What About Matt?: With Warner Re-Signed, Future Of Ex-USC Star In Jeopardy

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2009

Matt Leinart was supposed to be a superstar.

Coming off a dominant performance in the 2005 Orange Bowl when he lead the USC Trojans to the national championship, he was expected to declare for the draft and be the unanimous first overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers.

Leinart decided to stay and led USC to a second dominant season that some say was even better than the 2004 team.

The Trojans lost to Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns in a classic war.

His decision cost him millions in the 2006 draft as he was selected tenth overall to the Arizona Cardinals, a perennial loser.

He was to sit behind Kurt Warner for a year and learn the offense, taking over as the starter in 2007.

Leinart made his debut in week five of 2006 against Kansas City, completing 22-of-35 passes for 252 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

He nearly had a miracle against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football the very next week, with 232 yards passing and two touchdowns but the Cardinals blew a 23-0 lead and lost 24-23.

In 11 starts, he threw for 2,547 yards, 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as the team finished 5-11.

Penciled in as the starter for 2007, he competed for and won the job but after a 299-yard performance against against Seattle he saw spot duty and was used in different situations in combination with Warner.

Warner finished with 27 touchdown passes and Leinart saw the bench.

As Warner ascended back into MVP form in 2008, Leinart's playing time was almost non-existent. 

He watched as his teacher put on another classic, heroic Super Bowl performance nearly leading the Cinderella Cardinals to an improbable championship only to fall in the final seconds against the Steelers.

It appeared that Leinart would finally get his chance to run the Cardinals on his own, after all he has $60 million invested in him; with today's news of Warner re-signing with the team for the next two years, the future of Leinart is indeed in doubt and the three-time Pro Bowler is ready to defend his NFC crown.

Leinart will probably not see playing time until he's 27 or when Warner retires or gets hurt, which ever comes first.

He has tried to follow in the shoes of Carson Palmer who has found superstar success with the Cincinnati Bengals after winning his Heisman with USC back in 2002.

As a top-10 draft pick, Leinart was subject to massive scrutiny and now, with being relegated to the bench, it is fair to question if the former Heisman Trophy winner is somewhat of a bust.

After all, not too many winners of that prestigious award go on to NFL stardom.

We all know he can play as the Cardinals offense is incredibly potent with three 1,000-yard receivers.  He has shown flashes of absolute brilliance but some question his maturity with the revelation with some racy photos at a recent party last summer.

Leinart's future is officially in limbo with Warner's re-emergence as one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

He was supposed to be a superstar....right now, who knows what he is.