Eagles To Go After Russell If Released?
By Lance Epstein
This past weekend the Philadelphia Eagles selected Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka to become the team's future backup. In addition the team already has Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick on the roster.
So why would they be interested in picking up another quarterback?
Well, when a talented, but lackadaisical player with as much upside as JaMarcus Russell hits the open market a team must be willing to take a chance. According to SI's Peter King, one of the destinations that makes the most sense for Russell would be Philadelphia, where Eagles scouting adviser Phil Savage would most likely recommend the club bring him in for a tryout.
"He made his own bed with his lack of effort and now he'll have to lie in it," King wrote. "Washington is as good a choice as any, though I could see a place like Philadelphia (even after drafting Mike Kafka ) because scouting adviser Phil Savage would give him a strong recommendation."
Nevertheless, Russell has not yet been released from the Oakland Raiders, but with the draft day trade for former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell and his large salary, he is looking at taking a pay cut or an outright release.
The former first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft has the arm to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, but his eating habits and lazy approach to the game has him on the verge of being one of the biggest draft busts of all-time.
In fact on Monday, National Football Post's Aaron Wilson reported that Russell bulked up to 300 pounds. Maybe Russell believes he is adding on muscle, but many scouts around the league believe he cannot keep his hand out of the cookie jar.
Over Russell's three-year NFL career, he has compiled more interceptions than touchdowns with 23 picks and only 18 TDs. Furthermore, he has a disastrous 65.2 quarterback rating and is only completing 52 percent of his passes.
If those stats were not bad enough, he regressed from a decent 2008 season to a horrifying 2009 campaign. This past season, Russell completed only 48 percent of his passes, registered 1,287 yards (in 12 games), threw 11 interceptions and only three touchdowns. Although he did managed to win against the Eagles in week six.
On the other hand, the Eagles have said in the past that they can never have enough quality quarterbacks on the roster. Earlier this offseason, head coach Andy Reid was content on heading into the season with Donovan McNabb, Vick and Kolb all on the roster. Of course, he traded McNabb, but no one would have been surprised if he held onto all three.
Yes, Russell has been a underachiever and looks as though he does not care (except about money), but the Eagles have helped the careers of multiple quarterbacks that were given up for dead according to NFL scouts and teams.
The Eagles made Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley into quality backups with their coaching. They even got excellent value for Feeley as they traded him for a second-round pick to Miami. Furthermore, Reid assisted Jeff Garcia in resurrecting his career. Garcia took the Eagles from a 5-6 record to within a game of the NFC Championship Game.
Additionally, the Eagles have shown they are willing to take a chance on a problem child with significant character issues. Just last year, the Eagles signed Vick who was just released from prison for a dog-fighting scandal.
Certainly Russell does not have those types of issues, but the Eagles could see him as their ticket to future draft picks. If the club can some how revive or transform him into a competent NFL quarterback, they just may be able to bring home a quality future draft pick. In a league driven by quarterbacks, team's are willing to give up a pretty penny for a franchise difference maker.
Still it is a relatively low risk gamble to bring him into the fold for a veteran minimum (about the best he will receive). Without a doubt, Russell needs to have the light bulb in his head turn on and develop the passion and work ethic to become a good player, but he demonstrated that he has the skills to be a good player in college at Louisiana State. In college, many forget he won the Sugar Bowl in blow out fashion over Notre Dame as a starting quarterback and the team leader. Also, he was selected as a first-team All-SEC player that same season.
The question becomes whether he is worth the hassle? With the right coaching and a winning culture around him, Russell could become a nice bargain that leads to more draft picks. And that is like music to general manager Howie Roseman and Reid's ears.