NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported May 28 that a slimmed-down JaMarcus Russell was drawing "significant" interest from more than one team. Among those teams, Rapoport heard Tuesday, were the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens.
The Bears are the more serious of the two, with a source telling Rapoport that the team will host Russell and other free-agent quarterbacks for a Friday workout (the Chicago Tribune reported former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Trent Edwards and former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Jordan Palmer were the other two). ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright first reported the news.
New Bears coach Marc Trestman has been "intrigued" by Russell, per Rapoport. That interest turned into action once Russell finally showed a hint of commitment in returning to his rookie-year playing weight of 265 pounds.
With only journeyman Josh McCown and former Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback Matt Blanchard behind starter Jay Cutler, the fit makes sense for both sides. Russell's preference is to sit on the bench while learning behind a veteran. Trestman is among the most respected quarterback tutors in the NFL, earning testimonials from Steve Young, Rich Gannon and Scott Mitchell for his Midas touch in their development.
This is a prime opportunity for the former No. 1 overall draft pick to impress after three years removed from the NFL, but he shouldn't get his hopes up just yet. A Bears source tells Rapoport it would be a surprise if the workout led to a signing. This is more of an "information gathering" exercise. The Bears want to gauge Russell's progress for themselves after hearing positive reports on his workouts with former NFL quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Steve DeBerg.
If a signing does happen, it's expected "down the road." Still, this is the first tangible sign of NFL interest. Russell has come a long way from February when his comeback appeared to be little more than an ill-fated publicity stunt.
Update: According to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, there is a third "mystery" team -- possibly in the NFC West -- interested in Russell. An April report by Draftinsider.net suggested the Bears and Arizona Cardinals had shown the highest level of interest. Freeman is told that the Ravens are only a "tepid" suitor for Russell.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.