Johnny Manziel is inching closer to a return to professional football in 2018.
The troubled quarterback hasn't played pro football since being cut by the Cleveland Browns while under investigation for domestic assault following the 2015 season, but the Canadian Football League is open to the idea of Manziel suiting up in 2018.
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie issued a statement Thursday, explaining that the league is prepared to approve a contract for Manziel. His CFL rights are currently owned by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who have now been given the green light to sign or trade away his rights. This decision follows an extensive investigation into Manziel's troubled past to determine his eligibility with the league.
"It has included an ongoing assessment by an independent expert on the issue of violence against women, a review by legal counsel, and an in-person interview of Mr. Manziel conducted by the Commissioner," the statement reads. "As well, Mr. Manziel has been required to meet a number of conditions set by the league. As a result of this process, the Commissioner has now informed Mr. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats he is prepared to approve a contract for Mr. Manziel should one be negotiated."
Earlier this month, Ambrosie spoke highly of Manziel in an interview with ESPN, following a meeting with the unsigned quarterback. "He represented himself incredibly well," Ambrosie noted. "He was thoughtful. I found him to be authentic and sincere. I also felt like he seems to have come to a good place in his life. He was talking a lot about his family. Now, I should say that's part of the problem. My bias is toward family. So when I'm with somebody in there talking about my family, immediately I feel good about the conversation."
The Tiger-Cats released a short statement following the CFL's announcement Thursday afternoon, thanking Ambrosie for his decision.
"We appreciate the CFL office and Commissioner Randy Ambrosie's due diligence in this matter," the Tiger-Cats stated. "We also recognize Johnny Manziel for thus far demonstrating the attributes necessary to continue his career in our great league."
The team has yet to provide an update on their interest in signing Manziel, however. Manziel has remained quiet on the matter, as well.
As recently as July, Manziel was still eyeing a return to the NFL, revealing that he had "a couple conversations with some teams." Nothing has materialized out of those talks, however. The CFL appears to be Manziel's most likely path to a pro football comeback.