The Bucs, Johnny Football, and the Art of the Smokescreen


Sep 7, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs onto the field before a game against the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about Johnny Manziel and the reports that have linked him to the Buccaneers.

After all, there have been about four of them already, and all have come in quick succession. The most recent came yesterday from ESPN’s Ed Werder.

Many of our readers have already chimed in by saying what I’m about to repeat to you all now: there is a good chance that all this Johnny Football talk coming from One Buc Place is just one big smokescreen.

For those that are novices to the draft and the buildup that precedes it, a smokescreen can be defined as a tactic (usually taking the form of leaked information reported by the media) that teams use to hide their true intentions.

In the Buccaneers’ case, Johnny Manziel could be their smokescreen.

If that really is the truth behind these recent Manziel-to-Bucs rumors, then Tampa Bay really doesn’t want the former Aggies quarterback at all. Instead, they are using him, and the hype around him, to persuade other teams that they would have to trade with, or in front of, the Bucs in order to get Johnny Football. That could free up the Buccaneers to take the player they actually covet, and not the one they’ve been linked to in the reports.

Take the 2012 NFL draft as a reference point. The Bucs were linked with one player, and one player only, in that draft: CB Morris Claiborne. Every possible rumor and report that leaked through the media pointed towards the Buccaneers drafting cornerback and nothing else.

What did the Bucs do? They let the Cowboys take Claiborne, traded down, and took Mark Barron instead. They also gained an extra pick from that trade. What did they do with it? They used the extra ammo to trade back into the first round to draft Doug Martin.

While these reports could be factual, also keep in mind that it could all be a big hoax to entice someone else to jump into their spot. The Bucs already have two capable quarterbacks on their roster, and have bigger needs in the short term.

Is it too obvious to be a true smokescreen? Possibly. But these are the things we won’t find out until draft night. Until then, all we have are these reports, and what we can derive from them.

Think the Manziel reports are just a smokescreen? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter (@ThePewterPlank). Also, keep participating in our Johnny Manziel poll below!