By Associated Press...
ALAMEDA, Calif. - The Oakland Raiders released former No. 1
overall pick JaMarcus Russell on Thursday, ending a three-year
tenure marked by his high salary and unproductive play on the
Senior executive John Herrera told The Associated Press about
the move and said that "we wish him well."
The decision came less than two weeks after Oakland acquired
Jason Campbell from Washington to take over at quarterback and
signifies that owner Al Davis finally lost patience with the
immensely talented but unproductive player he drafted first overall
in 2007 against the wishes of former coach Lane Kiffin.
Russell will now likely be considered one of the biggest draft
busts in NFL history, joining Ryan Leaf, Ki-Jana Carter, Akili
Smith and others on that list. He will have been paid more than $39
million by the Raiders, while producing only seven wins as a
Russell showed up at last week's minicamp, saying he would keep
coming to work until told otherwise. He looked decent in the first
of five practices last weekend but got less work as the weekend
went on and the decision to cut ties was finally made.
The Raiders paid Russell more than $36 million through last
season. They still owe him $3 million more but saved $6.45 million
by not having him on the roster in 2010.
Since the start of the common draft in 1967, only one other No.
1 pick was released this quickly in his NFL career. Indianapolis
cut 1992 top pick Steve Emtman after three seasons but that was
more because of injuries than production.
Emtman played three more seasons for Miami and Washington. It
remains to be seen whether any team will give Russell another shot.
Davis believed Russell could turn the fortunes of his struggling
franchise when he drafted him. He stood by him during his
struggles, revealing when he fired Kiffin in 2008 that the coach
did not want him.
"He is a great player. Get over it and coach this team on the
field," Davis read from a letter he sent Kiffin before the firing.
"That is what you were hired to do. We can win with this team."
But the Raiders were unable to win with Russell at the helm and
Davis allowed Cable to bench Russell midway through last season.
The move was popular in the locker room and gave the team a spark
on the field as Bruce Gradkowski led comeback wins over Cincinnati
Davis was not satisfied with Gradkowski as his standard bearer
and the Raiders were linked to possible offseason deals for Donovan
McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger. While the Raiders downplayed how
serious those talks ever got, they did make the move for another
quarterback when they acquired Campbell from Washington for a 2012
fourth-round draft pick.
The team showed confidence in Campbell by extending his contract
through 2011, giving him a $4.5 million deal that season on top of
the $3.14 million he is owed this season.
Russell won only seven of his 25 starts as the Raiders extended
an NFL-worst streak to seven straight seasons with at least 11
losses. He completed just 52.1 percent of his passes in his career
with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles and a passer
rating of 65.2.
That means Russell has been paid more than $5 million per win,
more than $2 million per touchdown pass and more than $100,000 per
While Russell's numbers are superior to Leaf's, he was paid
considerably more money to do it and was picked first instead of
second. Leaf's rookie contract guaranteed him only $11.25 million.
Russell's tenure in Oakland got off to a rough start and never
got much better. He held out his first season, not signing a
contract until after the first game of the regular season. That
made his rookie season almost a complete loss, as he started only
He showed some signs of progress in his second season,
especially in winning the final two games of the year against
Houston and Tampa Bay. But the problems of work ethic and his
weight never disappeared and his third season was an utter
He was fined for being overweight when he showed up at training
camp. He then put together one of the worst seasons in recent
memory for an NFL quarterback. He completed 48.8 percent of his
passes, with three touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 50.0 passer
rating that was the lowest since Leaf, Bobby Hoying and Craig
Whelihan all finished below 50 in 1998.