Is Ex-Browns Bust Johnny Manziel a Cautionary Tale for Baker Mayfield?

Mayfield had better hope his post-Cleveland football career turns out much better than Manziel's

Ex-NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel walks off the field in 2015
Ex-NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel walks off the field in 2015.
Peter G. Aiken/Getty

Undersized former Heisman Trophy winners with big personalities who entered the draft amid questions about their chances of long-term success in the NFL, star NCAA quarterbacks Johnny Manziel (No. 22) and Baker Mayfield (No. 1) both wound up being selected in the first round of the draft by the Cleveland Browns.

Now that Deshaun Watson has been brought in to replace Mayfield, who is still on the Browns’ roster and will most likely be traded or cut by the time the NFL season starts, Manziel and Mayfield now both hold the distinction of having to continue their football careers outside of Cleveland after flaming out in Ohio.

For Manziel, that burnout came fast, as he only played parts of two tumultuous seasons in Cleveland after being drafted in 2014 and had just as many problems off the football field as he had on it. Mayfield’s run with Browns was much better as his four seasons with the team included a trip to the playoffs and a win in the postseason, but the end result was the same, as the 27-year-old failed to become the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be.

As of now, it remains unclear where Mayfield will wind up and if he’ll get another chance to start in the NFL. (He should.) For his sake, hopefully, he’s been paying attention to what has happened with Manziel since he left the NFL. Following lackluster stints in the Canadian Football League and the Alliance of American Football, Manziel is now playing Fan Controlled Football on a team that features Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens. (Manziel is 27 while Owens is 48.) “He looks exactly the same as he does five, 15 years ago,” Manziel said of T.O. to The Associated Press. “The guy’s a legend.”

Manziel is too — and also a cautionary tale that Mayfield should bear in mind as he finds out what’s next in his career.

“I try and stay out of a lot of the Cleveland drama and what surrounds the Browns, but being a friend of Baker and having a bunch of mutual friends, we do spend a little bit of time together here and there,” Manziel said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders. I think he’s got a lot of his career left ahead of him, and he’s going to get himself in a situation just based on the fact that Cleveland doesn’t want him anymore, obviously, with decisions they’ve made. He’s going to land on his feet and I think he’ll end up somewhere where he can be successful.”

Here’s hoping it’s it in the NFL and not in the CFL, AAF or throwing fan-controlled passes to Owens.

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