Five potential landing spots for Johnny Manziel ahead of next season

Jay Asser 9/04/2018
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Johnny Manziel could draw interest from NFL and CFL teams.

Johnny Manziel is likely to draw some level of interest from NFL and CFL teams after his stint in The Spring League, where he made his debut on Saturday with 83 passing yards and a touchdown throw.

Here are five teams that could target Manziel ahead of next season:

New England Patriots

If Manziel does return to the NFL, it would make sense for it to happen with a franchise that has an established culture that can help him assimilate.

Getting Bill Belichick’s approval would go a long way in restoring Manziel’s reputation and boosting his value around the league. And New England could use a back-up quarterback with a higher ceiling than Brian Hoyer’s. There is some history here as well with the Patriots having brought him in for his first pre-draft visit and then meeting with him before and after Texas A&M’s recent pro day.

Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones has been a longtime admirer of Manziel and there is definitely some overlap between Cowboys and Texas A&M fans.

Playing in his home state would be a draw for Manziel, who himself grew up a Dallas fan and has previously said that ending up with the Cowboys would be a “folktale”.

With their back-up quarterback situation currently headlined by Cooper Rush, Dallas could use Manziel, who shares some of the dual-threat abilities that starter Dak Prescott does. There are enough reasons to at least give him a look.

Cincinnati Bengals

Like the Patriots, the Bengals aren’t opposed to giving players second chances, having rostered Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, Vontaze Burfict and Terrell Owens over the years.

Cincinnati also happened to lose their back-up quarterback, AJ McCarron, to Buffalo, leaving them with uninspiring options in Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel behind starter Andy Dalton.

Manziel would be an upgrade over those two and someone who can bring some excitement to an offence that sometimes need a jolt of originality.

Seattle Seahawks

Manziel isn’t Russell Wilson, but there are similarities between the two quarterbacks. For one, they’re both around six feet tall, which is relatively short for the position.

Yet despite being vertically challenged, both put tremendous pressure on opposing defences thanks to their strong arm and quick feet. If Wilson was to suffer an injury, Manziel would be able to slide into the offensive scheme and do some of the same things.

Plus, it would be a stable situation for Manziel thanks to the culture Pete Carroll has cultivated.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

It won’t be Manziel’s first option, but there’s a decent chance the CFL may be the only league that offers him a contract. And with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats currently holding his rights, Manziel may end up taking his talents to Ontario.

While it wouldn’t be ideal for Manziel, playing in the CFL would at least allow him to get reps as a starter and show NFL teams from afar that he can be a professional for a full season.

Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia are two quarterbacks who famously jumped from the CFL to the NFL. A brief stay north of the border could help build up Manziel’s value and benefit him in the long run.

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Jay Wright would be more than justified in wanting to grow his legacy at Villanova instead of leaving for the NBA

Jay Asser 3/04/2018
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Jay Wright is one of only 14 coaches to ever win the NCAA Tournament more than once.

Jay Wright is about to be a very wanted man in NBA circles.

After leading Villanova to their second national championship in three years by beating Michigan on Monday, the Wildcats coach has raised his stock through the roof and set up a critical decision on his future.

He can either choose to continue growing his legacy at the nation’s top basketball programme, or take on the next challenge in the NBA.

Ambition would suggest there isn’t much of a choice. The NBA is the highest level of basketball and succeeding there is unlike thriving anywhere else.

Just think of the clout San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has, or the reverence Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is showered with.

Reaching that level has to be the ultimate dream for a coach, right?

Well, Wright is already living his own kind of dream, and while it may not see him follow in the path of someone like Popovich, it’s not far off from another coaching legend: Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

‘Coach K’ is widely considered one of the top basketball coaches in the world, all without ever having coached a single NBA game. He’s been at the helm of the United States men’s basketball team during three gold medal runs at the Olympics and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson.

Wright still has a way to go before reaching Coach K – three titles separate them – but at the rate he’s going, it won’t be long before he’s the face of college basketball.

His road to becoming one of the best coaches in the NBA is both longer and more arduous. Wright would have to start from scratch and his success would be much more dependent on the talent he has to work with.

The spotlight would burn brighter and the scrutiny would be unlike anything he’ll face going forward at Villanova, where he’s already done enough to warrant a statue.

The money – potentially the difference in a couple million annually – likely won’t be an overwhelming factor either.

And even if he were to succeed in the NBA, there’s a wide gap between an elite coach and a legendary one.

At 56, Wright also doesn’t need to be in a rush. If the NBA is truly what he wants, he can patiently wait for the perfect job to open up.

In the meantime, Wright will be sitting pretty.

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Villanova earn second title in three years and respect as college basketball's top programme

Jay Asser 3/04/2018
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Villanova defeated Michigan 79-62 in the final of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night.

Whether they’re blue-bloods or not, there’s no arguing Villanova are the best college basketball programme in the country.

The Wildcats capped one of the most dominant stretches in the sport’s history by capturing their second national championship in three years with the 79-62 victory over Michigan on Monday.

While, historically speaking, they may not be in the same tier as blue-blood programmes like Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina, Villanova’s recent success has earned them the level of respect that those powerhouses command.

Just look at what the school have accomplished over a five-year span: 165 wins to tie an all-time record, four Big East titles and two national championships.

And Villanova don’t just deserve credit for how much they’ve won, but how they’ve done it. Since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985, the Wildcats are only the fourth team to win each game by at least 10 points and the first to do so for all of March since UCLA in 1967.

Their offence, which was stellar all season and on full display in the tournament, made them the first team since North Carolina in 2005 to lead Division I in scoring and win the title in the same year.

Duke, Florida and Kentucky are the only other programmes to capture two titles in three years since 1985.

“We don’t really judge ourselves on being called elite,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “We judge ourselves on how the guys do in school, how they grow as men, how we play night in and night out. But when the media calls you a blue-blood, we’re not turning it down. We’ll take it.”

There’s no reason to believe Villanova can’t keep their run going either, with next season’s team expected to be strong again.

While their two best players – National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson and junior wing Mikal Bridges – are expected to leave for the NBA, sixth man Donte DiVincenzo, the hero from the title game, should return in a more featured role.

Omari Spellman and Eric Paschall will also likely be back to keep Villanova’s frontcourt intact, while their recruiting class will be headlined by five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly.

What Villanova have working in their favour, unlike many top-level schools, is their ability to first draw players who stay longer than a single season and, secondly, develop them into big-time contributors.

“So many young men are in a hurry to get out of the best years of their life. That doesn’t make sense sometimes,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “And Villanova has done a great job of getting the right kid who probably values that.”

It may be too early to start talking about a ‘dynasty’, but even if another national championship isn’t on the way, Villanova can no longer be considered anything less than a premier powerhouse.

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