JaMarcus Russell, the first pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, is drawing “significant” interest from multiple NFL teams, according to NFL.com.
Russell has dropped 50 pounds since February 7 when he began working out at the TEST Football Academy in California with former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia. Agent Eugene Parker, who counts Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and Minnesota Vikings receiver Greg Jennings among his clients, recently agreed to represent Russell during his comeback effort.
The former Oakland Raider hopes to sign with a team within the next month or so. If he is unable to earn an NFL deal he says he is open to playing in the Canadian Football League.
Russell torched SEC defenses during his junior year at LSU. He threw 28 touchdown against 8 interceptions for 3,129 yards on his way to being named a member of the All-SEC team. Following the season he declared himself eligible for the draft.
Russell’s scouting combine is the stuff of legend. Then Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden called the workout “Star Wars.” ESPN draft guru Todd McShay said the workout was “the most impressive of all pro days I’ve ever been to.” Fellow ESPN draftnik Mel Kiper Jr. compared Russell to John Elway. While scouts drooled over his physical tools, they also tabbed JaMarcus Russell was the only person capable of derailing JaMarcus Russell.
He did just that.
Russell held out from his first training camp. The contract dispute ended three days after Oakland’s first regular season game, with Russell signing a six-year deal worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed. He finished rookie season with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Russell showed little improvement his second year as the starter and after his third season he was out of league.
In 2010 Russell was arrested for possession of codeine syrup, an opiate used in a popular Southern mixture with soda colloquially known as sizzurp. In an interview with ESPN following his arrest, Russell stated he had tested positive for codeine soon after the Raiders drafted him.
Only 27 years old, it is possible Russell could still have some productive years in him. He earned a reputation as a lazy, one-read quarterback as a young man but maybe his years out of the league sparked a fire?
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