Late last week, rumors began to surface about the New Orleans Saints potentially signing former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel after it was made known that Sean Payton spent time with the quarterback during Super Bowl weekend. According to sources, Manziel has been working out and preparing himself for a possible return to the NFL, and Payton has obviously shown interest. To most, Manziel is a project not worth the time to even consider, but if anyone can resurrect a player’s career, it’s Sean Payton.
Sean Payton has been very successful when it comes to quarterbacks who are under six feet tall; just look at Drew Brees, who has thrown for over 66,000 yards and 465 touchdowns in his career. It’s unreasonable to compare Brees’ superior skill set to that of Manziel’s, but it’s important to remember that Brees wasn’t always as successful as he is today.
During his tenure with the San Diego Chargers, Brees threw 80 touchdowns to 53 interceptions and struggled with injuries. Of course, his stint in California was much better than Manziel’s in Cleveland, but most thought he wouldn’t be a good quarterback in New Orleans. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, as Brees as flourished under Sean Payton’s passer-friendly offense and has become a top 10 quarterback in this league.
The offensive system one is in can make a difference, but the culture and environment of an organization is even more important. Cleveland is an organization that has been unsuccessful for decades, and over time that losing mentality permeates the locker room and creates an atmosphere that is difficult to succeed in.
Ownership does a poor job, and the front office fails to acquire talent suitable to help their team in. New Orleans, on the other hand, is an organization that has had their share of success over the past decade, but more importantly has a competent owner in Tom Benson and the management to run a tight ship.
Plug Manziel into a backup role in New Orleans, and not only does he finally have a good organization to play in, but he gets to learn from a future hall of fame player in Brees.
The rewards seem to outweigh the risks in terms of signing Manziel. At best, he’ll be a serviceable backup that you can get away with paying very little.
At worst, it doesn’t work and you move on. It’s really a win-win situation for the Saints, and if Sean Payton believes in Manziel, the fans, who have tremendous respect for Payton, should trust the process as well.
As long as “Johnny Football” stays away from Bourbon Street, he’ll have chance to rekindle his career and image.