The Cowboys Will Forever Regret Passing On Johnny Manziel

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May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) poses for photos with commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number twenty-two overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” ― Tacitus

For some Dallas Cowboys fans, it was 1998 all over again. Just like the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones passed on future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss in the first round of that year’s draft, they also passed on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft. Will the Cowboys ultimate demise be the tale of two passes? Heartbreak for some. Adjudication for others. So is the life of being a die-hard Cowboys fan.

If Manziel becomes the next great quarterback in the NFL, Dallas will forever regret this draft. If he simply becomes the next Tim Couch, the naysayers will tell you that they “told you so”. And they knew it all along. That’s how these things usually shake out.

One thing is for certain though. Dallas did pass on Johnny Football. They could have had him at No. 16. Instead, Dallas went with the safe pick: Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin. Manziel eventually landed in Cleveland six picks later.

Romo plays just well enough to keep us in the playoff hunt. But he makes just enough mistakes to keep us out of the postseason.
But in three years, after Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is fired and quarterback Tony Romo retires due to injury, the Martin pick may be of little comfort to Dallas fans. Especially if Manziel is making regular Pro Bowl appearances. And that could very well be the reality as Dallas faces an uphill battle in 2014 just based upon their tough schedule.The fact the team is unlikely to make the playoffs once again means Garrett should last past 2014. But hey, he’s made it this far. And Romo is not getting any younger. Currently, he’s 34 with two back “procedures” in less than a year. I’ll give him two more years, prime or not.

On top of everything else, throw in the fact Dallas still has not addressed their team’s main issue, defense.

Martin fills a minor immediate need that might have become a major need after this year. That was all dependent upon the play of right tackle Doug Free, who is in the final year of his contract. But the fact is, the Cowboys have tackle Jeremy Parnell on the bench and could have played him at right tackle and moved Free to guard. Now it appears, with Martin in the fold, Dallas might lose both veteran players to free agency in 2014.

Although choosing Manziel instead still of Martin would not address the Cowboys bigger issues, Johnny’s selection would have marked a positive shift in the Cowboys “win now” mentality. The problem with a “win now” mentality is that there is never a “win later” strategy. There is never any forward-thinking. No real planning for the future. That lack of vision led to the Cowboys current situation.

Dallas was ill-equipped to replace quarterback Troy Aikman back in 2000 when he suddenly retired due to a back injury. That in-turn lead to several years of losing and searching before lucking finding undrafted free agent quarterback Tony Romo and finally starting him in 2006. Legendary running back Emmitt Smith was replaced by Troy Hambrick. The back-up Hambrick lasted a whole year before he was released. Now, the Cowboys lack of vision has led them to replace All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware with Jeremy Mincey? That’s what happens when you don’t plan ahead.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones Johnny Manziel Tony Romo

  • Craig

    I thought there was a clause in Romo’s contract that has him un-tradable, un-releasable, un-anything for the next two seasons. If Manzy was so integral to the ‘win now’ successes of the Cowboys, then are you implying that they would just bench Romo? A guy making $17 mil and sitting on the bench? I don’t think that makes much sense. I get the draw and desire for JF, but seems like the ‘Boys are locked in with Romo for some time.

    • David

      The funny thing with Romo is he has been a top qb in the league for years. The Cowboys dont win 5 games without him last year. Other than his back issue that should be corrected, he should have at least two to three more years at a high level of play and then they will be able to have the abiltiy to move on from his contract like Wares.

      • PaulTX

        Especially now that he has help in the middle of his line, that is clearly the weakest link.

  • Rich

    The problem is Romo’s ridiculous contract. This is a reminder of how one mistake can affect you for years. Can’t afford free agents. Can’t afford to sign your own players like Ware and Hatcher(even when they are willing to take less here) and have to pass on a difference maker in the draft. All because of the most ridiculous contract in sports history. All for a guy with a knack for snatching defeat out of victory in the most amazing ways.

    • David

      They could have kept Ware and Hatcher but chose wisely not to pay aging and one year wonder players. JJ is seemingly learning how to succeed in the salary cap NFL.

    • Russ

      Romo is an excellent QB, but they did overpay. Jerry’s ignorance runs deep, from overpaying to poor drafts. Ware and Hatcher are old and done…just watch this year…we didn’t lose much there. The worst Jerrah move of all (which is hard to pinpoint among so many) was the brain fart of all time trading away 2 first round and a couple of seonds and thirds, not to mention paying outlandish money to one of the most overrated WRs of all time — the great Roy Williams!!!

  • David

    Zach Martin will play in the league three times longer than Manziel and go to more pro bowls. Manziel is so over hyped its ridiculous.

  • Old Frog

    “In 3 years after head coach Jason Garrett is fired?” I disagree. Garrett is part of the family. He’s Stephen and Jerry’s guy. He’s as likely to be around another 15 years as he is to be fired in 3. Thanks to NFL parity the Lombardi days of “winning is the only thing” are over. It’s about being competitive and staying relevant. Garrett is a big picture guy and like it or not, I’m pretty sure he’s in Dallas for a long time to come. Don’t be surprised if he gets a big extension before the first game of the season.

  • SmartThinking

    Although I disagree with your argument, the downside on Manziel far outweighs any potential upside, this season or down the road. Twenty one football guys a whole lot smarter than you or me passed on Manziel last night and they didn’t do it to be contrary. You see Manziel as the next Staubach or Aikman while just as many experts on the position see him as another Tebow. Sure, Tebow and Manziel both won HT’s and both were great college stars. But that doesn’t always transfer to the bigs. Johnny’s in the perfect place for who he is. Nobody expects Cleveland to be much anyway so, if Manziel helps them, then, he’s the hero. And, if he falls flat in Cleveland, well, not even Johnny Football could help that crumbly franchise.

