Here's how long Johnny Manziel could be suspended if he returns to the NFL

If Johnny Manziel ever makes the decision to return to the NFL, he might have to wait awhile before he can actually play.

Despite the fact that he reached a tentative settlement with prosecutors in Texas to dismiss his domestic-violence assault case, Manziel could still be hit with a six-game suspension by the NFL.

An NFL spokesman confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday that Manziel's domestic violence case is still under investigation by the league.

Even if prosecutors agree to dismiss the charge, the NFL can punish Manziel under the league's domestic violence policy. Manziel was arrested in January after an incident with his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley.

Crowley's attorney alleges that Manziel ruptured her eardrum during the altercation. Crowley also alleges that Manziel struck her several times and threatened to kill them both. Manziel has denied any wrongdoing.

From the NFL's point of view, the case being dismissed wouldn't necessarily mean anything in relation to a potential punishment from the league. Under the NFL's domestic violence policy, a player doesn't necessarily have to be formally charged with a crime or punished by the justice system in order to be punished by the NFL.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is another player who's currently being investigated by the NFL over an alleged incident of domestic violence. Elliott was involved in two situations, but has been legally cleared in both cases. Despite that, the league is still investigating and could punish the Cowboys running back.

As for Manziel, if he were to sign with a team at any point over the next few months, he would likely miss almost half of the 2017 season. Before the 2016 season started, the NFL's chief disciplinary officer, Todd Jones, told ESPN.com that Manziel would have a suspension waiting for him if he signed with anyone.

"If a club ever rolls the dice and brings him on board, he's got a six-game suspension that's hanging right now," Jones said.

That means if the Browns wanted to re-sign him, he likely wouldn't be on the field until Week 7 of 2017 at the earliest. And before you laugh at the Browns re-signing him, here's a friendly reminder that Manziel was the last quarterback to win a game for the currently 0-10 Browns.

If Manziel does get suspended over the domestic violence case, it would be the second suspension of his career. The former Browns quarterback was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season -- even though he was out of the league -- for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. That suspension was lifted by the NFL in October.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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