After a day full of Matt Leinart posts, let’s pause for a moment and take stock of where things stand.
First, Leinart’s time in Arizona appears to be over.
Second, Leinart has done himself no favors with the things he has recently said. Most recently, his stated desire to be a starter makes it harder for any team to rely on him as a backup, because a good backup must be willing to understand, accept, and embrace his role.
Third, despite rumors in the Cardinals locker room that the Giants could be trading for Leinart, there is no sign of serious interest coming from the Giants, Bills, Raiders, or anyone else. As Jay Glazer of FOX points out, the Giants want someone who’ll be happy to serve as Eli Manning’s understudy.
Fourth, no one in their right mind will trade for a guy with high base salaries in 2010 and 2011, and Leinart likely won’t be reducing his high base salaries to facilitate a trade if it means going somewhere else to be a backup.
Fifth, we’re told that the players in Arizona don’t really care for Leinart. Former teammate Anquan Boldin addressed the situation recently on 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore, and Boldin said that he’s not surprised that Leinart has lost his job to Derek Anderson.
Sixth, even Jon Gruden has jumped into the “Lambaste Leinart” parade. “I just say he hasn’t performed,” Gruden said during Wednesday’s Monday Night Football conference call, per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “He hasn’t taken
advantage of his opportunities. He’s clearly been average. He hasn’t
been a guy who’s really taken control and choked the opportunity that’s
been given to him, and obviously there’s something missing there.”
Coming from Gruden, who usually says bad things about others only when others aren’t listening (or when he assumes they aren’t), that’s a strong indictment.
So what has happened with Leinart? It arguably all started in 2005, when he opted not to enter the draft despite winning both the Heisman Trophy and a national championship. He has nothing else to prove at the college level, but he wanted to spend another year as the big man on campus in lieu of embracing the challenge of becoming an NFL-caliber quarterback. It prompted legitimate questions as to whether he truly loves the game, or whether he loves being a celebrity.
Every player has a ceiling on his abilities, and for many it resides between the college and NFL level. Some players have the physical ability, mental capacity, and intestinal fortitude to bust through it. Some don’t.
Leinart, at least through four-plus years of his career, doesn’t have it. He entered the NFL with an entitlement mentality fueled by years of being surrounded by blue-chip players at every position. At the pro level, he learned that it’s no longer easy, and he hasn’t been able or willing to do anything about it.
Bottom line? No one will want him as a backup until he shows that he’ll accept that role. And no one will install him as a starter based on the things he has done in Arizona.
The real question will arise if (when) he’s cut on Saturday. Will Pete Carroll give him a roster spot? Or will Pete realize that the concerns he once expressed regarding Mark Sanchez apply with equal if not greater force to Leinart?