<
>

Johnny Manziel won't play in CFL this season, but eligible in 2018 if criteria met

The Canadian Football League has denied quarterback Johnny Manziel's bid to play in 2017 but has left open the possibility for revisiting the matter next season, the league confirmed Wednesday.

Manziel will be eligible in 2018, according to the statement, if he "meets certain conditions that have been spelled out" by commissioner Randy Ambrosie. The CFL did not reveal details of those requirements but said it conducted an "extensive process of due diligence," including an in-person meeting between Manziel and Ambrosie.

Manziel, 24, has not played since the Cleveland Browns released him in March 2016. He said in a statement that he is ready to play but that joining a CFL team at the end of its season would not have been ideal. The CFL is currently in Week 15 of a 20-week regular season.

"I want to come into a team and earn my job day one, like everyone else. I look forward to preparing myself as best I can and look forward to what the future holds."

Johnny Manziel

In his statement, Manziel said: "I recently had a really positive meeting with Commissioner Ambrosie and welcomed the chance for us to get to know each other and have an in-depth talk about a possible future with the CFL.

"I love this game and want to be back on the field in a situation where I can help a franchise in the long term. Over the past months, my agent helped me vet all of my options for playing, figuring out where I could be most effective and get back to having the most fun with the game I love. I'm ready to play today, but we all agreed with the Commissioner that it made no sense for me to join a team with only a month left in the season -- it wouldn't have been fair to my teammates, coaches or the fan base.

"I want to come into a team and earn my job day one, like everyone else. I look forward to preparing myself as best I can and look forward to what the future holds."

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have owned his CFL rights for several years, and he worked out for team officials in August. The Tiger-Cats decided not to sign him at the time, so Manziel triggered a process that opened a 10-day window for the team to either offer him a contract or relinquish his rights.

Ambrosie extended the window to investigate Manziel's candidacy before announcing his decision Wednesday. The window will close on Nov. 30, four days after the league's Grey Cup championship game.

As with all of the CFL's international players, Manziel would be required to make a two-year commitment if he signs with Hamilton or any other team. That means he wouldn't be eligible to return to the NFL until after the CFL's 2019 season is complete. Effectively, his earliest return date to U.S. football would come in 2020.

The NFL suspended Manziel or the first four games of the 2016 NFL season for violating its substance abuse policy. In December 2016, he received a conditional dismissal of a misdemeanor charge after being accused of hitting and threatening his then-girlfriend. After years of struggling with substance abuse, Manziel said in January that he was sober.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler contributed to this story.