Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman winner and the 10th pick in the 2006 draft, will be a free agent whenever the lockout ends. And he’s hoping to find a chance to get his career back on track.
Or, as the case may be, to get it on track for the first time.
“I am not going to give up,” Leinart recently said, according to The Daily Trojan, via NFL.com. “I am not going to say it has been unfair, but I am just hoping for the opportunity to come.”
But opportunities only “come” for NFL quarterbacks when injuries strike and warm bodies are needed. Otherwise, quarterbacks need to make their opportunities.
So far, Leinart hasn’t.
“My career has been like a roller coaster,” Leinart said. “You never know what is going to happen next.”
Roller coasters entail ups and downs. Leinart has had very few high points since being drafted.
And though it didn’t help that the coach who drafted him was fired after only one season, Leinart simply wasn’t able to hold off Kurt Warner in Arizona. Then, after Warner retired, Leinart couldn’t beat out Derek Anderson. Leinart spent 2010 at the bottom of the Texans’ depth chart.
As Rams G.M. Billy Devaney told PFT Live on Tuesday and as The Brady 6 documentary makes clear, it’s impossible to know whether a guy can perform at the NFL level until it’s time to perform at the NFL level. Some guys believe getting drafted in round one represents the pinnacle of their careers, and they’re not willing to put in the extra work and effort and sweat necessary to become star players. Other guys, fueled possibly by sliding into round six, develop an unrelenting determination to become the best.
With Leinart, the fact that he has struggled isn’t a surprise. When he decided to remain at USC after winning the Heisman and the national championship, scouts began to wonder whether he truly had the desire to compete at the highest level, or whether he simply wanted to be a celebrity. Through five NFL season, he has lacked the desire or the ability — or both — to compete in the NFL.
Though plenty of teams need quarterbacks, we simply don’t see an opportunity coming for Leinart. And we definitely don’t see him making an opportunity for himself.
But, hey, he can always try to prove us wrong. Tom Brady sure would.