Kent Austin on Manziel negotiations: ‘obviously, we’re very far apart’

While the Hamilton Tiger-Cats remain optimistic they can get a deal done with quarterback Johnny Manziel, the team’s vice president of football operations acknowledged Tuesday that there is a significant gap between the two sides.

“Well, we’re certainly hopeful always. We always go into these things with a very positive outlook but we feel like we put a very competitive, more than fair, more than reasonable offer on the table and obviously we’re very far apart,” Austin told TSN radio. “And like any other negotiation, we’ll see how it goes.”

Austin spoke with local media a day after Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, released a statement via an American-based football reporter that complained about the CFL’s negotiation list structure and suggested that his client should be the team’s No. 1 quarterback, entitled to similar compensation to the $540,000 earned by former starter Zach Collaros last season – an unusually high sum for a player who has yet to play a down in the CFL and comes with some significant personal baggage.

Burkhardt also imposed a Jan. 31 deadline, or “we will turn our focus to several other professional options readily available to us.”

Austin said he knew that the Manziel camp was going to impose some kind of a timeline, but didn’t know when it would be, or that his agent would make the deadline public on Monday afternoon.

“Erik has been unbelievably transparent, honest and fair right through this process,” Austin told The Spectator Tuesday morning. “He said there was going to be a deadline, but we didn’t know it was going to be Jan. 31.”

Over the weekend, the Ticats made Manziel a contract offer, meeting another deadline, set by the CFL and its negotiation list rules. If they hadn’t made an offer — even if it wasn’t accepted, which Burkhardt’s statement clearly indicates it wasn’t – they would have lost Manziel from their negotiation list to CFL free agency.

To keep Manziel on their negotiation list for up to a year, all the Ticats had to offer was the minimum CFL salary but Austin said their offer was well over that amount ($53,000).

Burkhardt referred to the offer as a “place-holder” and said he and Manziel consider a fair offer is for the Ticats to make Manziel their quarterback with a salary on a par with what Hamilton quarterbacks have made in recent years.

Since the Ticats just re-signed Jeremiah Masoli to a two-year contract with starting-quarterback money and traded Zach Collaros and his $540,000 contract to Saskatchewan (where it will likely be renegotiated downward) Manziel isn’t going to get a starter’s salary too. Especially since he hasn’t played a game in two years. Austin pointed out that even future Hall of Famers such as Doug Flutie and Anthony Calvillo had struggles in their early CFL careers.

 “Erik is doing what he needs to do to, I get that,” Austin said. “But our offer was more than fair, more than competitive.”

Austin also said that some of the release’s wording around the Tiger-Cats giving Manziel permission to negotiate with another team was confusing. That permission was given, Austin said, but it was during negotiations earlier in the fall, not now.  It’s believed Manziel and Burkhardt met with the Montreal Alouettes.

Burkhardt’s statement said that because Manziel has been impressed with Austin and head coach June Jones, they were restricting discussions to the Tiger-Cats. Until the end of this month, that is. But they have no current permission to speak to another team, Austin said.

 Austin said that Burkhardt’s deadline is an artificially imposed one. He said it would “be pure speculation on my part,” so would not comment on why he thought Burkhardt would choose to make such a strong public statement.

“Things can change very quickly,” Austin cautioned. “Things are fluid. We like to stay positive.”


Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (210 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

41 Comments on Kent Austin on Manziel negotiations: ‘obviously, we’re very far apart’

  1. Philip Nicholson // January 9, 2018 at 10:06 am //

    I wish I was a fly on the wall.
    Seems like the Cats are competent and negotiating similar to every other contract. I see no poor management of the situation on their part.

    The Manziel team however is suffering from delusions of grandeur and arrogance; not sure whether its the agent or Manziel. Not sure why an NFL wash-out think he deserves $500k. Last I heard he hasn’t thrown in two years and is flabby. The guy needs a serious reality check.

