Personnel men around the CFL believe Johnny Manziel’s salary demands are outrageous for a player with his background.

Manziel sent shockwaves through the league when his agent Erik Burkhardt released a public statement. For months Manziel, Hamilton and the CFL kept quiet about the process he was going through and the contract negotiations – until Manziel’s camp put out a specific definition of a deal the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner would accept.

So that there will not be any ambiguity in regards to financial expectations, and so the public understands how seriously Johnny is considering this move, I will tell you that we believe ‘fair deal’ means on par with what Hamilton has paid their QB in recent years, despite not having much on-field success. If we cannot reach a deal with Hamilton by this date, we will turn our focus to several other professional options readily available to us.

Zach Collaros made over $500,000 in 2017, a pact he signed after he took the Ticats to the Grey Cup in 2014 and played at a MOP level for 12 games in 2015. The 29-year-old has completed over 66 per cent of his passes for more than 13,000 yards and 83 touchdowns against just 38 interceptions plus 846 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Collaros has proven he is among the elite quarterbacks in the CFL when operating at peak performance. That’s the reason Chris Jones sent a second-round pick to secure the signal caller for his rising Riders.

The difference is clear to personnel types around the league.

“That Manziel agent demand is garbage. He’s an idiot. I hope Hamilton stands their ground and he goes and pursues his ‘other professional opportunities.’ To call out Collaros and say he had very little success in the league is dumb. All the guy did was lead his team to the Grey Cup and was on his way to an MOP season before tearing his ACL. The guy doesn’t deserve a penny more than Vince Young. What has he done in his career aside from drink his way out of the NFL? ” one CFL source said.

Young signed a standard two-year deal with $120,000 base salary both years, $15,000 in housing and another possible $71,000 in playtime bonuses and incentives, including $9,000 ($500 per game) for being the second QB on the depth chart. He did not receive any upfront money meaning the Riders could (and ultimately did) release him in training camp without paying a dime.

“I wish someone would call his agent and tell him to tell me what his client has done aside from boozing and partying himself out of a job. He hasn’t done a thing since college… that was years ago. I hope they let him sit on the neg and I would love to know what these other opportunities are,” another CFL personnel man said.

Manziel was selected in the first round, 22nd overall by the Browns in 2014. He threw for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 74.4 QB rating while going 2-6 as a starter for the Browns. The team released Manziel in March 2016 and no NFL teams have offered a contract since.

“I didn’t think he was that good at the NFL level. If he loves football he should hope to play in the CFL and stay there forever,” an NFL executive says.

The only other league where Manziel could make significant money would be the XFL, which Vince McMahon sold $100 million of his WWE shares to prepare to bring back. But that’s a long way from happening, if it happens at all.

“Who knows if the XFL takes off soon, but he would be an idiot not to take a CFL job,” one CFL talent evaluator said.

If playing football in Canada actually comes to fruition, one front office man believes there is someone who might meet Manziel’s demands.

“I could definitely see Kavis [Reed] paying him.”


Justin Dunk is the pre-eminent CFL insider and unabashed supporter of Canadian quarterbacks. He is one of the founders of the new 3DownNation.