Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell's journey back to the gridiron hasn't culminated in him landing an NFL contract, but the former top pick is reportedly closer than ever to finishing his comeback.
According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, Russell has drawn "significant" interest from multiple teams across the league.
Rapoport was unable to disclose which teams have reached out to Russell due to conditions of anonymity, but he did say it was more than one NFL franchise.
Though teams have known for months that Russell, the Raiders' No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, is interested in making a comeback, they are reportedly starting to take his efforts more seriously after major signs of progress.
According to Rapoport, Russell has lost 50 pounds since beginning his comeback attempt and is down to 265 pounds—what he weighed at the combine six years ago:
Now 27 years old, Russell has been out of football since being cut by Oakland in May of 2010, following three disappointing seasons with the club. Thought to be the Raiders' next franchise quarterback, Russell started only 25 games with the club, compiling a 7-18 record, and he became known across the league as a talented yet frustrating player.
In his final season with the Raiders, Russell threw for only 1,287 yards and three touchdowns against 11 interceptions while completing only 48.8 percent of his throws. His QBR of 11.7 was the lowest among qualifying quarterbacks in 2009, per ESPN.
Three years later, though, Russell has embarked on a journey to fulfill his massive promise. He's been working out at the TEST Football Academy in San Diego and honing his skills as a quarterback with former Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia. Many media outlets, including Bleacher Report NFL lead writer Aaron Nagler, have been covering Russell's road to redemption.
With Russell back down to playing weight and looking strong in throwing sessions, the interest around the league is understandable. Rapoport noted that Russell's ideal situation is sitting behind a veteran NFL quarterback to learn and get reacclimated to the game and that he's willing to try the CFL if NFL teams fail to extend a formal offer.
That being said, Russell will certainly pique teams' interest due to the dearth of talented arms around the league. The question with Russell was never about talent; it was about whether he was willing to put in the work.
With his weight down and his commitment fully to the game of football, perhaps Russell's comeback has hit the perfect storm.
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