JaMarcus Russell is Proof the NFL Needs a Rookie Salary Cap

Brian CarsonCorrespondent IMay 10, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 03:  JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The JaMarcus Russell experience is over in Oakland.

After wasting more than $39 million for only seven wins in 25 starts over three years, the Raiders released the top overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Oakland still owes $3 million to Russell, who completed just 52.1 percent of his passes in his career with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles, and a passer rating of 65.2.

Russell now joins Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Cade McNown, and Charles Rogers as one the biggest busts in NFL history.

As a matter of fact, the entire 2007 quarterback class is looking pretty bad with Russell, Brady Quinn, Drew Stanton, Trent Edwards, and Troy Smith all flaming out. The book is still out on Kevin Kolb, who gets his chance in Philly now that Donovan McNabb is gone.

Russell's release is proof that a rookie salary cap is needed in the NFL.

Handing a 21-year-old kid like Russell a mega-bucks deal is a giant mistake. For every Peyton Manning that can handle all the money, fame, and pressure that comes with it, there's a Leaf or a Russell—immature kids who get the big bucks and stop working or caring to be better.

Russell's problem is the money.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

He got rich before he ever threw a pass in the NFL and became lazy.

He came to work out of shape, climbing close to 300 pounds, and some teammates have publicly stated he was more than comfortable being a backup and collecting his big, fat paycheck, than trying to be a great player.

Jimbo Fisher, former LSU offensive coordinator and current Florida State coach, told ESPN 760 that, "I never knew that guy," talking about the lazy player Russell has become.  "His work ethic for us—everything I ever asked him to do, he did.  He was smart. He carried three and four play packages at the line of scrimmage. He is very talented and very intelligent. Intelligence isn't an issue with him."

So what changed him? What went wrong?

I can give you 39 million reasons.

A wage cap for rookies is needed in the NFL in the worst way.

Giving $40-50 million in guaranteed money to the top pick before they even step on a field is like playing Russian roulette alone with five bullets in the chamber.

It's a situation that, more times than not, will result in dire consequences for the franchise placed in that predicament.

A rookie wage scale has worked in the NBA and it can work in the NFL as well.

Not only will it keep clubs from wasting huge amounts of money if the player doesn't pan out, the rookie cap would make the veterans very happy. What established player in his right mind wants to see a rookie come in and make more money than he does?

The rookie cap would make a player earn a big contract by performance on the field, not by where he was drafted or how good he was in college. Performance for pay is how it should work.

Right now, Sam Bradford, top pick in the 2010 draft, has been handed the task of leading the St. Louis Rams back to prominence. There are no guarantees he'll succeed.

Even so, Bradford will become the highest paid player in team history, with $40-50 million in guaranteed money, before he even throws an NFL pass.

The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!