  • GLA67

    Yep, if Manziel is the “real” deal, he wouldn’t have fallen to 16 in the first place. Your arguments above about Troy leaving the Cowboys and then they start losing is BS. The defense was no longer dominant, regardless of the offense’s issues. Such one-sided crap.

    • Russ


  • bumpandrun

    I believe you will forever regret writing this article…LOL

  • Dave

    The fact of the matter is if the defense last year was even average they would have been at least 10-6, possibly 11-5 or 12-4 with a little luck. In the 7 losses Romo played in he threw 17 TD’s against 3 int’s, so tell me how he was the problem. I wanted no part of Manziel in the first round, maybe if he magically fell to them in the second, but not in the first, and there were no defensive players of value at 16. Does Martin fill a “glaring” need? No. But he makes an already good line even better, and potentially sets the foundation for the next great wall of Dallas, so that was a future pick as well as immediate help. They now have three rock solid young players to anchor that line for the next decade plus.

    The only potential defenders worth that pick would maybe have been one of the safeties, but, honestly, I’m not sold on either of them, and I’m not ready to give up on guys after one year. I liked the potential I saw in Wilcox and I’m willing to give him at least this season yet. The nice thing is a lot of d linemen got pushed down the board, although I was disheartened to see Easley go to the Pats, but they should be able to get a couple of solid guys there tonight.

    Bottom line is give me the steak over the sizzle. Manziel may turn out to be great, he certainly has the talent around him in Cleveland (Wow, did I just say that?) to succeed, but he just wasn’t the right pick at the right time for Dallas. They obviously wanted to trade back badly as evidenced by the shot of the war room with about four minutes left on the clock and they were all just sitting around, not talking, just waiting for the phone to ring, and when that didn’t happen, they turned in the card for who I thought was the best value pick for them at that time. If you really want Johnny Manziel, then root for them to pick Brett Smith in the seventh. He’s Johnny football without the hype and he’s 6’2″.

    Now if Bortles had fallen to them I’d have banged the table to take him. I think he has the biggest upside, and wouldn’t have generated the immediate QB controversy that Manziel would have.

    • Scott Mattson

      Nice post, Dave. Add to all this the fact that the defense didn’t have a chance to show what it can do healthy, even just the players we’re not sure about, and this is already a “take the pain” type year. If we succeed, fine, if not, we get higher in the draft next time, while our young players mature. Besides, who says there won’t be a sleeper like Manziel in years to come. Finally, he just plain scares me. My alma mater LSU didn’t have much trouble controlling him. Too many questions.

      • Dave

        Totally. He may turn out to be a fine QB, but he scares me right now, and it would be an immediate firestorm from all the Romo haters out there that don’t realize just how good he actually is.

  • Old Frog

    Disappointed that Stephen, Jason, and McClay talked Jerry out of taking Manziel? Better get used to it. My crystal ball tells me those three are shaping up to be the Owner, HC, and GM for years to come.

  • true cowboys fan

    All i can say i enjoy your articles there funny lmao johnny manzeil c’mon man going to the pro bowl with the browns GO COWBOYS ! ! True Cowboys Fan for Life

    • Russ

      His nickname will be Johnny Bust in two years. No chance!

  • ghostofakid

    Steve, you are really full of crap. Would anyone in their right mind trade Romo for RGIII for next season? Not a chance. RGIII is already a history lesson. Running quaterbacks are great in college where there are only 1 or 2 defensive players they face each week that can keep up with them. In the NFL Everyone on the defense can keep up with them and when they get to them, it’s lights out.

    • Earl Robertson

      Kapernick has a different body kinda like Newton so they can take more hits. But griffin and Manziel don’t so like you said I don’t see Manziel being able to take the hits he is going to get if he runs more then he passes

  • Earl Robertson

    Dude you have to face reality! Romo is here to stay. You can say all you want about how you don’t like him and how Manziel is going to be the next great thing but reality is no way they could pick him because of romo contract. Reality also is Manziel with this fan base could not just sit on the bench. All you would hear every time cowboys have the ball is boos for romo and we want Johhny chants! So what do the cowboys do sit Romo for the rest of his career as a 55 million dollar backup?? Because of Romo cowboys had no choice but to pick Martin. Also you say that Jerry is listening to his scouts too much!!! Are you kidding me??? Jerry downfall was his sorry drafting over the years and now you are complaining that he is listening to someone that knows football more then he does. To me picking Martin made me more happy then gambling on Manziel because for the first time it seems like Jones is finally making smart decisions and that is the best news for us fans because now there is a ray of hope that we haven’t had since Jimmy

    • Russ

      Jerry will continue to screw up our drafts as long as he’s alive. You just can’t fix stupid. We’re stuck.

  • nowitzki41

    no we wont. this is the dumbest article on here ive ever seen. manziel would sit on the bench at least 4 years and his contract would be up. please, it would be a wasted pick

  • Keith Ranson

    Forever Regret…..

  • Greg Hill

    With romo still under contract, drafting another qb in the 1st rd would have been unwise. Yes, the pick will improve the offense and protect JJ’s investment in romo but the NFL’s worst defense still resides in Dallas. Unable to stop the run or rush the passer are the teams biggest problems.. Opponents will control the ball and the clock while romo and the rest of the offense watch the game on the sidelines. Otherwise, i couldn’ agree more.

    • Russ

      Correct. Where in the h— are the safeties? We don’t have one really decent one. Don’t drink the coolaid that Church is anything. Can’t cover my grandma. We haven’t had a safety since Woodson retired. Why won’t these dunces draft a stud safety? Heath is seriously probably the worst safety that’s every played a down in the NFL.