We can now assume that the JaMarcus Russell era is over with the Oakland Raiders.
Whether he starts next week’s game against Cincinnati is irrelevant. The fact that Tom Cable is now considering benching Russell in favor of Bruce Gradkowski as the starting quarterback means the former LSU player has reached his point of no return with the Raiders.
Bruce Gradkowski may or may not be the answer (probably the latter) but the Raiders need to move on from JaMarcus Russell. Russell’s deficiencies are well-documented, and it has surely been the pride and embarrassment of Al Davis that has prevented the Raiders from turning the page at the quarterback position.
The only future JaMarcus Russell has with the Raiders (and possibly the NFL) is to accept a drastic pay cut and the role of a back-up for the 2010 season. Meanwhile the Raiders will have to consider their future options.
Do they draft a quarterback or sign an expensive free agent? Neither option is very appealing.
Oakland has a dismal record drafting quarterbacks (Todd Marinovich, Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo spring to mind, as well as the forlorn Russell). Meanwhile the 2010 free agency quarterback pool looks very shallow indeed with Jason Campbell and David Carr leading the charge for free-agent mega-money. Rich Gannon and Jim Plunkett they are not. Indeed Marc Wilson and Jay Schreoder they are not.
The only hope for the Raiders is that they discover a hidden gem in the lower rounds of the draft with a Tony Romo or a Matt Cassell-type selection.
The best way to achieve the above is to have an extensive scouting system with a Director of Personnel monitoring the move of every feasible collegiate quarterback. Al Davis in front of a 50-inch plasma watching tapes of College Gameday in between episodes of Mad Men while drinking chamomile tea will no longer suffice.
While the disheartening efforts of the Raiders continue at an inexorable pace, I may need some of that tea for myself mixed with something a bit stronger to get me through the rest of this most miserable of seasons.