Now that he’s an ex-Cardinal, Matt Leinart’s next call is by far the most pivotal one of his five-year professional career. Finding his next address in the NFL pales in comparison to the real challenge he faces: Finding the right NFL address, one that will provide him a chance to revive his reputation and rebuild his game.
If he’s smart, Leinart will take some time and think long and hard and not just sign with the first team that slides a contract and dangles its backup QB job in front of him. Because his second NFL team will likely either make or break him.
Leinart should beware of a team that might pose the quickest opportunity for some playing time — say, maybe a Buffalo or Jacksonville-type situation — but perhaps leads nowhere good in terms of his long-term interests. He needs someone to invest some time and development in him at this crossroads point in his career, not just take a one-season look at him and render a hasty judgment.
I found some sentiment within the league Saturday afternoon that agrees with my thinking on Leinart, and who believes he might be better served to sit and wait until the right team comes along, even if it means he loses all of his 2010 season in the process.
"It sounds kind of crazy, and I know he wants to play somewhere this year, but he might be better off scrapping the season and seeing what develops for him in 2011,” a veteran club personnel man told me. "He’s already in a bad spot, but the biggest thing he needs to do is go somewhere he’s going to have a comfort level with the offense and the people who are coaching him. That’s critical.
"There’s really not much of an opportunity for him in too many places at this point this year. If he goes somewhere just to go somewhere, and it turns out badly there, he may be done at that point. It’s not about the playing time or the money for him now. He should be trying to figure out where the perfect spot is for him to land, and who can work with him and help him learn how to study and how to be a pro.”
Is there a perfect landing spot for Leinart, who went 10th overall to Arizona in 2006? Maybe not, but some opportunities would be far better than others. Five fairly logical teams come to mind: