Will JaMarcus Russell Ever Start Again?
Al Davis has finally come to his senses. Well, at least regarding former first-overall pick JaMarcus Russell, whom the Raiders finally released Thursday afternoon. Russell’s release of course makes him a free agent and raises an obvious question — who wants him? My guess is a quarterback with a scouting report that includes more about buying jewelry, eating too much, and a lack of effort on the field than it does about physical abilities and on-field success will have a tremendous amount of trouble finding a suitor for his services — if you want to call them that.
The Raiders have shelled out more than $36 million to Russell since drafting him with their first overall selection in the 2007 Draft. They will pay him $3 million more this season after cutting him, but the move also saves them $6.45 million. Simply put, Russell should consider himself lucky he’s already made a fortune because no team is shelling out even close to big bucks to add him to their roster this off season, in this economy, with this type of uncertainty surrounding the NFL’s labor agreement.
Let’s have a little fun with this anyways. Is there a chance that any team would take a shot at adding perhaps the biggest NFL Draft bust this decade? Here’s a division-by-division quarterback analysis that might help shed a little light on whether or not Russell has even a fraction of a chance of being a starter in the NFL again.
AFC East: No need to talk about the Patriots or the Jets — they’re set for obvious reasons. The Dolphins are set with Chad Henne, and the acquisition of Brandon Marshall should make him look even better. I suppose the Bills don’t exactly have a great QB situation, and they reportedly are not going to add another QB before training camp. That leaves Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick, neither of whom has shown they can throw the ball down field. We know if there’s one thing JaMarcus can do (and it’s probably the only thing he can do) it’s throw the ball a mile. Still, the Bills chances of bringing him in are about 1%.
AFC North: All set. Flacco and Palmer are obviously mainstays. Roethlisberger looks like he’ll still be the guy in Pittsburgh when he’s done serving his suspension, despite a completely disgraceful off season. The Browns are taking their chances with Delhomme and can ill afford to make more mistakes at the quarterback position. No suitors here.
AFC South: Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub are two of the best in the NFL. Vince Young proved he can win last season, surprising a lot of people in the process. David Garrard has been solid in Jacksonville and they seem comfortable with him. Again, no space.
AFC West: The Chargers are obviously set with Pro-Bowler Philip Rivers. Jason Campbell was brought in to Oakland as Russell’s replacement. Kyle Orton is just fine right now as the guy in Denver, and as soon as he stumbles Brady Quinn is behind him waiting to prove he can start. After having what many believe to be a tremendous draft, the Chiefs are poised to turn their luck around and they have a ton of money invested in Matt Cassel in hopes that he can turn them around. Sorry, JaMarcus.
NFC East: Donovan McNabb’s the new starter in Washington because the Eagles have enough faith in up-and-comer Kevin Kolb. The Cowboys are obviously set with Tony Romo as are the Giants with Eli Manning. Count all of them out.
NFC North: Another division that’s pretty much set. The Bears believe they got their guy when they traded for Jay Cutler. Matthew Stafford could some day emerge as one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL if he can get some help. Aaron Rodgers is locked in in Green Bay. One question that remains — as usual — is will Brett Favre come back? If he does, the job is obviously his. If not, is JaMarcus an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson and/or Sage Rosenfels? Probably not. Sorry, definitely not.
NFC South: Matt Ryan is one of the best in the game, and he’s young. As of right now, Drew Brees’ Super Bowl MVP trophy says he’s the best until further notice. The Panthers will probably go with Matt Moore to start the season and when he screws up watch out for Jimmy Clausen. The Bucs invested a first rounder in Josh Freeman. Once again, nothing.
NFC West: The Seahawks still have Matt Hasselbeck — however old and beaten-down he may be. The Cardinals took a big hit when Kurt Warner retired, but they’ll try their luck with Matt Leinart and if not Derek Anderson will get a second chance to prove himself as a starter after being cut by the Browns. The Rams took Sam Bradford with their first overall pick in this year’s draft. The Niners are trying to solve their QB woes, so they took two offensive lineman with their two top-20 picks hoping to allow Alex Smith to get a bit more comfortable in their system. No reason for any of these teams to bring in Russell, either.
So there you have it. That may have been a tedious little exercise, but at least it spells out in plain English for you guys that no team in the NFL has any room for a guy like JaMarcus Russell. If he plans to ever play again, he’ll certainly be a second-string QB and maybe even a third-string. I’d be shocked to see him ever start a game again one way or another, to be quite honest.