Johnny Manziel returns to football, signing two-year deal with CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Johnny Manziel is still holding out hope he will one day play in the NFL, but that day will not come in 2018, as the former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick is going to spend the coming season -- and likely two seasons -- playing professional football in Canada.

Manziel announced Saturday morning, via Barstool Sports (who he is partnering with on a podcast), his plans to sign with the Tiger-Cats, who offered him a two-year contract back in January in order to secure his rights long term.

"Here today to make a big announcement for my life. I am formally signing in the CFL. No. 1. I have decided to sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I'll be up here for what looks like two years," Manziel said on a video published by Dave Portnoy. "Getting back to playing ball, that's what it comes down to. That's what I've missed doing. I'm somewhere, I don't even know where, on the Canadian border. Trying to figure this whole thing out and figure out I guess how to play football in Canada. Big day for me. No longer unemployed, getting back to what I want to do. And I'm happy about it."

The quarterback also tweeted about the decision.

The way he's phrasing all of this makes it pretty clear there was not going to be an opportunity in the NFL without first going through the process of playing in Canada.

Manziel, once drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, revealed this offseason that he has been battling substance abuse issues as well as bipolar disorder and mental health issues. He's made significant strides in terms of his attempt to return to football, but there were going to be hurdles to overcome even once he cleaned up everything going on in his life.

The former first-round pick admitted the Canadian Football League was on the table depending on how NFL teams responded to his comeback efforts. He worked out at the University of San Diego's pro day this offseason and spent time playing in a developmental spring league, but teams, as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has reported on the Pick Six Podcast, need to see him handle a full season around teammates before being willing to buy in on Manziel's full comeback. 

Manziel has said he'd be willing to play for free, but that's more a euphemism for "I just want to be back in football." NFL teams simply are too wary of Manziel after he washed out of the league due to excessive partying and found himself in a messy legal situation involving allegations of domestic violence from his ex-girlfriend. Those charges were ultimately dismissed by a Texas judge.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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