Feels like endgame for Matt Leinart

September, 1, 2010
9/01/10
9:55
AM ET

ESPN's Adam Schefter names the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and New York Giants as teams that have spoken to the Arizona Cardinals about a possible trade for Matt Leinart.

I'm not sure whether those teams initiated discussions or simply answered their phones, but an executive for another team told me the Cardinals were calling around, trying to gauge the market for their jilted quarterback. It's all consistent with the broader feeling that Leinart's tenure in Arizona could be nearing an end.
Update from Schefter: "Buffalobills.com said the Bills have not discussed trading for Leinart and will not trade for him. But two sources said the Bills had ongoing discussions this summer with the Cardinals regarding a trade for Leinart. Buffalo is unlikely to make a trade for Leinart because the Bills are uncomfortable about bringing aboard the quarterback's contract, which carries a $2.485 million base salary this season and balloons to $7.36 million next season. As for the Raiders and Giants, at least one member of each organization had a conversation this week, discussing the idea of trading for Leinart. It is unknown how serious each team is about for Leinart, but the topic has been broached in the organizations. The point to all this is clear. The Cardinals are willing to deal Leinart. It still is uncertain where Leinart will be spending this season, but it is growing increasingly likely that it will not be in Arizona."

How could this be happening?

That's the question Cardinals fans will be asking, particularly if Leinart leaves and the team struggles at quarterback.

[+] EnlargeMatt Leinart
Jim Brown/US PresswireCould Matt Leinart be on his way out of Arizona?
"It amazes me that [coach Ken Whisenhunt] is not being held accountable for this QB situation," Bruce writes via Facebook. "If Matt Leinart was not his guy, then why didn't he trade for Donovan McNabb? He could have had him for a nickel. And by the way, we were having these very same questions LAST YEAR about throwing down the field, and Kurt Warner was our quarterback. I don't know if Matty is the answer, but if Derek Anderson is our starting quarterback, he is a turnover machine and we will win six games this year. GOD HELP US."

For the record, the Cardinals apparently never had much interest in McNabb.

"The Cardinals are always mentioned as a possible future employer for McNabb, who has an offseason home in Chandler," Arizona Republic beat reporter Kent Somers wrote back in March. "I've never gotten the sense, however, that the Cardinals are all that high on McNabb."

They haven't seemed all that high on Leinart, either, but he was their starter all offseason and through training camp.

Did Leinart really go from potential franchise quarterback to potential second-stringer or, worse, potential candidate for trade/release? Did this transformation happen while he was completing 19 of 23 passes during the first three preseason games? Can the team really afford to walk away from its projected starter? Or will the situation settle down, with Leinart remaining part of the equation? It's tougher to envision that last scenario after Leinart questioned Whisenhunt's motives for making the change.

Bringing back Leinart made sense for Arizona. The Cardinals had used the 10th overall choice for Leinart without getting an extended chance to see him grow into the starting role. This season gave them one final chance to realize a return on their investment. Whisenhunt kept saying he was encouraged by Leinart's progress, growth, work ethic, etc. Whisenhunt still gives Leinart credit for developing in those areas. He pointed past Leinart to how the team was responding to the quarterback as a primary reason for the change to Anderson for the third (and now fourth) exhibition game. But there's no way a couple disappointing exhibition games should lead a team to part with a potential franchise quarterback -- particularly when that quarterback is putting up decent stats.

This can only happen if the Cardinals had serious reservations about Leinart all along, or if something significant happened behind the scenes more recently, or if ownership was more committed to Leinart than the coaching staff was -- an angle I'd like to hear Whisenhunt address.

Something isn't adding up.

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