Ticats GM Eric Tillman says Johnny Manziel deadline ‘fluid’

Ticats general manager Eric Tillman believes the deadline set by Johnny Manziel and his agent isn’t a hard one.

“A lot of stuff happens in the negotiation process,” Tillman told Alex Marvez and co-hosts Rick Neuheisel and Mark Dominik on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We have a lot of respect for Erik [Burkhardt]. Our meetings with Johnny have been good.”

“We’ll be patient. I know the deadline is there but will be fluid. There’s a lot of time between now and the beginning of camp (in May).”

On Jan. 8, Burkhardt released a statement that said in part: “due to Johnny’s strong relationship with coach [June] Jones and Hamilton executive Kent Austin, we’ve made the decision to deal exclusively with Hamilton and give them until January 31st to work out a fair deal to make him their quarterback.”

Tillman says he doesn’t take issue with Burkhardt’s approach.

“There aren’t many benefits of being 60, which I am now, but one is that you learn the value of patience. [Burkhardt] is doing his job and trying to represent his client,” Tillman said.

“Johnny certainly is a guy that was an elite player and has a high profile. I’m not going to negotiate obviously on the air but we understand that (deadline) is just part of the process.”

That proclamation came after Manziel was given the go-ahead by CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie to play in the CFL after meeting with the controversial quarterback and subjecting him to “an extensive process” that included an assessment by an expert in domestic violence prevention.

Manziel was charged with assault of former girlfriend Colleen Crowley. He reached a dismissal agreement that required him to complete an anger management class, attend a domestic violence impact panel and participate in a substance-abuse program. His two-year-old case for assault has been dismissed.

“We’re in a world now where sometimes people are identified by their worst moments. All people make mistakes. Certainly young people do,” Tillman said.

“I see a lot of good in Johnny. We see a lot of upside in him. We visited with him and looked him in the eye. I think he’s a guy who wants to reestablish himself even more as a person than a player. If he comes, I think it will be a win-win situation.”

Tillman revealed that Manziel went 52-of-54 in the August workout he did in Buffalo for the Ticats.

“His accuracy we absolutely ridiculous. He’s throwing against air, but still, we see a lot of good signs. The bumps are well documented. But we want to see him get on with the rest of his life and be very successful,” Tillman said.

“The things we do in our league certainly maximize his skill set and give him a chance to create an opportunity if he plays very well. If he were to play to his potential, he could come back after a couple of years in Canada and there would be suitors across the board for a quarterback that has his physical skill set.”

The 25-year-old Manziel has been on the Ticats neg list since his days at Texas A&M, where he became the first freshman to capture the Heisman Trophy in 2012. The Cleveland Browns selected him in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft and he spent two seasons with the club, posting a 2-6 record as a starter before being released March 11, 2016.

“We’re not here to be a farm system. We’re very proud of our game and our league and we love guys that come into Canada and become CFL lifers,” Tillman said. “But we also take pride in the guys that come and play, excel and then go back (to the NFL) and do well. You want what’s best for them.”