The Browns released a statement from new director of football operations Sashi Brown on Tuesday that expressed disappointment in Manziel but stopped short of saying the quarterback's run in Cleveland is over.
"We've been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field. Johnny's continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization," Brown said. "His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time."
The reference to league rules points to the fact that the Browns do not have the salary cap space to release Manziel on Feb. 8, the day after the Super Bowl and the first day they can do so. The move will take place when the new NFL year starts March 9, according to the source. Releasing Manziel in February would count $4.6 million against the cap, and due to the cap's machinations, the Browns do not have that space -- and will not have it in February. The cap will increase in March, which will allow them to release Manziel then.
The Browns can also try to trade him when the league year begins, but likely will encounter difficulty doing so because of his off-field issues.
Manziel's two seasons in Cleveland were turbulent, as off-field issues overshadowed his on-field performances.
Manziel famously promised that he and the Browns would "wreck this league" on draft night in 2014, but Manziel never came close to realizing the promise he showed in college.
The Heisman Trophy winner started eight games for the Browns, and he appeared in 15. He completed 57 percent of his passes, threw 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and had a 74.4 rating with a 2-6 record as a starter.
A career that started with immeasurable excitement at the Browns trading up to draft Manziel ended with fans and the team ready to move on. Manziel is likely to rank as one of the Browns' biggest draft disappointments.
Manziel had a rocky rookie season that ended with him missing the final walkthrough after he was out late the night before the team flew to Baltimore. Manziel checked into rehab and treatment for undisclosed reasons shortly after the season and spent 10 weeks at Caron Treatment Center outside Reading, Pennsylvania.
He returned promising to tamp down the hype and keep himself off social media and out of the news. He did so until mid-October, when police in Avon, Ohio, questioned him after his then-girlfriend said he had hit her while driving in a car.
That led to a spiral of appearances on social media that troubled the team -- and briefly cost him a starting job.
Manziel returned for three of the final four games when Josh McCown broke his collarbone, but the week before the finale showed up late to a Wednesday team meeting looking disheveled. The team got him out of the meeting room, then announced he was in the concussion protocol.
USA Today then reported Manziel was in Las Vegas the weekend of the Browns' finale. He missed a scheduled treatment for his concussion the morning of the finale.
More social media appearances in clubs followed, and last weekend police were called for an alleged assault in Fort Worth, Texas. Dallas and Fort Worth police are investigating, as is the league.
Manziel's future is cloudy, as a team would have to sign him knowing he has to get his off-field life together while also improving as a player.
Johnny Football leaves Cleveland with his reputation and image deflated.
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