Now that Pete Carroll is officially head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, having signed a five-year, $35-million deal, a new era has begun in the Pacific Northwest.
Carroll ended his brilliant nine-year coaching run at USC, where he established himself as one of the top college coaches of all-time with a remarkable 97-19 record and 7-2 in bowls games, including two national titles as a Pac-10 powerhouse.
Certainly bold moves in the draft and free agency have to follow for the franchise to regain supremacy in the NFC West. But the former USC head football coach shouldn't be looking to unite former Trojans, especially his beloved quarterback Matt Leinart. Besides, Carroll already boasts one of his former star linebackers in Lofa Tatupu, who is the heart of the Seahawks' defense.
As the offseason rolls on, people will naturally make the connection between Carroll's hire in Seattle and a possible Leinart trade to the Seahawks, but it wouldn't be a smart first move. Leinart wouldn't be a good fit replacing Matt Hasselbeck at Quest Field, even though a reunion with his former college coach might be the only recipe for success at this point in his career.
The reality is, though, not even Carroll, whose 33-31 record in the NFL doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence, will be able to resurrect Leinart's inept career. Leinart may have enjoyed his greatest achievements under Carroll at USC, but the NFL game is completely different from the simple pitch-and-catch the Trojans played with their ridiculous talent; his failures in the pro game, after an outstanding collegiate career, have shown it.
Simply put, Carroll's Heisman-winning quarterback who won him the two championships in 2003 and 2004 continues to flounder as a fourth-year pro in Arizona.
The Cardinals head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, wasn't in the desert when the franchise drafted Leinart 10th overall in 2006 and doesn't think too fondly of his backup pivot. If the decision were in his hands, Whisenhunt would've already shipped him out—given that he's yet to prove his worth in the league.
In 12 starts during his rookie season, under Denny Green, Leinart threw for 2,547 yards and 11 touchdowns to 12 interceptions before Kurt Warner took over the starting duties. It never seemed Leinart was able to comprehend the pro game, struggling to break down defenses and move the football with any efficiency. Arizona finished dead last in the division with a 5-11 record.
Under the new regime, he hasn't taken advantage of the chances he's been given by the Cardinals coaching staff. In a game earlier this season against Chicago, for instance, Leinart was given playing time with Arizona ahead 34-14 in the fourth quarter. But he threw a pick six after his first few snaps, and Whisenhunt pulled him immediately—for good reason.
Whether Warner announces his retirement this offseason or continues to play and etch his name in NFL lore, Leinart's future in Arizona is barren.
But however the Cardinals choose to deal with Leinart, the NFC West-rival Seahawks shouldn't have any interest in his services, even if Carroll wants a reunion with his former Heisman quarterback.