JaMarcus Russell Comeback: Five Potential Suitors
According to Yahoo! Sports, former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell has re-dedicated himself to football and has been working towards making an NFL comeback.
Russell last played in the NFL in 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. Over his three seasons with Oakland, Russell threw for just over 4,000 yards while completing just over 52 percent of his passes. He also threw 18 touchdowns with 23 picks. So, yep, he was pretty atrocious.
Russell ballooned to somewhere near 530 pounds and quickly fell out of favor with then-coach Tom Cable. The team released him prior to the 2010 season.
Work ethic has always been something of a question with Russell, which is why he hasn’t sniffed an NFL roster since being dumped by the Raiders. However, if he really has trimmed-down and gotten his head straight, perhaps there’s a chance he can salvage his career.
He’s got a cannon for an arm, and, while accuracy has always been a question mark, teams obviously believe a talent like that can be coached up and turned into something special. He’s also still just 27.
So, if Russell does make this comeback, which teams might be interested? Let’s run through a few.
Just kidding. I’ve got jokes! But, this is the Raiders, so you never know.
When the quarterbacks on your roster are Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer, you don’t really have a quarterback, do you?
Arizona has quite a bit of money invested in Kolb, but he’s been hurt so often since his acquisition that we still don’t really know what to make of him as a potential starting-caliber NFL quarterback. Skelton had another chance last year, and was eventually benched in favor of the rookie Lindley, who was probably the league’s worst quarterback when he played last year.
Hoyer has bounced around a bit and started Arizona’s season finale against San Francisco. He’s probably not a real candidate here.
Meanwhile, as the Cardinals are shuffling around from mediocre QB to mediocre QB, Larry Fitzgerald is standing around wasting away in the prime of his career. Pretty sad.
So, it would seem doubtful that new head coach Bruce Arians would want to bring in Russell as some sort of reclamation project with Fitzgerald going to waste. One would expect a team like this, with a very solid, young defense in place already, to look for a more established signal-caller this offseason. Perhaps someone like Alex Smith, should San Francisco cut him free.
At no point during his brief pro career has Blaine Gabbert looked like he has what it takes to be a starting pro player. Chad Henne is better, but we’ve seen Chad Henne before, and we know what he is. Spot-starter, high-end backup at best, right?
There isn’t a lot of skill position talent on this roster outside of Maurice Jones-Drew, but we did see solid flashes from young receivers Justin Blackmon (2012′s first-round pick) and Cecil Shorts, who nearly gained 1,000 yards last season. Marcedes Lewis (remember him?) also caught 10 touchdown passes a few years ago, so he’s not a total spare.
It sure doesn’t look like the Jaguars are particularly close to meaningful contention in the AFC, so perhaps they’d be interested in a developmental project like Russell. I mean, they’ve already told us Tim Tebow isn’t coming to town.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, but this draft doesn’t appear to have any quarterback prospects worthy of being selected first overall. So, the Chiefs could either trade down and get a QB slightly lower, or take another position with the top choice.
Russell, with his general lack of accuracy, isn’t an ideal fit in Andy Reid’s dink-and-dump style offense, so perhaps this wouldn’t be an ideal destination. However, we did see another passer with a similar passing skill set (big arm, sketchy accuracy), Michael Vick, enjoy a bit of success with Reid. Obviously, Vick’s mobility certainly helped out quite a bit there. Russell isn’t one to do much moving outside the pocket, as we know.
The current Chiefs quarterbacks are Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. So, honestly, the name “JaMarcus Russell” can’t sound that much worse.
New York Jets
The 2012 New York Jets season was basically the football version of the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers season. They came into it with big aspirations, but pretty much everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong.
They brought in Tim Tebow with big hype, with Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano reportedly coming up with all sorts of packages in which to use him. Variations of the wildcat, etc. However, as we know, Tebow was hardly used at all, as the coaching staff never truly trusted him or believed him to be a worthy starter.
Mark Sanchez was absolutely horrific last season, and was, at one point, benched in favor of initial third-stringer Greg McElroy for a game. The Jets are expected to dump Tebow, but they still owe Sanchez big money after taking him fifth overall in 2009. So, cutting him while still paying him something in the neighborhood of $8 million doesn’t seem too likely.
Surely, New York will be in the market for one of the more proven QB commodities, such as the aforementioned Alex Smith or maybe even Michael Vick. The upcoming season has the looks of a make-or-break one for Rex Ryan, so he’s not likely to put all of his hopes on the shoulders of a project like Russell.
New Orleans Saints
Obviously, it’s unlikely that Russell is able to obtain a starting job anywhere in the league, and he surely isn’t supplanting Drew Brees.
The recently-reinstated Sean Payton said after Russell was cut in 2010 that the timing at that point wouldn’t have been right for the Saints to consider bringing Russell, the former LSU standout, back to Louisiana.
Russell could theoretically benefit from the tutelage of both Brees and Payton, and they could casually bring him along as something of a side project. Surely, receiving consistent attention and coaching from a “quarterback guru” type like Sean Payton would help Russell tremendously.