Former Democratic Congressman Heath Shuler is actively exploring a Senate run in North Carolina, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell National Journal.

Should he run, Shuler, a former NFL quarterback who represented a district in the state's western half, would instantly become the Democrats' top recruit for the Senate seat held by Republican incumbent Richard Burr. Earlier this year, former Sen. Kay Hagan turned down Democratic entreaties to run for office, and the party has since struggled to find another potential contender.

Shuler served three terms in the House before deciding not to seek re-election in 2012.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.