As of right now, Russell has only had workouts with the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens, but reports indicating he has lost over 50 pounds are no longer speculation. As you can plainly see, the former #1 overall pick of the Oakland Raiders has clearly put in some serious work and has lost a significant amount of weight.
Before you all go crazy about this idea, let me just lay out some of my thoughts here.
1. No Pressure
In Oakland, Russell was the big money man expected to revitalize a sorry franchise. He wouldn’t be expected to do anything of the sort in Denver. He would have absolutely no pressure whatsoever to lead a team, and in fact wouldn’t even be guaranteed a roster spot. If he even made the team, he would likely have to beat out a guy like rookie Zac Dysert, whom the Broncos were pretty high on.
2. Peyton Manning
If and when JaMarcus Russell signs with an NFL team, he is certainly going to be better off signing to a team with an older, established quarterback that he can learn from. Can you imagine if Russell had been drafted by the Colts or Patriots, and was able to sit on the bench and learn for a couple of years?
There’s no denying Russell has arm talent. The guy has unbelievable size (at times, not a strength of his) as well as arm strength. Where he really needs improvement is in film study and learning things about the NFL off the field. His arm wasn’t able to win him very many games by itself in Oakland.
4. Denver’s Receivers
The Broncos have an elite crew of young receivers. Russell might not even be second in line to throw to these guys, but hey, he never had much in Oakland, did he?
5. The Raiders
Signing Russell and even growing a positive hype around him would be another way for the Broncos to stick it to the Raiders. These two teams are bitter rivals, and it would be just a riot for Broncos fans if they were able to develop Russell into a starting QB, and the Raiders suffered through one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
6. Elway’s Philosophy
John Elway’s philosophy has always been that you cannot have too many good quarterbacks. I am not sure JaMarcus would qualify as a “good” quarterback, but he certainly has more talent than most of the free agents currently available. The Broncos have no need for a QB, but they also don’t really have anything to lose.
7. Second Chances
I believe in second chances, and I am personally very impressed with Russell’s commitment to nutrition and fitness. He has dedicated himself to a goal, and he is close to achieving that goal. That kind of work ethic is something that I want my team to go after. If I were an NFL GM, I would be very intrigued by Russell’s story.
Russell signing with the Broncos–or any other NFL team, for that matter–may not be the likeliest of scenarios. But, he is still a young player with upside. His career shouldn’t be over at 27 if he is still willing to learn, develop, and work hard. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a playoff team with a veteran QB kick the tires on Russell during pre-season/training camp, and the Broncos could be among those teams.