The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft is ready for a comeback.
Yes, JaMarcus Russell is down to a svelte 308 pounds and is looking to squeeze onto an NFL roster. The former LSU quarterback -- turned hot draft prospect by Charlie Weis’ Sugar Bowl defense -- says he is committed to the sport and to shedding the bust tag, telling Yahoo! Sports: “The last few years, the things going through my life, football is my job and it is how it feeds my family.” (Tip for JaMarcus: In this image-makeover attempt, try to limit all mentions of feeding.)
Russell, who was drafted ahead of Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch and Darrelle Revis -- go Raiders! -- hasn’t played in the NFL since Oakland released him after the 2009 season, and the leaguewide trend is toward mobile quarterbacks, not offensive lineman with strong throwing arms. Yet some NFL teams could still give Russell a look. Here they are:
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. Yikes. Russell is rightfully considered a draft bust, but look at the quarterbacks picked after him: Quinn, Kevin Kolb, John Beck, Drew Stanton and Trent Edwards. You couldn’t go right picking a quarterback in 2007. It was everything that 2012 wasn’t. So maybe Andy Reid wants to come in and shake things up.
How would Russell and his cannon arm do in Reid’s short-pass offense? Oh, quite terribly. Russell has no touch. But neither does Michael Vick, and Reid bet his entire Eagles future on him. If the Chiefs hope to rebuild by earning high draft picks for several more years, Russell deserves consideration.
When Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton and Kolb are your options, you have to be willing to try someone/anyone else. New head coach Bruce Arians has had success with both a No. 1 overall pick (Andrew Luck) and a “big-boned” quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger). Maybe he’s the JaMarcus whisperer. Maybe not. But the Cardinals could do worse. In fact, they have. Every snap. Every week of the season.
New York Jets
JaMarcus Russell! What a joke, right? One of the worst quarterbacks ever!
Fun facts: In 2008, Russell started 15 games and had a 77.1 quarterback rating and 35.3 Total QBR. In 2012, Mark Sanchez started 15 games and had a 66.9 quarterback rating and 23.4 Total QBR. When a team as bad as the Jets has a chance to get a clearly superior quarterback, they have to do it.
Sorry, Jaguars fans, but Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne aren’t the answer and Tim Tebow isn’t ever going to Jacksonville. But if you can't get Tebow, would you be interested in JaMarcus instead? Tebow is a former SEC quarterback who many think should play another position (tight end or fullback) in the NFL, and Russell is a former SEC quarterback who many think should play another position (offensive lineman or cautionary tale) in the NFL. They’re basically the same person! Make it happen, Jaguars.
Every quarterback on Buffalo’s roster -- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyler Thigpen and Tarvaris Jackson -- is a failed NFL starting quarterback. Russell clearly fits Buffalo’s system.
Russell is two years younger than Brandon Weeden and has thrown for more career yards and touchdowns. There’s really not even a debate here.
Is there anyone left who still thinks Jay Cutler can win a Super Bowl? Maybe new head coach Marc Trestman can bring the best out in Russell. Trestman comes from the CFL, and many people think Russell is a CFL quarterback. Perfect fit.
One downside: Chicago has cold winters. Cough medicine is readily available, so the Bears would have to keep Russell away from that. But other than that purple warning flag, Russell’s name would not look out of place among all the other starting quarterbacks in Chicago Bears' history.
Jerry Jones hired Monte Kiffin as his defensive coordinator. You can’t say that signing Russell wouldn’t be a very Jerry Jones thing to do.
Look, it simply didn’t work out with Peyton Manning. He came in and, unlike his predecessor, couldn’t even win a playoff game. Say what you will about Russell, but he doesn’t have Manning’s track record of playoff failure.
Whoever drafts Manti Te’o
Eventually -- probably somewhere late in the second or third round -- an NFL general manager is going to sigh and decide to take a flier on Te’o. But if a team is going to have Te’o in its camp, it's going to need a big sideshow to take attention away from the fake elite linebacker. And JaMarcus Russell is as big as they come.