Arms Race Shake Up: JaMarcus Russell Released

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIMay 6, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 13: JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field after calling a time out during their game against the Washington Redskins at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 13, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

     On Thursday, the Raiders made their biggest move of the off-season, they released JaMarcus Russell, the #1 pick in 2007.  JaMarcus was part of a 5 man QB competition with Kyle Boller, Charlie Frye, recently acquired Jason Campbell and former starter Bruce Gradkowski.  This move narrows the scenarios of opening day starter to Gradkowski vs. Campbell.  But more on JaMarcus.

     Russell has already been paid $39 million of a contract that could have given him $66 million total after 3 more years.  JaMarcus never showed the consistency to be a true franchise QB, although he is only 24 years old.  But age is no excuse when he signed a 6 year, $66M contract and then fall asleep in team meetings like Dominci Rhodes (Raiders RB 2007) accused Russell of on OTL on ESPN. 

     In his 3 years, Russell went 7-18 through 25 starts.  He completed 52.1% of his passes for 4,083 yards with 18 TDs and 23 INTs for a career rating of 65.2.  He had a rough start in Oakland when he skipped his rookie training camp and pre-season during a contract holdout that went until week 2 of the regular season.  Things didn't get much better.  Russell's best stretch was a 2 game winning streak to end 2008.  That set up a terrible 2009 where Russell dethroned Ryan Leaf as the NFL's biggest bust.

     Russell's 3 year tenurein Oakland is the shortest ever by a #1 overall QB.  Jeff George lasted 4 with the Colts before the Colts got rid of him.  JaMarcus's career may not be dead just yet.  Somebody out there may take a chance on him with a new cheap contract.  Bill Belichick seems to be infatuated with players the Raiders don't want:  Andrew Walter, Randy Moss and Gerard Warren to name a few.  Russell could go to  the Patriots, learn from Tom Brady and wind up alright. 

     But the news of Russell's release is the best news the Raiders have had since they drafted him in 2007 to be the franchise QB.  The curse of Kenny Stabler lives on, the Raiders haven't drafted a great QB since The Snake.