Retired NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson issued a controversial statement that created quite a stir when he said that former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel could be an heir-apparent to New England Patriots veteran signal-caller Tom Brady. Burleson told NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” that the Patriots could bring in Manziel to give current backup Brian Hoyer some competition for the spot. Burleson said having Hoyer as a backup is not an ideal long-term option for the team, saying the Patriots need someone athletic like Manziel as a backup and possible replacement for the 40-year-old Brady once he decides to retire.

Earlier, Brady declared his intention to play until he’s 45 years old, giving the Patriots enough time to develop an heir-apparent. Burleson said Manziel, given the proper training and guidance, could fill that role. Burleson, who played for the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks in his 12 seasons in the NFL, said the Patriots would be an ideal place for Manziel to revive his failed pro football career.

A Heisman Trophy winner in 2012, Manziel was seen by the Browns as a franchise quarterback when they drafted him 22nd overall in the 2014 NFL draft out of Texas A&M. However, Manziel was a disappointment for the Browns, going just 2-6 as starter. In his rookie year, Manziel threw for 175 yards and two interceptions in four games.

The next year, Manziel started six games for the Browns, throwing for 1,500 yards and seven touchdowns with five picks. Manziel’s stint with the Browns was marred by off-field troubles, forcing the team to release him in 2016.

Manziel ready to become Brady’s backup

When asked by celebrity website TMZ, the 25-year-old Manziel said he’s very much willing to take the backup role with the Patriots.

“I’ll go to New England in a heartbeat," said Manziel. The former Heisman Trophy winner said he will feel no pressure replacing Brady, saying it’s an honor to learn from the GOAT. Manziel is also a known Patriots fan, as he was spotted wearing the team’s jersey while attending the AFC Championship Game between New England and the Pittsburgh Steelers two years ago.

Manziel willing to play for free

Recently, Manziel declared that he’s willing to play in the NFL for free, just to get an opportunity to prove himself after two disappointing years in the league. Also, Manziel told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he will join The Spring League, a scouting and showcase event that will be held in Austin, Texas from March 28 through mid-April.