At some point soon, the New England Patriots will have to start thinking about who is going to replace Tom Brady.
Why not Johnny Manziel?
Sure, such a notion will make more than a few people uneasy, but retired NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson thinks it might work if it happened. The Patriots currently have Brian Hoyer backing up Brady, but he almost certainly isn’t what they have in mind for a long-term option.
It makes sense for New England to draft a quarterback in 2018 — which features a deep class of signal-callers — but it also might want to consider other options. That’s where Manziel, who is serious about making an NFL comeback, comes in.
Burleson addressed Friday on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” how the scenario could work.
“Johnny can go there for a reason that not a lot of people really realize. He’s not going to beat out Tom Brady, we all know that. I don’t think there’s any quarterback that can beat out Tom Brady as a free agent coming to the Pats,” Burleson said. “But there’s a competition that he would be confident in going into, and that’s the second-string position, which is my guy Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer (and) Johnny Manziel both played together (with the Cleveland Browns), so that second-string competition will be as high as ever, and it also would be like a memory for both of them and the best man will prevail.
“If Johnny goes there though, this will be the most athletic quarterback the Pats have had since Tom Brady has taken over.”
Manziel’s NFL career was beleaguered, to say the least, ending in a blaze of glory with a bender in Las Vegas the night before a game. So while there is some demonstrated history of skill and athleticism that would intrigue teams, it would take a total revamp of the 25-year-old’s previous mindset in order for it to work.
That’s not lost on Burleson.
“One thing we do need to figure out before anybody puts on a Patriots uniform is: How much are you invested intellectually, and how much do you love the game emotionally? Because we’ve seen guys go there that are halfway in love with the game. And when they’re halfway in love with the idea of being a Patriot, it doesn’t really work out.
“The prime example is that one of the best athletes, best wide receivers I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes is Chad Johnson. And he got there, and I remember him talking and it was almost like he was drowning. He said, ‘It’s just the deep end, I can’t get my hands on this playbook and wrap my mind around it,’ and it just didn’t work out.”
The Patriots tested the waters with Tim Tebow in 2013, another skilled quarterback whose NFL career never really took off. Not only was he cut before the regular season started, but he was a totally different animal personality-wise than Johnny Football.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports Images.
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