CLEVELAND -- The last portion of Johnny Manziel's $4.3-million signing bonus -- roughly $860,000 -- was scheduled to be paid this past week. Much of it was paid up front. This was the last 20 percent or so.
The Browns have made an investment in Manziel, on and off the field. They’ve supported him through his time in treatment that will soon approach the two-month mark.
Still, it’s nearly impossible to know what return on investment the Browns will get in the coming months. They will find out eventually, probably by the end of training camp.
Not that the Browns are thinking in those terms right now. Coach Mike Pettine has made clear football for Manziel is an “afterthought” right now. The team wants him to get better.
Manziel is still in treatment despite a report that he had left the facility. Patients can customize treatment plans, so it’s very possible that short trips are permissible for him. What holds true is Manziel is still a willing participant in his program. He has not checked out. He’s not out doing yoga twice a week and calling it treatment. He’s dedicated to it.
The Browns could see a different guy upon return to the facility, one bereft of the character labels that mushroomed from college to the pros.
Have him back, see where it goes. That seems to be the Browns’ plan for him. The signing of journeyman quarterback Thad Lewis won’t change that.
Something that can’t be ignored, however: Whether Manziel can get it done on the field is still a question mark, with or without commitment to the job. The signing of Josh McCown serves two purposes: It fulfills the without-Johnny plan and the with-Johnny plan. McCown is likely the favorite to start Week 1 either way.
The Browns are hopeful. The same Manziel spark that interested the Browns, Vikings and others during the 2014 draft process could still make its way onto an NFL field. But he must do a lot of convincing. It wasn't the 51.4 completion percentage or the two interceptions that burned the most in Manziel's seven quarters of play. It's how he simply didn't look the part.
Eventually, Manziel will return to the team. Whether he competes for time at quarterback is all up to him.