The Hamilton Tiger-Cats said Wednesday there’s no deal imminent with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Early last month, Manziel’s representative gave the Ticats until Wednesday to work out a “fair deal” to make Manziel their quarterback. If one wasn’t reached, agent Erik Burkhardt said in a statement, “we will turn our focus to several other professional options readily available to us.”
On Wednesday evening, the Ticats said no agreement had been reached.
“While the discussions with Johnny Manziel and his representative have been very cordial and informative, there is nothing imminent and nothing to report,” theCFL club said. “We will continue to do our due diligence and will have no further public comment on the matter as we move forward.”
There was no statement from Burkhardt, who also didn’t immediately return a telephone message from The Canadian Press.
Manziel has been on Hamilton’s negotiation list since his days at Texas A&M. He captured the 2012 Heisman Trophy as U.S. college football’s top player before being selected in the first round, No. 22 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Manziel has been out of football since March 2016 when he was released by the Browns after posting a 2-6 record as their starter.
In his original statement, Burkhardt didn’t specify what constituted a “fair deal,” but added “we believe ‘fair deal’ means on par with what Hamilton has paid their QB in recent years, despite not having much on-field success.”
Former Ticats starter Zach Collaros was scheduled to be the CFL’s highest-paid player this season with a salary exceeding $500,000. Hamilton dealt Collaros to Saskatchewan last month and he agreed to a re-worked, one-yard contract with the Roughriders.
There are reports Hamilton did present Manziel with a contract before Wednesday but it was well below what his camp was looking for. Still, it’s believed the Ticats’ offer would’ve made Manziel the highest-paid CFL rookie in the league’s salary-cap era.
Two league sources said Wednesday they saw the Ticats speaking with Burkhardt last week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
On Dec. 28, the CFL announced it would approve a contract for Manziel if one was negotiated with Ticats. That gave Hamilton 10 days to make an offer to Manziel in order to maintain his rights.
The Ticats made an offer, meaning Manziel would remain on their negotiation list for another year. But that was before Burkhardt issued the firm deadline.
Last August, Manziel worked out for the Ticats but didn’t receive a contract offer at the time. However, Manziel’s camp activated Hamilton’s 10-day window, forcing the CFL club to make a decision on whether to sign or trade him.
The CFL then stepped in and extended the window for further evaluation. The following month, Manziel met with commissioner Randy Ambrosie to discuss a resolution, which included Manziel having to fulfil certain requirements to join the league.
Shortly afterward, the CFL announced the Ticats would hold Manziel’s rights until Nov. 30, before extending the process again into January to continue with its due diligence.
Hamilton (6-12) finished third in the East Division last year and missed the CFL playoffs. The Ticats were 0-8 under Collaros before Kent Austin resigned as head coach – he remains the club’s director of football operations – and was replaced on an interim basis by June Jones.
After signing Jones to a three-year contract, the Ticats also re-signed quarterback Jeremiah Masoli – who went 6-4 after being named Hamilton’s starter by Jones – to a contract extension.