Manziel got his first start in Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals, going 10-18 for 80 yards and two interceptions in a 30-0 loss.
He finished the season completing 18 of 35 passes for 175 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 29 yards and one rushing touchdown for Cleveland, who have missed the playoffs in each of the last 12 seasons.
Manziel, the Browns' first round pick in 2014, has been in a treatment facility since late January and is expected to leave rehab this month. Browns general manager Ray Farmer said that it is possible that Manziel could join the team for offseason workouts, which start April 20.
Thomas says that when Manziel returns he is going to have to prove to the locker room that football is a priority.
“You know, I think he lost probably a lot of trust among the guys on the team last year by the way he handled himself once he became the starter,” Thomas said to ESPNCleveland.com. "And I think he had a lot of time to reflect, I’m guessing, after the season was over by the comments he made in the media and by his actions, checking himself into rehab … I think those were really positive steps."
ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen said on ESPN Radio last week that the team might be ready to give up on Manziel.
"The bottom line is that Johnny Manziel’s future with the Browns has been in question," Mortensen said. "When they were putting together half of a new offensive staff, Manziel’s name barely even came up in conversation.”
Thomas, an eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time first team AP All-Pro, says Manziel’s actions will ultimately determine his future with the team.
“Yeah. Everyone wants to talk the good talk in the media, and that includes Josh Gordon, but it’s your actions that really are telling to your teammates about if you really mean what you say,” Thomas said.
- Scooby Axson