    • Just walk across our boarder and automatically and immediately become a citizen. And, if you want work, you can be the starting QB for one of our professional football teams.
      Or how about captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs? You can have that too! And mayor, we want you to be our mayor! Just have to say so and its all yours!
      Maybe he’ll get creamed while filling in as a backup on Mtl! Or maybe he will win us a GCup, but, if you are going to say such stupid things, please don’t talk so loud, people might hear you, stupid!

    • But, but … your coach has called him the best player to ever play in the CFL! If the Ticats are being fair surely they should be prepared to pay him like the best player to ever play in the CFL, right? Surely someone of that exalted stature should be paid at least as much as a mere mortal like Collaros? Your own coach admitted it, he’s the best player to every play in the CFL! /s

  2. Sea of Dead // January 9, 2018 at 10:09 am //

    The Cats had a lot of chemistry and team spirit in the 2nd half of the past season. I fear that it could all be lost if the Cats sign JM for anything close to what his agent is demanding, or if they sign him at all. I would trade his rights and let someone else take the risk. We know what we have now … Let’s build on that and not increase the probability of regression.

    • Here, Here! I agree completely!!!

      The worst thing the Ticats could do to all that team chemistry they built up during the 6-4 finish, would be to bring Manziel into training camp, at any salary.

      Trade his rights for another 2nd round pick, and let’s get on with the important stuff, like signing Tasker, for example.

      If Montreal wants the Manziel circus, go for it!

  3. Lennywasout // January 9, 2018 at 10:13 am //

    Let the jerk sit until next Jan.
    If Montreal really wants him then hold out for 2 starting Canadian talent plus draft choices. Austin has been more than fair to this turd.

  4. Manziel wants to start immediately….cruise up to games in his party limo …..and after 6 months in the CFL, go play NFL ball….so let him start in Montreal with all of their shtty players (because all their money will have been paid to Manziel–who is already a multi-millionaire btw) ….no O-line to protect him, no receivers, no defence….and let his greedy ass get kickd to the curb once and for all….you don’t waltz into the CFL and demand more money than Mike Reilly, James Franklin, Bo Mitchell

  5. Burkhardt is either a big idiot or has things lined up. guesses.. Futures contract with mentor and new Raiders coach Jon Gruden… Some rapper owns Arena team in Richmind, Virginia and wanted Manz .. Spring league in West Virginia.. new XFL..Montreal Als. Burkhardt has a point. locking up an Amateur into perpetuity is unfair, unseemly, and Nefarious. Think on it..They can lock down 45 guys forever. Both drafts NFL and CFL have limited rounds and if not chosen you are free agent. International baseball players such as Japanese and Dominican are free agents at 16. Solution..hold two drafts of CIS and NCAA players with the same rules for each draft. No amateurs. Only graduated or declared. Non chosen are FA. Same high draft pick salary rules whether CIS or NCAA. Any Canadian Business lawyers on this board? Would neg list survive legal challenge?

    • BigRedMachine // January 9, 2018 at 11:16 am //

      The neg list is designed to keep salaries in check on an entry level contract. After the initial entry level contract is completed a player can become an unrestricted free agent. In the NFL you need to have completed 3 seasons of at least 6 games before you have the ability to become a UFA. The neg list may be archaic but it has served its purpose and has worked for a lot of years. I do wish they would be more public though.

      • Marcus Aeraleous // January 9, 2018 at 12:36 pm //

        Johnny Bench aka bigredmachine just have an international draft and a national draft. same rules for each.

  6. Philip Nicholson // January 9, 2018 at 10:29 am //

    Wonder what the alouettes have that they could trade with? In this situation, draft picks wont cut it.

  7. I would love to see the Cats deal him to Mtl for Darian Durant, rework Durants contract and tell him he is here to help mentor Masoli. Having an experienced QB can only help, I agree with sea of dead, the Cats had something going, don’t screw it up by wasting your time bringing in Manziel and his baggage.

  8. Hey Mike

    Told ya last year to get rid of your management group
    This Austin and his ideas – wow !!

    Hamilton fans deserve better than this circus

  9. Agent playing hardball, maybe nothing more. Makes me want to see him implode on another team BUT! a long bomb to win the Grey Cup in the final minute and not a single person remembers today! Not one of us!!

