Posted by Ryan Wilson
Matt Leinart's NFL career can kindly be described as underwhelming.
Drafted by the Cardinals with the No. 10 pick in 2006, the former USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner started 11 games as a rookie but only six games since. Arizona released Leinart before the 2010 season, and he eventually signed with Houston where sat behind Matt Schaub.
Now entering his sixth year in the league, Leinart, 28, is a free agent. We wrote last month that the Seahawks could be interested in his services once the lockout ends and free agency begins (Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was Leinart's coach at USC), but Seattle might also trade for Kevin Kolb, re-sign veteran Matt Hasselbeck or choose to give backup Charlie Whitehurst a crack at the starting gig.
To put it another way: There's a lot uncertainty in Leinart's professional future.
During an appearance Friday on ESPN Radio Los Angeles, Leinart spoke about what it means to have people call him a "bust" at this point in his career.
“I’ve heard everything," he said, according to Sports Radio Interviews. "I’ve seen everything. For me I haven’t proven anything, so I haven’t proven that I could play game in and game out.
"I understand that," he continued. "I believe I can play and I’m not one to make excuses. I’ve never made an excuse with my time in Arizona. It just didn’t work out for whatever reason. Those are reasons people outside of the organization won’t understand, but it didn’t work out and it wasn’t a right fit, so you move on.
"You kind of look at the timeline of what has happened to me and with having a pretty good rookie year and the second year getting the injury and Kurt Warner played himself into the Hall of Fame in the last three years. There’s not a lot I can do about that. I battled with a Hall of Famer two training camps in a row. I thought I competed as well as he did and obviously Kurt was a great player. He took us to a Super Bowl. I truly believe he got himself into the Hall of Fame those last couple of years."
One of the knocks on Leinart after he left Arizona is that he he didn't have the disposition coaches look for in their franchise quarterback. Last September, after the Cardinals released Leinart, ESPN.com's NFC West blogger Mike Sando wrote: "Leinart could have made this work if he had played by Whisenhunt's rules. He wasn't willing (or possibly able) to do that under difficult circumstances. He complained and pouted and made it impossible for Whisenhunt to name Leinart the leader of a locker room filled with players more closely aligned with the Whisenhunt mindset."
In terms of preparing for the 2011 season, Leinart said, "For me I’ve worked hard this off-season. … I’m always ready. I’m always prepared and like I said it’s just always about being a quarterback, but being the right situation. For me hopefully that situation comes up this year and I can thrive and show I belong in the league and I can play because I know I can and that’s what I plan on doing.”
History says Leinart's a long shot. Then again, the guy he sat behind in Arizona was once bagging groceries and playing for the Iowa Barnstormers before he won a Super Bowl ring with the Rams and, in Leinart's estimation, cemented his Hall of Fame credentials with the Cardinals.
Stranger things have happened.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.