I said it wouldn't happen, but I stand corrected —and elated!
ESPN and the NFL Network are now reporting that the Oakland Raiders have released former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell. This move doesn't surprise too many people, but I certainly was a little shocked. Not because I think Russell deserves to remain on the roster, but because I thought Al Davis wasn't willing to give up on him just yet.
I was wrong, and thrilled to be so!
Russell has never come close to living up to the expectations that are placed on all No. 1 picks. He held out of preseason camp as a rookie (where he often arrives overweight and out of shape) and he has shown not a modicum of interest in perfecting his craft.
His career stats were less than pedestrian: 25 starts, a record of 7-18, 52.1 percent completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 25 fumbles, and a career passer rating of 65.2.
With numbers like these, it's a wonder he lasted this long.
Russell now becomes the fastest No. 1 overall pick to get cut by the team that drafted him. Previous record holder Jeff George must feel a little better today. He was cut by the Colts after just four years; Russell beat that by an entire season.
This may be the only record JaMarcus Russell will ever hold.
It was reported that Al Davis hadn't released the quarterback thus far because he wanted to take one more look at him during last week's mini-camp. Russell looked pretty good on Friday, but regressed greatly the following two days. Apparently, Davis has seen enough.
Davis will have paid Russell $36 million for three years of sub-standard service. That's good "work" if you can find it!
What does this mean for the team, Al Davis, and Oakland fans alike?
1. For the team, this move pretty much ends the debate of who will be starting for the Raiders next season. Jason Campbell is clearly the prime choice leaving Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller, and Charlie Frye to battle for the backup job. At least one of these men, possibly two, will be out of a job by the end of summer mini-camps.
Having a decent quarterback on the field should improve morale on the team. Attitude improves chemistry, chemistry improves play, improved play leads to winning, winning improves morale.
Now there's a cycle fans can live with!
2. Releasing Russell will be good for Al Davis. It will restore within him the faith lost from myriads of Oakland fans. This should boost ticket sales and more tickets sold means more sellouts, more sellouts means no more TV blackouts, no blackouts means happy fans, happy fans means more tickets sold.
Again, a nice cycle we can live with!
3. The vast majority of Raider fans have been calling for Russell's release for a long time. If you need proof, attend one of No. 2 jersey-burning parties in the parking lot after home games. Fans just want their beloved team to win, and they knew it wasn't going to happen as long as Russell was on the team, much less the field. Now, fans can concentrate on rooting for the Raiders, rather than booing Russell.
Happy fans promote happy players. Happy players win more games. Winning more games means happier fans. Yet another great cycle of events for the Silver and Black!
What's next for Russell?
I'm sure there is a team out there that would be willing to take a chance on him. However, Russell needs to decide if he even wants to continue to play. He doesn't need the money—he has $36 million, he could go home to Alabama and retire if he chooses to do so.
If Russell decides to sign with another team, there will be some interest. Not much, but some. Teams know they can get him for next to nothing, so they may be willing to take a gamble.
Let's say the Patriots or Colts want to roll the dice. Those teams could give Russell the second chance some believe he deserves. Brady and Manning are getting older and would be great role models for Russell. If he can't resurrect his career with one of these two teams, it just won't happen.
He has the physical tools to be great. If a team, coach, or player can get through to him, we may not have heard the last of JaMarcus Russell. As unlikely as it seems, anything is possible.
So what do you say Raider Nation? Is this the best day of the off season or what?