  10. Scottsask // January 9, 2018 at 11:33 am //

    Ticats1 Darian Durant is not a mentor. You’d be better off with Kevin Glenn….seriously.

  11. GreenGiant // January 9, 2018 at 11:38 am //

    Cue the trade with Montreal for Manziel’s rights. Masoli will be just fine for the Ticats, and Kavis is dumb enough to throw that kind of money at Manziel.

  12. I agree send this CLOWN to Montreal and watch him implode his comeback. I was all for giving this guys chance but you start acting like an idiot i don’t think its worth the bullshit

  13. A huge problem here is that Austin is still around and he’s apparently the one doing the negotiations (what exactly does GM Tillman do?).

    Austin is clearly not a Masoli fan (as proven multiple times when he was coaching) and would like nothing better than to bring in Manziel (and therefore have an excuse to release/trade Masoli to make salary room) and prove he’s smarter than anyone else.

    If the top brass don’t stop this nonsense soon, they’ll have another bad team and many more empty seats.

    • Very insightful. Austin kept Masoli on his team every year from 2013 to 2017, and then signed him to a starter’s salary for 2018-19, all for the purpose of cutting him in 2018. Such a devious plan, six years in the making.

  14. Scottsask // January 9, 2018 at 11:57 am //

    Empty seats only happen in fickle sports markets, I don’t think Hamilton falls under that category.

  15. Garney
    I don’t accept your opinion that I don’t know anything about the CFL , but’s that’s ok

    Ti-cat management have always negotiated big name contracts through the press under Austin – that’s wrong – simply wrong ! , as I’ve said – Hamilton fans deserve better than this management circus
    I read the article clearly from a management standpoint
    If you are employed under the Ti-Cats – quit

    I played football , managed football .

  16. Tiger Chick // January 9, 2018 at 12:12 pm //

    Hey Kent, we all like to be positive but I’m absolutely positive this guy will bring our team down if signed. There should be no further negotiations on this. Use the money that we would use to waste on this clown to sign guys who remain a positive asset to our team like Tasker, Dean, Laurent. Johnny can hang out to dry with his agent. I’m hoping the top office takes into consideration all the negativity surrounding Johnny Football and what it would do to their franchise if they signed him. Bad blood, go find someone else to feed your ego Johnny.

  17. Is there any connection between the Manziel deadline of Jan 31st, and the fact that the Als have to pay Durant a contract bonus on Feb 1st? Seems like JM’s side is trying to force a trade. In the Trump era, we hear so much about on the record/off the record conversations. Are the Als having off the record conversations with Johnny F***Up?….. Oops – Football?

  18. I’m curious what June Jones has to say. He made a very bold statement and I bet Burkhardt and Manziel read or heard them. Maybe June should learn to keep his mouth shut.
    To bad it’s going down like this but negotiations do not need to last many weeks. Get something done and make a decision.

  19. Marcus Aeraleous // January 9, 2018 at 12:36 pm //

    One thing I noticed is that people tend to over state the differences in rules between the CFL, NFl, and NCAA. To me the differences between the three are no different than FIBA (Olympics-Euro leagues) , NBA, and NCAA Men’s Basketball. Why? The extra man in the CFL is already a defacto reality in college spread offences. So no backfield and an extra receiver at Texas [email protected] where Herr Fussball played. Same amount of receivers now as the CFL and the Linebacker drops to cover thus an extra DB like in CFL. The huddle clock is about half as much in CFL as in the NCAA but most college teams now go no huddle so it ends up being about the same. Lastly the one fewer down was designed to speed up the game but again most US colleges already do that throwing on every down. Johnny played that type of offence in college.

