COMMENTARY | Former Oakland Raiders quarterback and supreme NFL draft bust JaMarcus Russell is looking for another shot in the NFL while the Cincinnati Bengals continue to look for a good option behind quarterback Andy Dalton.
Sounds like a match made in heaven, no?
Probably not, but reports are saying there are several NFL teams interested in Russell's services now that he has his act together. Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk has all the juicy details about Russell's comeback bid as told on NFL live with Ian Rapoport:
"Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said on Tuesday's Total Access that he was told that there is "significant interest from more than one team," but those teams don't want to be publicly identified as having interest in Russell because of the potential distractions that could come along with being publicly identified as a team that's considering adding Russell. Rapoport compared it to the way teams are refraining from expressing any interest in Tim Tebow."
"Rapoport reported that Russell has lost 50 pounds, from 315 to 265, and that he's "throwing just like he used to." But the way Russell used to throw the football was on display in 2009, Russell's last season, when he completed 48.8 percent of his passes while throwing three touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. With that track record, it's hard to see why any team would have any interest."
We doubt the Bengals have any interest in this random guy named Tim Tebow, but showing some interest in a new-look Russell would make some sense. After all, the guy was a No. 1 overall pick for a reason.
If 265 pounds sounds heavy for a quarterback, that's because it is. Still, it's better than his previous weight of 315 pounds. Now that he's in better shape, there's no reason for the Bengals to not kick the tires on the bust.
Behind Dalton in Cincinnati you have a mash up of guys with little experience. Zac Robinson knows the offense and has shown some development over two years on the practice squad in Cincinnati, but he's still an unknown.
There's John Skelton, a man who blew his opportunities to start behind a putrid offensive line with the Arizona Cardinals. He has plenty of room to grow and has the most experience of the bunch.
You also have the athletic Josh Johnson who has never truly been given a shot. While a dynamic threat on the ground, Johnson has never shown enough with his arm to warrant a serious look at a true backup role.
In other words, there's nothing to lose by adding Russell. It's not like he is going to push for Dalton's job and for all we know, head coach Marvin Lewis and Co. will cause another positive turnaround in someone's life both on and off the field.
Say Russell comes in and wins the backup job behind Dalton. This means the coaching staff feels strongly enough in Russell's ability that he'd be the starter were Dalton to go down. It also means Lewis could pull a Bill Belichick and hype up his backup before shipping him off in a nice trade.
Shipping Russell off after a year on the bench would be a smart strategy, to say the least.
As you probably already know, Cincinnati loves to get troubled players at a bargain of a deal and flip that into some serious value. It's a safe bet the Russell topic has come up at least once in the front office, but whether that notion was shot down or not is hard to tell.
Right now the odds of the Bengals actually having interest in Russell are pretty fair. There's really no reason to not at least check in and see if he is serious about his comeback.
Odds: 50 percent
Chris Roling is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, The Cincinnati Enquirer and more. He is the co-host of a Cincinnati Bengals podcast, @BengalsCentral
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Roling
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