Nate Burleson explains why Johnny Manziel to the Patriots could potentially work

After spending the past two years out of football, the return of Johnny Manziel is actually about to happen.  

In less than a month, the beleaguered quarterback will take the field in the Spring League, which bills itself as an elite D-league and NFL scouting event. Manziel will be on the field for two games in April, and after that, he's made it clear that he wants to get back to the NFL at some point. 

Although the idea of Manziel returning to the NFL might seem a little crazy, it's not that far-fetched. For one, he's still on the radar of several NFL teams. During an interview in February, Manziel revealed that multiple teams have expressed interest in him

So which team would be a good fit for Johnny Football?

Former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, who you can see on CBS' "The NFL Today" every Sunday during the NFL season, sees a scenario where Manziel could be a good fit for the Patriots. During a segment on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" on Friday, Burleson outlined exactly why the idea actually makes some sense. 

Before Manziel could sign in New England, though, the Patriots would need to know that he's actually committed to playing. Remember, this is the guy who went on a Las Vegas bender the night before a Browns game in January 2016

"One thing we do need to figure out before anybody puts on a Patriots uniform is: How much are you invested intellectually, and how much do you love the game emotionally?" Burleson said, via NESN.com. "We've seen guys go there that are halfway in love with the game and when they're halfway in love with the idea of being a Patriot, it doesn't really work out."

Another reason Burleson likes the idea is because it would put Manziel in a position where he's competing for a job that he might actually be able to win. 

"Johnny can go there for a reason that not a lot of people realize. He's not going to beat out Tom Brady, we all know that. I don't think there's any quarterback that can beat out Tom Brady as a free agent coming to the Pats," Burleson said. "But there's a competition that he would be confident in going into, and that's the second-string position, which is my guy Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer (and) Johnny Manziel both played together (with the Cleveland Browns), so that second-string competition will be as high as ever, and it also would be like a memory for both of them and the best man will prevail."

If you're a Patriots fan, would you rather have Manziel or Hoyer under center if Brady were to miss a game or two during the 2018 season? Actually, don't answer that question, because I don't want anyone in New England having a panic attack while thinking about the possibility of Brady missing a game due to injury. 

Although Manziel might bring a media circus with him if he ends up in New England, that probably won't bother Bill Belichick, who once signed Tim Tebow. The big thing Belichick would like about Manziel is that he comes cheaply. Johnny Football has already said he'd play for free, which means the Patriots could give him a contract that includes zero guaranteed dollars. 

With Manziel on the team, it also might actually be a welcoming distraction, since it would probably cut down on everyone asking Belichick why he benched Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. By the way, have we figured that out yet? I don't think we have. Anyway, moving on. 

Even if Manziel doesn't sign with the Patriots, there's still a chance he could end up back in the NFL. After playing in the Spring League in Texas next month, Johnny Football is leaving the door open for a possible move to the CFL, if that's his only option. 

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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