    • Marcus Aeraleous // January 9, 2018 at 12:37 pm //

      Now to the Basketball reference. The Down rule is a legislated opportunity for the other side to get the ball. Which is exactly what the shot clock is. Yes, you can still get the ball on a steal, fumble, or interception but the down and shot clock rule is designed to give the other side a chance at the ball. So of course NBA is the highest scoring as it has a 24 second shot clock and NCAA men’s is 35. FIBA is 24 seconds also but they play 2 fewer minutes so the games in the Olympics tend to be lower soring. But USA can sure run up 150 points on Angola at the Olympics

      • Marcus Aeraleous // January 9, 2018 at 12:38 pm //

        What about players crossing over from Europe or the NCAA to the NBA? It is not a whole lot different than NCAA to CFL or NFL to CFL. Yes some bomb but Flutie started at 600K in Todays inflation adjusted dollars and thrived. Then there is the kid who just led the CFL in receiving and now is with the Vikings. He was a quick adjustment. I know QB is harder but Johnny du Football played a CFLish style at Texas [email protected] As for Basketball some Rookies have an immediate impact like the Celtics kid from Duke. Absolutely thriving and only one year at Duke. The big Finnish guy with the Bulls is a double example. Played pro ball in Europe and one year at Arizona is already the best player on the rampaging Bulls. Then there are tons of wash outs in the NBA. Chris Mims anyone? It is a mixed bag just like the CFL.

        • I hope you’re joking with this comparison. The NBA, NCAA, and European basketball are basically the same game with some minor differences in rules. Canadian and American football, otoh, have major, MAJOR, differences. Here are just a few:

          The American field is 53 1/3 yards wide, while the CFL field is 65 yards wide. That’s over 20% wider with just one extra man to cover all that open space, and that man is a DB, so usually there are the same number of players in the box, but the field is 20% wider.

          There’s one less down. This changes the game radically. In American football you only need to average 3.4 yards per carry to get a first down (generally a team has 3 offensive plays and then will punt on the 4th if they didn’t get a 1st down). In the CFL you need to average 5 yards per carry, a huge difference, but you have an extra receiver and a huge amount of extra field, so you the game shifts to much more of a passing game with mobile QBs who can roll out and used that space to extend plays, and perhaps even run. RBs historically have tended to be more like American scat backs who are quick and fast and can use the extra open field, instead of power backs.

          Of course in response defences use quicker players to cover all that extra open space, but they don’t need to be as big because the 3 downs make the power running game much less effective.

          And there are more differences as well. I’ve seen it explained to American football fans this way. Imagine an NFL game with the offensive team in a 3 WR set. Now stretch the short side of the field out by 20% and put an extra receiver out there, and a DB on defence to cover him. Now pretend that every first down automatically becomes a second down. What players are you going to use, and what plays are you going to call?

          The differences between US and Canadian football are major, and much, more significant than the basketball leagues you described. A better comparison might be to compare 3 on 3 basketball with 5 man basketball.

  20. A lepord does not change its spots if having NO motiviation to do so!! AS pointed out , Manzel does not need the cash ( wealthy family ) as I see it its an ego thing for Manzel, aka “I am to the be TOP paid player in the CFL, because years ago I was fortunate to play well in on a GREAT texas team that was well coached and LOADED with play makers!!! That team got me a HEISMAN and the delusion I am a future NFL hall of fame QB , well due to my lack of character /questionable life style I blew that possibility but now my ego requires me to still do what I can to be in the media and seeing myself as the top paid player in a league I don’t respect still feeds my base ego enough to carry on.” To me that is what Jonny football is saying, apart from the part complimenting his team mates on his texas team. ,

  21. solara2000 // January 9, 2018 at 3:02 pm //

    Open post to K.A and rest of TiCat coaches and management staff.
    Just finished reading comments of Matt Nichol on JM. If isolated that’s one thing but he is but one of many players, both TiCats and opposition players, voicing their displeasure with the JM saga. This isn’t going to work out; don’t make it another ‘Briles’ story. At this point nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    Let’s wish Johnny well with his career and life and move on. .

