Another start and another impressive performance by Antonio Pipken and the Montreal Alouettes. It’s amazing what two weeks can do to a team’s collective psyche and fortunes. At 3-8, the odds are still long for Montreal to make the postseason. But it’s a topic that the players are now not shying away from. The games mean something again.
Not only did Pipken lead the Als to a win on the road versus a division leader coming off a bye and two straight 40-point efforts, but he’s injecting an energy and sense of belief into the entire team. Players on both sides of the ball believe in the 23-year old quarterback, so much so that they’re constantly patting him on the back and ribbing him during postgame media interviews.
This isn’t a three-game phenomenon. There’s something special about both the skill set and the swagger of this player. He’s a leader. He’s humble. He’s composed. He’s resilient. In short, he’s everything that the team has searched for at the QB position since Anthony Calvillo retired in 2013.
But the availability and large contract of Johnny Manziel continues to loom over the current quarterback starter. The team has invested so much in Manziel and they’re bound to turn the reigns over to him soon, right? Well… maybe not.
Think about it. Manziel has a two-year deal at a hefty price tag. For a team that’s not garnering 30,000 home crowds and that has spent up to the cap, not to mention has had to pay fired coaches for many years, they wouldn’t just pay Johnny to sit on the bench, right?
I don’t think it’ll come to that. Montreal now heads into a bye week and then will host the B.C. Lions, another winnable game. Pipken has to start again, and if he wins he’ll be 3-1 with four good starts under his belt. Let’s say Montreal goes 7-3 in Pipken’s starts the rest of the way and narrowly misses out on the playoffs. Surely that’s a sample size to know that he’s their future QB to lock up. To me, it’s something they should do in a heartbeat.
Follow my line of thinking. If Manziel sees that Pipken is the starter next season he’s not the type of guy to sit around and collect that money. He is desperate to play. As he approaches 30, Manziel knows that his opportunity has to be now. With the new American Alliance of Football beginning in 2019, as well as the XFL in 2020, Manziel has options. He would likely ask for his release from that 2019 contract, letting the Alouettes off the hook and able to offer Pipken a whole lot of years and money.
I could easily see Vince Mcmahon paying Manziel to sign exclusively with the XFL and sit out the 2019 season. Manziel could promote the league and become its first well-known ambassador and star. He already does a Barstool Radio regular podcast, and we saw what the ESPN ratings were for his first CFL start.
In conclusion, there’s no way that Johnny sticks around in Montreal to be the backup. So the Als should not be worried about being on the hook for that 2019 contract year. The only question is whether or not Andrew Wetenhall and Kavis Reed are big enough to simply chalk up the trade as a blunder and move on. My worry is that they’re not.
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