JaMarcus Russell, the 2007 number one overall draft pick of the Oakland Raiders, was cut this week but may find a home in Cincinnati. All-World Media man Chad Ochocinco is reporting that Russell will be with the Bengals at mini-camp in June.
From a personnel standpoint, this moves fits the Bengals M.O. Russell is a great physical talent who will come at a discount. Mike Brown is a discount shopper of outstanding talent. The Bengals have signed Adam Jones, Tank Johnson and several others. The team drafted A.J. Nicholson from Florida State and Rey Maualaga from USC. And that’s the short list.
From a football perspective, the decision makes sense as well. If you saw Carson Palmer struggle against the Jets in the playoffs, you know the Bengals have to be looking for a quarterback of the future. Palmer was unable to make a number of throws against the Jets that cost his team the game. His abysmal performance did escape close media scrutiny (not surprising given Palmer’s blond hair and USC pedigree), but management and head coach Marvin Lewis must have noticed.
The situation in Cincinnati may not be urgent, but it bears watching. Palmer, for all his troubles in the passing game, can teach JaMarcus Russell a great deal about playing the position. I don’t know how much he can teach him about leadership. I’ve always felt that the true leadership of the Bengals was at other positions (wide receiver, offensive line (Willie Anderson)). Still, Cincinnati provides a second chance for Russell to learn away from the bright lights of high expectations. He can toil in the shadows and master his craft. Twenty games at LSU was clearly insufficient.
In Cincinnati, Carson Palmer will not be looking over his shoulder. Russell might not even make the team. The Bengals are looking to contend for a Super Bowl title this season and need some depth at this position. Palmer has been injured before and four games vs. the Steelers and Ravens will provide ample opportunity for a recurrence. And, then there is the potential of another visit to Revis Island.