From the moment the CFL banned Johnny Manziel from signing with anyone after Montreal was forced to cut him, it was considered just a matter of time before the Alliance of American Football picked him up. Fans in Texas were likely excited at the idea of having one of their favorite college stars back.
But the San Antonio Commanders don’t need him, so they released his rights. That meant Johnny Football was going to hit the waiver wire giving the worst team in the AAF the chance to pick him up—which the Memphis Express was more than happy to do.
With how ineffective Christian Hackenberg was and the injury to Zach Mettenberg, it is likely just a matter of time before the Express give Manziel a shot. But for the time being, the Express will be going with their third-string quarterback, Brandon Silvers.
“We just have to see how it goes, but Brandon Silvers is definitely the starting quarterback,” Express head coach Mike Singletary said. “We’ll see how Johnny progresses, but we’re very confident in Brandon.”
It would have been shocking to see the Express start Manziel since he hasn’t been with the team for a full week while Silvers has been with the club all season. While Silvers may not have received much time with the first time prior to this week, he will be more familiar with the offense.
However, the excitement that Manziel brings is undeniable. Fans will hope to see the exciting, dynamic version of Johnny Football emerge. Many more will be watching with hopes of seeing another former star crash and burn (again).
Should he play well, he could ignite the second-worst scoring offense in the AAF (15 points/game through Week Six; Atlanta Legends are averaging just 12 points/game). If he does, the Express could sneak up on some teams in the final weeks of the season and win some games. But could they become contenders?
The odds (via Bovada as of March 22) are heavily against the Express winning the championship heading into Week Seven:
- Orlando Apollos +120
- Arizona Hotshots +400
- Birmingham Iron +450
- San Antonio Commanders +500
- San Diego Fleet +750
- Salt Lake Stallions +2000
- Atlanta Legends +4000
- Memphis Express +15000
It would be a gambler’s dream to put money on a team with such odds and have it pay off. But for the Express to even have a shot, they are going to have to win out with games against the AAF’s best still on their schedule (Birmingham, Orlando, San Antonio, and Atlanta).
There is no way they overtake the Apollos for the East Division lead, but it is not impossible to see them overtake the Birmingham Iron. While the Iron is one of the better defensive teams in the league, their offense is far from impressive. However, they only need to go 2-2 down the stretch to secure their spot.
So, the answer to the question is easy. No, Manziel does not make Memphis a viable option for gamblers. The Express have a tough schedule and would need way too much help to even make the playoffs.
However, keep an eye on how productive Manziel is going forward. Should he start generating points, the Express might have a shot to beat a few point spreads down the stretch.