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Final Payment to JaMarcus Russell Is Exactly What Oakland Raiders, QB Need

BALTIMORE - OCTOBER 26:  JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders looks on from the bench against  the Baltimore Ravens during the game at M&T Bank Stadium October 26, 2008 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Zach KruseSenior Analyst IJuly 3, 2013

The Oakland Raiders and former quarterback JaMarcus Russell are finally getting some much-needed closure on their rocky three-year relationship. 

According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders and Russell recently agreed on a settlement over his rookie contract that will award the former No. 1 overall pick nearly $3 million.

Both sides had previously filed grievances over the six-year, $68 million deal, with the Raiders looking to recoup nearly $10 million in salary advances and Russell attempting to get the full value of his guaranteed money. A settlement was reached before the case went to court. 

Over six years after the Raiders took Russell with the top pick, the two parties can now officially go their separate ways. And while Oakland may never be able to wash its hands of the historic draft bust Russell became, the franchise can finally rid itself of the remaining ties to such a disastrous situation. 

The Raiders paid Russell roughly $40 million (now including the $3 million settlement), but received just three years of service in return. From 2007-09, Russell started 25 games—winning just seven—and threw 18 touchdowns against 23 interceptions. 

By the 2009 season, his third in the NFL, Russell had lost his starting job. His passer rating sunk to an NFL-low 50.0 as the Raiders started 2-7. 

The next offseason, Oakland traded for Jason Campbell and officially waived Russell, who had developed weight and conditioning problems. He's been out of the NFL ever since. 

Since 2007, the Raiders have won just 34 games, or an average of roughly 5.5 a season. Bad decisions littered the franchise both before and after Russell, but no one player embodies the fall of the Raiders franchise better than Russell. 

While the Raiders will now pay Russell more money in this settlement than all but four players on the roster in 2013, as pointed out by Bleacher Report's Chris Hansen, the complete severing of ties is a symbolic one for the forward motion of the entire franchise. Russell is now firmly in the rear-view mirror, while the Raiders continue their attempt to move forward. 

With general manager Reggie McKenzie cleaning up the roster, brighter days are ahead.

Speaking of brighter days, Russell has also started his climb out of the darkness. 

With his last ties to the Raiders settled, Russell's focus can now return to landing a job somewhere in the NFL before the start of training camp. 

His long comeback trail started in January, with Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler covering the entire process from the TEST Football Academy. Russell has worked with a number of experts—ranging from former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia to dietitians and physical trainers—to aid his journey back.

While his work has yet to pay off with an NFL job, Russell has opened the eyes of teams across the league. 

A new, slimmer Russell received an official workout from the Chicago Bears in June, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago. A contract offer never appeared to be close from the Bears, but the workout did signal a revival of Russell's chances of playing in the NFL again. 

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Russell weighed 267 pounds at the workout—just two pounds over his playing weight coming into the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens were also thought to have "significant" interest in Russell, per Mike Garafolo of USA Today, but an official workout has yet to take place. It's certainly possible that Russell might have to play in the CFL before reentering the NFL. 

Either way, the past that haunts Russell continues to fade into the distance.

He may always be known as one of the biggest draft busts in history, and Raiders fans will likely never forgive the former top pick for the time and money wasted. But for Russell, settling this contract dispute is just another step away from those disastrous years in Oakland. 

The Raiders are starving to create a new legacy in the post-Russell years. Russell, who finally appears ready to commit to football, might be closing in on his next chance. 

Sometimes, closure is the last step in a messy breakup. In this case, final closure came with a $3 million price tag. 

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