If it runs as a crawl under an excruciatingly poorly played 49ers/Cardinals game, then you know it’s important. And so it is: ESPN’s effortlessly dapper Len Pasquarelli reports that the Josh McCown Era in Oakland is now officially on the clock, as the Raiders have agreed to a contract with 2007’s first overall selection, QB JaMarcus Russell. Mr. Len, get busy on ’em:

Barring any glitches, and contingent on formalities like him passing a physical exam, ESPN.com has confirmed that Russell will officially sign a six-year contract on Tuesday and should be on the field for the team’s Wednesday practice.

There is still considerable work to be done, however, in terms of drawing up the contract, and a source close to the negotiations said late Monday that the two sides could still be working “very late into the night and maybe into [Tuesday] morning” to craft the precise language of the deal. ESPN.com has learned that Russell is still not in the Bay Area, and will not fly to Oakland until his representatives feel comfortable with all the details of the contract.

Sources said the contract, hammered out in four days of marathon face-to-face negotiations in the Bay Area, has a maximum value of $68 million. The deal also includes $34.5 million in the first three years, an increase of about 65 percent over the first three seasons of the deal that Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams, the top overall selection in the 2006 draft, will bank in his first three years. There is a $3 million guarantee in the fourth season of Russell’s deal, essentially creating $37.5 million in guarantees. So, while it appears that the Raiders were able to hold the guarantees in the range that they had been proposing in recent discussions, the long holdout seems to have garnered Russell a very advantageous payout structure.

So perhaps Raiders WR Jerry Porter wasn’t entirely joking when he posited JaMarcus as the starting QB for the Raiders Week One game. Well, not any more than he was when he mentioned Vince Evans (above) as a possible starter. If you have the time, you really should click that link to look at Vince’s NFL record. He’s like some cross between Minnie Minoso and Zelig, if Zelig (as Evans did) ever appeared on a Topps football card with the position listing QB-KR.

UPDATE: Okay, a poorly played game with an enjoyable ending. Arnaz Battle, I salute you. Mike Ditka, less so.