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Released by the Oakland Raiders earlier this month, former No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell is still without a job, and it appears the New England Patriots aren’t the least bit interested in offering him one.
Following his release by Oakland, it was widely agreed upon by those in and around the league that Russell’s career would best be served in a place like New Orleans, Indianapolis, or New England, where he could sit back, work on losing weight and improving his mechanics, and watch how a guy like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady goes to work everyday.
However, sources close to the team have reported that the Patriots have no interest in attempting to resurrect the young quarterback’s career. Oddly enough, the Pats’ decision to steer clear of Russell may have a lot to do with another former Raider quarterback, Andrew Walter. The Raiders released Walter in July 2009, then the Patriots signed him, and released him in September.
Like Russell, Walter had a very strong arm, but he lacked the fundamental skills required to play quarterback in the National Football League.
“It was like six things he was doing wrong on every play,” a Patriots source said of Walter. “It was impossible to coach him because there was too much to correct. … You just stood there and wondered, ‘What the heck happened to this guy?”
After the epic failure with the Walter experiment, it’s no wonder the Patriots aren’t interested in acquiring Russell, who obviously has a plethora of developmental issues himself. Now, those of us in New England will just have to wait and see if there’s another team willing to take a chance on him.
From both an on-field performance and financial perspective, it’s hard to argue JaMarcus Russell isn’t now the biggest draft flop in NFL history.
Russell had an illustrious career at Louisiana State University where he led the Tigers to the SEC Championship Game his Sophomore season, and the BCS Sugar Bowl his Junior season. He was named MVP of the Sugar Bowl, and he was also named all-SEC first team his Junior year.
After announcing that he would forego his Senior year to enter to the NFL Draft in January 2007, he was picked No. 1 overall by the Oakland Raiders. Russell got off to a horrible start in Oakland, failing to reach a contract agreement with the team, he held out all through training camp and the first week of the regular season before signing a six-year contract worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed.
Russell spent the majority of the 2007 season as a backup behind Josh McCown. He finished his rookie season completing 36 of 66 passes for 373 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions. At this point, it was far too early to judge the young quarterback, but big things were expected of him entering his second season.
Russell was named the starter for the opening game of the 2008 season. The Raiders were blown out by the Broncos 41-14, but Russell threw for 180 yards, two touchdowns, and had zero interceptions. However, 2008 would prove to be an up and down season for the young QB. In consecutive losses to Buffalo, San Diego, and New Orleans, he managed to throw just two touchdowns and saw his team lose four consecutive games to Baltimore, Atlanta, Carolina, and Miami later in the year. He finished the season strong with back-to-back wins over Houston and Tampa Bay, throwing for six touchdowns and 2 interceptions in his final three games.
Once again Russell was named the starter heading into the 2009 season, but he wouldn’t hold the spot very long. Following a November 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, head coach Tom Cable benched Russell indefinitely. Newly appointed starter Bruce Gradkowski led the team to two consecutive victories over the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers and it appeared Russell was on the bench for good. However, injuries to Gradkowski, and then Charlie Frye enabled Russell to get back on the field for the final game of the season. It was a season to forget for Russell. He finished with the lowest quarterback rating, lowest completion percentage, fewest passing touchdowns, and fewest passing yards among qualifying quarterbacks in the NFL.
Entering this offseason, more than ever, Russell needed to turn things around, and prove himself to all of the skeptics and critics. So what did he do? He showed up to minicamp weighing nearly 300 lbs. Yes you read that correctly; 300 lbs! We’re not talking about a defensive tackle hear folks, this was supposed to be the franchise quarterback. In April the Raiders acquired quarterback Jason Campbell from the Washington Redskins, and Russell, due to earn $9.45 million in 2010, was released by the team in May.
Things aren’t looking good for Russell, who is still without a job. Unfortunately for the 24 year old, it doesn’t appear that any teams are seriously considering signing him at this point. There were rumors circulating that a few teams were exploring the option of signing Russell and moving him to another position, but those rumors have yet to come to fruition.
Sources close to Russell reported earlier this week that he is heading to Arizona, where he plans on working to lose weight. Apparently, he plans on shedding at least 25 of the 300 lbs. before looking to sign with another franchise.