Before I go any further, I want to make this point clear: I am not advocating for the Denver Broncos to sign Johnny Manziel; personally, I believe no team should be signing Manziel right now, and I think those around him would agree.
Now, with that out of the way, here’s the case for why the Broncos may be the franchise most likely to bring the former Heisman winner into their doors.
The way I see it, there are three things a team must have if they are considering taking up the Manziel Reclamation Project: structure, leadership and support. Denver has all three.
In terms of structure, I can confidently say that the Broncos organization is more secure and set in their ways than the Cleveland Browns have ever been in the last two-plus decades. In Denver, he’d be entering an environment where football, family and winning are the only things on anyone’s mind.
And it’s in John Elway that Manziel might find a leader, possibly a mentor, for the first time in his career. No. 7’s gravitas isn’t mistakable, and any young quarterback would be left without a single excuse when answering to Mr. Elway. If Manziel can’t find himself under Elway’s guidance and tutelage, he may never reset his football career.
But more than anything, it may be the simple idea of support that brings Manziel to Denver. Through his years in Cleveland, it always seemed as if Mike Pettine and the Browns were pushing Manziel away, playing the bad cop. Maybe that did him more harm than good. Maybe Manziel needed a few more people in his corner, a few more guys pulling him in the right direction.
He clearly has that in Denver, even without being here. Since Manziel’s career took a dramatic turn for the worse this offseason, the most vocal and consistent supporter of Johnny Football has been fellow-Aggie Von Miller.
Following the Broncos Super Bowl victory, Miller sent out this Instagram post, promising his “Support no matter what!”
And following the Aggies’ upset win over Kentucky on Saturday night, Miller reiterated that support to Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle.
Video: Von Miller, back in Aggieland for Kentucky game, on his relationship with Johnny Manziel: pic.twitter.com/OZ28UkHX7N
— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) February 20, 2016
Now, the issues Von Miller was dealing with early in his career were much different, and far less serious, than the ones Johnny is facing, but the point holds true; Miller overcame doubt and speculation to become one of the best young stars in the NFL, and the people and organization that helped him do just that are still in place.
If I were to bet on a franchise to help turn a troubled athlete’s career around, I would bet on the Denver Broncos.
And, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the Denver Broncos could very well be in need of a quarterback this offseason, and Manziel may have the highest upside of them all.
As I detailed earlier in the week, there is a real and growing possibility that Brock Osweiler may bolt in free agency; coupled with the pending retirement of Peyton Manning, that leaves Denver in some dire straits. Maybe Manziel isn’t the first option — maybe he’s not the fourth or fifth, either — but Elway may be left in a situation where the Broncos’ top targets have all been scooped up, and the prospects of a dirt-cheap Manziel start looking more attractive by the day.
Broncos Country would be ignorant to say that it’s not at least a possibility.