Q&A: Ticats GM Eric Tillman on the Johnny Manziel deal

On Sunday, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats completed a blockbuster trade, sending quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Montreal Alouettes along with offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice in exchange for Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman, receiver Chris Williams and first round picks in 2020 and 2021.

I talked to Ticats general manager Eric Tillman to get his thoughts on the deal:

Drew Edwards: This trade seems like a giant vote of confidence for Jeremiah Masoli.

Eric Tillman: Without question. Our conversations with Montreal go all the way back to the spring of 2017 but when it really started gaining steam in the last 72 to 96 hours, one of the components of this was June’s confidence level in Jeremiah and his emphatic belief that he is our guy. Secondarily, is June’s growing confidence Dane Evans. We would not have made this deal if June didn’t feel really good about that combination.

From Montreal’s perspective, Kavis Reed understands the value of Johnny and to his credit he got on the plane Sunday morning to meet face-to-face and that tells you how much they wanted to get this deal done

DE: You lost a couple of other players as well in Tony Washington and Landon Rice.

ET: They are two quality players but in a trade you have to give up value to get value. But that’s an area where we have tremendous depth and that factored into the decision. There are two or three scenarios that could unfold at left tackle but these are things we discussed at length before pulling the trigger on the trade.

DE: Talk about what Westerman and Williams bring.

ET: We believe they are both top-notch additions to our club. Jamaal is not only talented but he plays the game with great passion and energy. The gifts are obvious but so is the motor. Chris is an explosive guy who is also a playmaker and will certainly be a terrific fit in June’s offence.

DE: And the two first round picks?

ET: The future matters and in this league Canadian content is an integral part of success and we feel that we position ourselves to be very strong in that area over the next few years.

DE: Ticats fans seem disappointed that they didn’t get see Manziel play.

ET: We understand that. Johnny is a talented young man and he’s come in and done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been a really good teammate. But Jeremiah has become our starter and has solidified himself and he has the confidence of our head coach. Johnny will go to Montreal and we expect him to play very well, quite frankly, we hope he does.

We feel this trade makes us better. But we also felt that Johnny deserved an opportunity to be a starting quarterback in this league. In that way, we view it as a win-win.

Drew Edwards is the founder of 3DownNation but has since wandered off. Beard in the photo not exactly as shown.