CLEVELAND -- Johnny Manziel's decision to get treatment and “improve” himself is a big step with plenty of implications for the 22-year-old quarterback on and off the field. This is a delicate story because Manziel is dealing with real, raw problems. After making some calls today, talking with two people close to Manziel, here's what I've been told, along with some general impressions of the day.
The Browns' staff is expecting Manziel to be part of the team for training camp -- it is not planning to walk away from him. The only reason the Browns aren't penciling him in for organized team activities in the late spring is because they want Manziel to take his time and don't want to place a hard timetable on his process.
One person close to Manziel said the quarterback voluntarily opted for treatment because he wants to “figure out his value system.” What prompted the change? An accumulation of things, sources said -- the Johnny Football persona catching up to him, the issues on the final weekend of the season that forced him to miss team activities on a Saturday because of what Browns sources believed was a night of partying, losing some credibility in factions of the locker room. If he wants to put football first, this is a step in that direction.
Manziel is expected to stay in a facility for at least a few weeks, but the term will depend on what his doctor prescribes, according to a source.
Johnny Football was winning out over Johnny Manziel the player. Manziel tried to juggle both, but it's nearly impossible to be a great quarterback that way. The days of Joe Namath are over. The game has become a grind, full of intricate schemes and defensive linemen with elite speed. Manziel conceded, and rightfully so.
People in the Browns' facility want to see Manziel do well. He's not disliked. He can be engaging. He still has traits that translate at the NFL level, including arm strength and instinctive play. The Browns want to give him an offseason to see how he responds, what he can do with a full slate of preparation.
Meanwhile, the Browns must search the earth for quarterback help in case Manziel still isn't ready. Don't expect the Browns to force the issue in the draft, leaving the free-agency market (Brian Hoyer, Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, etc.) as a feasible option. Any quarterback coming here knows he has a realistic chance to start. And don't forget about Connor Shaw. He showed a lot of toughness in the season finale at Baltimore.