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Former Oakland Raiders No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell gets his first shot at returning to the NFL on Friday when he visits the Chicago Bears for a workout that will include two other quarterbacks, according to an NFL source with knowledge of the situation.
Having shed a reported 50 pounds in recent months, Russell has drawn interest from multiple teams, including the Bears, who would like to obtain a current evaluation of the quarterback. Initially, the Bears weren't interested in taking a look at Russell, and one source believed nobody in the NFL would take the quarterback's comeback seriously until he shed a significant amount of weight.
Now that Russell weighs a reported 265 pounds -- his weight when the Raiders made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 -- the Bears want to give the quarterback an opportunity.
That doesn't mean a signing would be imminent if Russell produced a strong performance during the workout. With three quarterbacks already on the roster in Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and Matt Blanchard, the Bears are contemplating whether they want to bring in a fourth quarterback to take to training camp. Currently, the team likes what it already has on the roster, and isn't looking to bring in a fourth quarterback. Given the fluidity regarding personnel around the league, the team could change its mind.
The Chicago Tribune reported the other two quarterbacks who will participate in the workout are Trent Edwards and Jordan Palmer, also members of the 2007 draft class.
In addition to bringing in Russell, Edwards and Palmer, the Bears plan to work out several veterans at multiple positions as they continue to evaluate how to best fill the back end of their roster. By putting together up-to-date evaluations on several veteran players, including Russell, the Bears will have gathered a short list of vets they can call in the event of an injury.
NFL Network reported Russell would like to sign with a team where he can learn under a veteran quarterback. If Russell doesn't sign with an NFL team within the next 30 to 45 days, he also would be open to signing with a CFL team.
In April, former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, who is working with Russell, called Chicago and Arizona ideal fits for Russell, who told Yahoo! Sports he didn't want to be remembered as a "bust." Russell is currently working at the TEST Football Academy with Garcia, who is working with him on technique, and Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, who is helping the quarterback at reading defenses. Russell is also working with several other former players, doctors and trainers.
Russell hasn't played a down of football in the NFL since 2009, and won just seven of 25 starts during his career in Oakland. Russell received approximately $39 million in three seasons in Oakland, and has completed 52.1 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and a passer rating of 65.2.
In 2010, authorities charged Russell with felony possession of a controlled substance, a drink containing codeine cough syrup, when officers raided his home that July. A grand jury declined to indict the quarterback later that year on those charges.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.