After three years of repeated disappointments, JaMarcus Russell has been released from his contract with the Oakland Raiders. On paper, it was the obvious move. The Raiders save $6.45 million with Russell’s release. The addition of Jason Campbell via a draft day trade with the Redskins give the Raiders an immediate upgrade at QB. So why was Raider Nation holding its collective breath?
In a now famous letter from Al Davis to Lane Kiffin, written September 12, 2008, Al Davis wrote:
“I do realize that you did not want to draft JaMarcus Russell. He is a great player. Get over it and coach this team on the field, that is what you were hired to do. We can win with this team!”
Al Davis doesn’t often admit he was wrong. One of those rare occasions came during the post Kiffin firing press conference. Al Davis admitted he was wrong about Kiffin. So to admit now that he was wrong about JaMarcus Russell is a double whammy. He was wrong about Russell and Kiffin was right. This must have tortured the legendary Raiders owner.
What we can now believe, however, is that that his desire to win overruled his pride. It’s not as if drafting Russell was a mistake. Russell was highly touted, and the Raiders were in desperate need of a QB.
High draft QB’s are always a risk, and the Raiders are not the first team in the NFL (hell, not even in the AFC West—Hello, San Diego!) to draft a QB that didn’t work out. Three years is just about enough time to determine if a player is going to fit in with the organization. So this move came right on time.
The presumption is that Jason Campbell is now the starting QB for the Oakland Raiders. It’s his job to lose. The run defense has been strengthened, an offensive coordinator is now on team to take the play calling responsibility off Cable, and the offensive line got a few big bodies in the draft. The AFC West is no longer looking as clear-cut. The Chargers better start acting like they need to compete for the division.