCarron being cast into unrestricted free agency.

Yeah, Manziel has caused a lot of headaches in the league. But Greg Hardy was still given a contract after being found guilty on two accounts of domestic violence. Reuben Foster is still a 49er after being arrested twice in the last month. It’s an awful lesson for the kids, but the NFL has set a precedent that talent and marketing ability (jersey and ticket sales etc.) grant you a second, and sometimes third, chance.

Why Manziel Won’t be on an NFL Roster Week 1

  1. Manziel is still only 6-feet tall
  2. He wasn’t able to prove he could consistently make NFL-caliber throws in his eight starts
  3. The last snap he took was on December 27, 2015
  4. There are believed to be four premier QB prospects entering the league in the 2018 NFL Draft

The biggest knock on Manziel coming out of college wasn’t his party-boy status, rather his height and whether his athleticism would still standout against better athletes in the NFL. Standing at just 6-feet tall, many teams have doubts whether he can consistently beat a defense from the pocket. And the incredible athleticism outside of the pocket he showed in college didn’t always show in his two professional seasons.

It’s awfully difficult to imagine [Manziel] picking up where he left off in the NFL – which wasn’t a great spot, either.

Piling onto the doubt, Manziel has been out of the league for two full seasons now. It’s awfully difficult to imagine him picking up where he left off in the NFL – which wasn’t a great spot, either.