Omaha team owns Russell's UFL rights

The Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL want to help discarded former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell resurrect his career.

Omaha general manager Rick Mueller and player personnel director Ted Sundquist said Friday that they are pursuing the quarterback, who was cut by Oakland in May after three disastrous seasons. The team put Russell on its protective list almost immediately after he was cut by Oakland, Sundquist said. Omaha’s interest in Russell was initially reported by Profootballtalk.com.

“We are interested in JaMarcus Russell and we think it would be a good opportunity for him,” Mueller said.

Still, Omaha knows getting Russell to play in the UFL may be a long shot. The team realizes that he still prefers to try to latch on with an NFL team as a backup. Still, Omaha’s pitch to Russell has been that it can help him reach his goal of being a starting NFL quarterback quicker.

“JaMarcus needs to play,” said Sundquist, the former Denver general manager. "We’d give him that opportunity. We don’t want to make JaMarcus a five-time UFL All-Star. We want him to be a quality NFL quarterback. We think we can help him do that by playing in our league. If he was a No. 3 in the NFL, he’d get four reps a day. Here, he would be playing football and that’s what he needs to do.

“It’s no different than a Major League [Baseball] player who struggles. He goes down to Triple-A for a little while and gets a chance to get things together. That’s what we want for JaMarcus.”

Oakland cut Russell after he regressed badly in 2009. Russell was 7-18 as an NFL starter. Russell is currently working out in Arizona with hopes of shedding weight and getting a call from an NFL team this summer. Russell has talked to some NFL teams but there has been no significant interest.

Omaha has been very aggressive in trying to get former NFL players to sign with the team. The Nighthawks have already inked running back Ahman Green. Other players they are pursuing include Justin Fargas, LaMont Jordan, Shawn Andrews, Charles Grant and Cato June.