COMMENTARY | The Baltimore Ravens are accustomed to being a no-nonsense team, so adding one of the biggest first-round busts in NFL history doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. The rumors linking the Ravens and JaMarcus Russell will not go away, though, and for good reason. No other team makes more sense for Russell than the Ravens, and the former bust could bring a lot to the table for the defending champs as well.
I can hear fans screaming now: We don't need the sideshow that Russell would bring! He was awful in Oakland! We're set at quarterback!
That's all true.
The Ravens are set at quarterback with Joe Flacco as the starter and Tyrod Taylor as his backup. Adding Russell wouldn't change that.
Even more importantly, Russell truly was awful in Oakland. He inspired no confidence in his ability to ever succeed in the league, and his professionalism was practically non-existent.
Finally, and paramount, is the fact that Russell probably would bring a large media contingent with him. A legendary bust trying to make it back into the NFL would attract national attention, and there is nothing the Ravens could do to change that.
Despite all these problems, Russell and the Ravens are a good fit, and not for what Russell can do on the field.
My interest in Russell comes down to one thing: draft picks. If Russell shows promise in a workout, the Ravens could sign him, develop him and trade him for draft picks.
Quarterbacks are hard to come by, and quarterbacks who can throw the ball 80 yards on one knee are practically non-existent. Russell is a special arm, no doubt about that. That alone could get teams interested.
What Russell has lacked in the past is professionalism and accuracy. By all accounts, Russell has been taking the process seriously to get back into the league. He's lost weight and worked hard. Developing further in a strong locker room like the Ravens' could be enough to get Russell firmly on the right track.
Accuracy, though, is something that Russell will need to continue to work on. His footwork was sloppy in Oakland, resulting in poor throws. Jim Caldwell is a guru, and Russell has been working with a variety of coaches himself. The Ravens could at least slightly improve Russell's accuracy, even if he never becomes a pinpoint passer.
With some development in these areas, Russell could at least be a decent starter in the league. The Ravens can prove that by developing him and letting him star in the preseason. The Ravens are deep on offense, meaning Russell would have some nice weapons to throw to in the preseason. He could very easily excel in the preseason and garner some immediate interest from other teams.
From there, the Ravens could continue to develop him throughout the season, occasionally getting Russell in the game in mop-up duty. Giving Russell the opportunity to showcase improvement on a national stage would be crucial at this point.
From there, the trap will be set. Other teams would be interested, and the Ravens could benefit by trading Russell for draft picks. Even acquiring a late-round pick would make adding Russell well worthwhile.
Again, let me be clear: Russell has no chance of unseating Flacco, and minimal chance of unseating Taylor as the backup.
That doesn't mean he isn't worth a look, though. Russell has something to offer, and Baltimore would be the best fit for him to prove it.
Shawn Brubaker lives in Washington, DC. He has been a Baltimore Ravens featured columnist for Bleacher Report for two years and has been published in a variety of other publications.
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- JaMarcus Russell
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