The Canadian Press
“Johnny Football” is on the move.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats dealt quarterback Johnny Manziel and offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice to the Montreal Alouettes yesterday for Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman and receiver Chris Williams, as well as 2020 and 2021 first-round picks.
Manziel, 25, made headlines across North America when he signed a two-year contract with Hamilton prior to the start of training camp.
The former Heisman Trophy winner appeared in both of the Ticats’ exhibition games–completing 21-of-31 passes for 168 yards and a TD while rushing six times for 19 yards–but didn’t see any regular-season action backing up incumbent Jeremiah Masoli.
Masoli started the season impressively with four-straight 300-yard passing performances and a record-tying nine overall dating back to last year.
But that streak ended with Thursday night’s 31-20 home loss to Saskatchewan as Masoli completed 20-of-28 passing for just 184 yards and an interception.
And that prompted some football pundits to suggest it was time for Manziel to get some playing time with Hamilton.
“Professional salute & respect for @Ticats @ticatmitchell &Coach Jones for doing the rgt thing.Thank y’all for the opp &great luck in future!” Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, tweeted last night.
With the departure of Manziel, Dane Evans, a rookie from Tulsa, becomes Masoli’s backup.
Hamilton (2-3) hosts the Ottawa Redblacks (3-2) this Saturday afternoon in a battle of the East Division’s top two teams.
Shortly after the deal was made, Hamilton announced it would give away $100 vouchers to fans who bought a Manziel Ticats’ jersey to purchase “new gear” for Saturday’s game at Tim Hortons Field.
The trade reunites Manziel with Montreal head coach Mike Sherman, who convinced Manziel to play at Texas A&M after he verbally committed to Oregon.
As a red-shirt freshman, Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for 1,410 yards and 21 TDs en route to winning the 2012 Heisman Trophy.
The six-foot, 210-pound Manziel was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL draft but was released in March, 2016 after posting a 2-6 record over two tumultuous campaigns.
He appeared in 14 games overall, throwing for 1,675 yards and seven TD passes.
Montreal (1-4) has scored a league-low 69 points this season while allowing a league-high 148 points.
What’s more, starter Drew Willy suffered his second injury of the season in Saturday night’s 25-8 loss to the Calgary Stampeders, leaving Sherman to go with third-stringer Matt Shiltz for three quarters of the game.
Backup Jeff Mathews, who replaced Willy earlier this season, also is out four-to-six weeks with a foot injury.
Montreal next takes on the Edmonton Eskimos (3-2) this Thursday night.
“We have acquired an exceptional quarterback with undeniable talent,” Montreal GM Kavis Reed said in a statement.
“With his great mobility, his athletic abilities, and his instinct, we believe that he will have a positive impact on our offence.
“Landon Rice and Tony Washington are two skilled players that will considerably solidify our offensive line,” he added.
The 6’7″, 318-pound Washington, a nine-year veteran, fills a need for Montreal, which recently released starting tackle Fulton Xavier.