The Cincinnati Bengals are one of a few teams that should absolutely sign JaMarcus Russell—the former No. 1 overall pick—if he can get his body and mind into football shape.
Franchise quarterbacks don't grow on trees, as the NFL's perennial bottom-feeders know from experience. If Russell can completely commit to dedicating his life to football, he is a man who has the physical tools to become a dangerous NFL quarterback.
All Oakland Raiders jokes aside, Russell was considered by most scouts as a Round 1 talent coming out of LSU in 2007. He has a cannon for an arm and possesses an excellent frame that gives him the height he needs to see over the line and the athleticism he needs to escape pressure.
He's also being tutored by former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, who knows a thing or two about playing the position and who overcame a lot of personal odds himself in his years in the league.
Unfortunately, most teams don't have the time or roster space to gamble on someone who currently weighs in somewhere around the 308-pound mark (h/t Yahoo! Sports' Kristian Dyer).
The teams that can take a chance on him need to have a decent starting quarterback already in place who won't wither and die like Mark Sanchez did with Tim Tebow behind him. Additionally, these teams will need to have the patience to deal with Russell's learning curve.
So which teams should take a chance on Russell?
Andy Dalton is a serviceable quarterback, but in two years, questions remain about his ability to lead the Bengals offense against playoff-caliber defenses.
The team features one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL in A.J. Green, who has the speed to get behind opposing secondaries with regularity. Cincinnati also features a terrific young offensive line and an offensive coordinator that isn't afraid to lean on his running game when necessary.
Marvin Lewis has famously taken on some hard cases over the years. Recently, Adam "Pacman" Jones has found new life with Cincinnati, along with Vontaze Burfict and Andre Smith—who showed up so out of shape his rookie year, it was just embarrassing.
The two quarterbacks behind Dalton at this time are Bruce Gradkowski and Zac Robinson. Neither player is invaluable, and truth be told, neither one gives the Bengals a chance to win should Dalton get hurt.
If Russell were to come in and make his comeback bid with Cincinnati, Dalton's poise and competitiveness wouldn't allow him to "pull a Sanchez" and Russell could ease back into things without any pressure.
Nobody's taking Peyton Manning's job from him any time soon, so the Broncos could easily afford to bring on Russell for a summer to kick the tires.
Russell would be able to sit back and learn from the master, and if he's smart, he'd never leave Manning's side.
The Broncos have some young weapons on offense, too. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are both 25 years old, and they'll still be viable weapons when Manning retires.
If Russell does make a comeback and becomes the player the Raiders envisioned when they drafted him, he'd be able to step in after Manning leaves and lead an explosive offense. Combined with the team's burgeoning young defense, the Broncos could be a powerhouse in the AFC for years to come.
Kansas City Chiefs (If They Trade for Alex Smith)
The Alex Smith-to-Chiefs rumors have been flying around for weeks now, and since the Philadelphia Eagles renegotiated Michael Vick's contract, the rumors seem even more feasible (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter).
For my money, Smith would be a better option for Andy Reid and the Chiefs than the current crop of soon-to-be rookie quarterbacks. If he comes on board, Kansas City could draft offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the No. 1 overall pick.
Adding Smith would bring stability to the Chiefs offense for at least a couple of years, during which time Russell could begin his comeback as Smith's understudy—not a bad gig, considering how well it worked out for Colin Kaepernick.
Which team should take a chance on Russell?
Smith apparently coached Kaepernick more than Jim Harbaugh did in 2012 (h/t Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith), and while he may not be as illustrious a teacher as the senior Manning brother, he'd be great for Russell.
The Chiefs have some excellent players already on the roster at the skill positions, and if Russell's comeback bid were to be successful, he'd have plenty of weapons to work with once he was ready to take over.
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