  22. This is what negotiations are all about. Both parties make their positions known and try to reach a mutually agreed to settlement between the parties. The key is who has the leverage at this point in time. We don’t know any of the details in the negotiations and we may be surprised once this all unfolds. The Tiger Cats had the leverage when they met the deadline requirement of 7 Jan. The ball was put into Manziels court and Hamilton thought they would maintain their leverage. That failed when Burqhart Manziel’s agent put Hamilton on notice that there is a deadline to the negotiations. Now Manziel has the high ground. Hamilton cannot drag this out and have two options from an economic/business perspective. Negotiate an agreement before the deadline and come up with compensation and incentives that both parties agree on. Fail that they will see if they can make trade to get something back after all this time. The Manziel camp is not worried about no deal re the above. They believe he will be playing in the NFL this spring as a backup quarterback. The reason being that he would now then have demonstrated a substantial change in character re the partying and substance abuse. As a matter of fact he owes the CFL commission this opportunity as the extreme vetting and subsequent conditions should he be playing in Canada plus not court actions pending he will be given a second look.

    One issue with Manziel going to Montreal is the fact that overall they do not have a good team offense or defence. He would be part of the building block and would not be able to show his full potential with Montreal In short lets let this negotiation play out and get fully informed of details should he sign or night sign with Hamilton. I think the Hamilton Tiger Cats when they signed Mazoli knew they had problems signing Manziel and I am not too sure that Hamilton Manziel and Montreal may all be in the loop. This trade to a cfl team will show their fans they got something. +

  23. Dave Naylor put it well in a pod cast. Manziels agent looks around at Franklin who only three 19 Passes in his career in CFL and Mazoli who only had 6 games as starter with Hamilton and lost 2. He is not a johnny manziel talent or future franchise of CFL Manziel can bring the exposure to the CFL US football fans will know where Regina and Hamilton are. The free multi million dollar exposure for CFL is what Johnny Manziel brings Mazoli know about this situation before he signed on. There is no way he was going to stay on if Manziel was coming. Given what Hamilton would have to pay him there is no way Manziel would be sitting on the bench as his talent and potential far exceeds Mazoli

  24. i am thinking this not about money all but about playing time. He knows he will sit behind Mazoli. So the over the top demands are just to force a trade to his former coach at Mtl who stated the QB position is up for grabs

  25. Anthony Kaduck // January 9, 2018 at 7:31 pm //

    Well stated RFD. One more significant diffence between CFL and NFL/NCAA:our end zone are 20 yards deep vs 10. If a QB has decent protection in the red zone one of his receivers will always be able to break free of coverage.

  26. Really it comes down to the TiCats and Als. Should not be dragged out for all parties involved. If Manziels agent does not like the TiCat offer then let the Als have a shot at him. If Manziel passes on the Als offer then it is a dead issue. He simply will not play in the CFL in 2018.

  27. Colourmegreen // January 10, 2018 at 12:44 am //

    Sign him, sit back, grab some popcorn and watch the show. Show me the money Manzeil will just embarrass himself like he did in the NFL. He is proven failure. College ball ain’t professional ball.

    Any team that signs will regret it. Just look at how he is acting right now. He will jump ship at a moments notice. Glad he won’t play for us

    Not feeling to bad now about the Collaros trade.

  28. The Ti- Cats gave Collarus $540,000 which was insane. I don’t want to know what they gave Masoli. Get Manziel signed already. What was this idiocy allowing Montreal to talk to Manziel? The Ti-Cats are like a clown team. Get professional already. It is difficult enough to cheer for a team that is overflowing with management positions. Surely someone in management can put this situation to bed.

    • Wow, you are welcome to your opinion Z3Cat but dont slander an organization based on your ignorant opinion! Oh and that ignorant in the fact you dont know what youre talking about not ignorant for calling the team you say you cheer for a “clown organization”.

  29. Gary Paglia // January 10, 2018 at 6:21 pm //

    Cats sign Manzel look what Jones did with Masoli who has one fifth the skill of Manziel may take him a few games to get used to the extra player on defense but he will be the leading rusher on the cats and top rushing QB in the league has good arm strength and accurate passing he will do very well in the cfl given the chance opportunity and will fill seats everywhere,

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