Perhaps we should have seen this coming. On July 22nd, after he had spent the first 6 weeks of the 2018 CFL season in Hamilton on the bench, the Ti-Cats traded Johnny Manziel to the Montreal Alouettes as part of a package deal.
In that deal, the Ti-cats got defensive end Jamaal Westerman and wide receiver Chris Williams as well as two first-round draft selections (2020, 2021) from the Alouettes in exchange for Manziel, and two offensive lineman, – Tony Washington and Landon Rice.
Current Montreal Head Coach Mike Sherman is probably happy to bring in Manziel. He is after all the man who recruited Manziel to Texas A&M and duly saw him go on to become the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy and put together some heady numbers as an Aggie. Manziel completed 595 of 863 passes (68.9%) for 7,820 yards with 63 TD’s and only 22 interceptions in 2 years after being recruited. Sherman would dearly love for him to rediscover even some of that level of productivity.
Manziel, who seems to have been an ongoing story in football for years is still only 25 and clearly Montreal feel he still has plenty to offer. The fact that Als took him suggests that Montreal are investing for Manziel to start. He may not open up against Edmonton in the Thursday night game, but this deal suggests he will be playing at QB for the Als quickly and starting sooner rather than later. No pressure, but the Als twitter feed has already invited people to come and see his “very first game at McGill stadium”!
Manziel has handled himself well in the CFL so far. He has said and done the right things at the right times. Doubtless he would love the opportunity to start but he wasn’t engineering a controversy in Hamilton. The loudest voices there were coming from the stands. It will be interesting to see how he goes in Montreal though. Now we all know he’s going to get some playing time in competitive games you can expect the attention and expectation levels to ramp up massively.
On the other side of the coin, this is a vote of confidence in Hamilton’s incumbent starter Jeremiah Masoli. The Ti-Cats erstwhile starter was coming off a performance where he had failed to throw a touchdown for his second straight game and you could see the questions bubbling up amongst some Hamilton fans. Now those questions can no longer be posed. Masoli is clearly the man in Hamilton.
Some Hamilton fans may be frustrated. There was a vocal section that wanted Johnny Football throwing the ball for their team. I think the Ti-cats got good value in this trade with players that can help straight away as well as 2 first round picks that could be important for the future. As ever with a trade we won’t know who ‘won’ it until we are a little way down the road.
The Ti-Cats organisation are offering $100 gift cards for the team store for anybody that bought a Manziel Ti-cats jersey. It will hurt for those who were really invested in the idea of him on their team but it’s a nice gesture. You have to wonder too in years to come will those shirts have some historical value?
The whole thing is summed up well in an interview on the 3downnation site with the Ti-Cats GM Eric Tillman, particularity when he concludes, “We feel this trade makes us better. But we also felt that Johnny deserved an opportunity to be a starting quarterback in this league. In that way, we view it as a win-win.” ( https://3downnation.com/2018/07/22/qa-ticats-gm-eric-tillman-johnny-manziel-deal/ )
Both teams involved in this trade would love for that assessment to be right. As ever there is only one place we’ll get all of the answers – on the field, and as ever it’s going to be a lot of fun watching it all unfold.
Image originally from cfl.ca