Matt Leinart: Ranking Top 10 Fits For Disgruntled Arizona Cardinals QB
Matt Leinart clearly won't be following in the footsteps of Kurt Warner.
After meeting with head coach Ken Whisenhunt Monday, the writing is on the wall for Leinart's career with the Cardinals.
Derek Anderson has likely won the starting job, and Leinart will soon be headed out the door.
According to an ESPN report, the Bills, Giants and Raiders have inquired about dealing for the former USC star.
At this point, Leinart just needs a job. Although he could potentially see the field sooner rather than later with a couple NFL teams, it appears assuming a backup role after a change of scenery might be the best thing for his career.
Even if that change of scenery takes him to a team like the Raiders.
Here's a look at the 10 best fits around the NFL for Matt Leinart's services.
No. 10: Pittsburgh Steelers
Heading into the season, the Steelers could certainly be in better shape at the quarterback position.
With Ben Roethlisberger suspended for at least the first four games, the team is likely to hand the starting job to Byron Leftwich.
Much like Matt Leinart in Arizona, Dennis Dixon has played himself out of contention for the starting job in the preseason.
Pittsburgh has Charlie Batch, who has shown an ability to step in and win games in the past. But Batch remains the team's third string quarterback, and probably doesn't have enough left to be counted on to win games at this point in his NFL career.
The Steelers and Cardinals could swap backup quarterbacks relatively easily, giving Leinart a chance to possibly succeed Leftwich as the starter or at worst, continue to learn on the sidelines with a successful organization.
No. 9: San Diego Chargers
The Chargers no longer have the insurance policy of Charlie Whitehurst and could have some interest in bringing Leinart back to SoCal.
San Diego is high on rookie Jonathan Crompton and still has dependable second-string quarterback Billy Volek, but the team would have very little to lose by trading for a player like Leinart.
At worst, it would probably cost the Chargers a fourth-round pick.
No. 8: New York Giants
With Jim Sorgi headed to IR this season, the Giant are counting on Rhett Bomar if Eli Manning gets hurt.
Bomar has been impressive in the preseason, but lacks NFL game experience. If nothing else, Leinart would bring experience to the table and might be better suited to function as more of a game manager in a balanced offense.
No. 7: Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a decorated group of college quarterbacks who haven't accomplished a great deal at the NFL.
Aside from ultimate game-manager Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn are even less accomplished than Leinart at this point in their NFL careers.
Tebow isn't going anywhere, but Quinn could be swapped for Leinart. The trade would give both players a fresh start and could be at least worth a shot.
Leinart would be able to fend off Tebow for the No. 2 spot and possibly see action this season, something that isn't likely to happen if he stays in Arizona.
It's never a good idea for a player in Leinart's fragile position to burn bridges with his head coach.
No. 6: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers remain outwardly confident in Matt Moore's abilities to quarterback a winning team. At the same time, there is plenty of pressure on Jimmy Clausen to be ready if the Moore falters.
A trade sending Leinart to Carolina could give him a chance to start, if only for a few games later in the season.
Success with the Panthers would then likely allow him to take his career elsewhere and at least be contend for a No. 2 quarterback spot.
Clausen should be ready to assume the starting role by the 2011 season, if not sooner. It's not a perfect situation for Leinart, but it might have to do.
No. 5: Miami Dolphins
Is Chad Henne really going to be as good as Dan Marino?
No matter what his owner thinks, the Dolphins quarterback will have to produce in his first full season as the team's starting quarterback.
Miami still has Chad Pennington under contract and could look to move him. A trade bonus added to his deal in the offseason will make that a difficult task, but the Cardinals might be willing to overpay for Pennington if they are able unload Leinart at the same time.
From Leinart's point of view, he would have a decent chance of seeing the field at some point. At worst, he could enjoy the fruits of life on South Beach.
No. 4: Cleveland Browns
The Browns aren't expecting Colt McCoy to be ready to play until at least next season, and Jake Delhomme's aging arm and injury history is cause for concern.
Cleveland does have Seneca Wallace to provide insurance, but there would be nothing to lose by bringing in Leinart in hopes he might rediscover the magic.
Leinart might welcome a chance to head to Cleveland, where there would be little pressure to perform if he saw the field.
Maybe Mike Holmgren can work miracles with yet another young quarterback.
No. 3: Oakland Raiders
Before you point out that few organizations are more dysfunctional than the Oakland Raiders, consider the slim possibilities that the team's starting quarterback will make it through the season without getting his head knocked off.
The Raiders offensive line should be improved after years of futility, but it is still well below average. Jason Campbell is already dealing with a wrist injury and the regular season hasn't even started yet.
Leinart would likely have a chance to see the field in Oakland if Campbell gets knocked out. There would be little pressure to produce big numbers for the run-first Raiders.
No. 2: Kansas City Chiefs
Leinart's arm strength has been a constant source of criticism and separates him from his competition in Arizona. Derek Anderson might be wildly inaccurate and make baffling decisions, but he can sling the ball downfield in the Cardinals' vertical passing game.
The Chiefs don't figure to have much of a vertical game under Charlie Weis, and Leinart's skills would be a decent fit for the quarterbacked-starved Chiefs.
Depending on what it would take to land Leinart, Kansas City might have some interest.
No. 1: Buffalo Bills
A trade to the Bills appears to be a strong possibility for two primary reasons.
First, the team could use an upgrade at the quarterback position, something that has been true since the horrible days of J.P. Losman under center.
Second, Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins has lobbied for Leinart's services, according to an ESPN report that cited an unnamed league source.
Modkins was Arizona's running back coach last season before taking the job in Buffalo and is rumored to be a huge Leinart supporter.
Leinart's best chance to start and make some sort of impact appears to lie in a trade to the Bills. Don't be surprised if he heads to Buffalo before the end of this week.