ESPN Reports Seahawks Have Agreed to Terms with QB Matt Leinart (....Maybe. OK, Not really, just joking. Thanks a lot ESPN. UPDATE)

Per Sando: "Note: This item initially indicated Leinart had agreed to terms on a deal with Seattle. An ESPN.com story on the Seahawks' quarterback situation indicated that was the case. I'm told that part of the story was in error and the product of a miscommunication. Leinart is in the picture for Seattle, but there is no agreement at this time."

-DK Edit: When I read the original story I noted to myself that Mort had said Leinart was still interested in the Redskins, but then printed the story because Sando, Mortensen, Schefter, and yes, even Clayton are generally pretty trustworthy. We'll see if this turns out to be an actual agreement. So keep in mind this agreement isn't necessarily set in stone.

DK Edit 2: Per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, "Texans have agreed to contract with QB Matt Leinart. Coach Gary Kubiak wanted Matt Leinart back. Leinart told Kubiak he wanted to sign with a team that would give him a chance to start. When Seattle agreed with Tavaris Jackson, that cleared the door for Leinart to return to Texans."

So there you have it. Disregard the rest of this story. Also, I'm not sure why Matt Leinart thinks he has a better chance of starting over Matt Schaub than Tarvaris Jackson. Seems to indicate he's not that intelligent. 

Sorry for quoting a story by ESPN that turned out to be a bit over eager. 

Not surprisingly, but also quite shockingly (this day has been pretty surreal), the Seahawks have agreed to terms with QB Matt Leinartper an ESPN report. 

We've written about the idea of Leinart coming here quite a bit this offseason, and opinions on it have varied. Some think he's still got a lot to prove and a ton of hidden talent, others, well, not so much. 

I wrote earlier that I wouldn't necessarily count Leinart out of the equation, and here we are. As I said, he can run the approximate system Pete Carroll wants to run - and won the Heisman doing so. Yes, he had all-world talent around him and a first-class line and run game to help him there, but somewhere down the line NFL level scouts and front offices determined he had the talent to warrant a top-10 pick. Not that those people are always right, but he has shown flashes of that talent amid the terrible play, and If that talent could be put to use in the right system, he could succeed.. theoretically.

As Leinart put it, "A lot of football is about being in the right situation at the right time with the right kind of people."

I think that's true, to a large extent, and can be said about pretty much any sport or really any profession. Sometimes, a particular situation just doesn't foster success. We've seen many players resurrect their careers by moving to a new team or system. It happens, plain and simple. Predicting who it happens to and how, though, is not easy.

I would have to think, of all the teams in the league, the 'right situation at the right time with the right kind of people' would most aptly describe the current state of the Seahawks. On paper, the Seahawks are more than right for Leinart. Now, is Leinart right for the Seahawks? THAT, my friends, is a 'whoooooole nother question,' as they say.

Steve Wyche recently did a piece on the Leinart situation as well, and here's what he had to say about his ability to still play in the NFL:

"The first thing for Leinart to fix is his persona. He is viewed as numbingly laid back, which coaches have told me screams a lack of leadership to his teammates. That's fixable. I also had a defensive coach give me a scouting report on Leinart last season, and the most damning claim was that he was easy to intercept due to his lack of anticipation.

That's an issue with some college quarterbacks from great teams. Because their receivers get so open, they don't have to throw based on timing and can hit receivers in space. The defensive coach said not being able to figure that out while on the pass-happy Cardinals damaged Leinart. Again, that's fixable."

(Former Seahawks OC Greg) Knapp told me he loved working with Leinart, who he said was really humbled by being cut after such high expectations. Leinart worked as hard as any quarterback on the team, despite doing little other than learning and practicing scout team reps all week. Knapp said Leinart would stay late a lot of nights and come in early, or on days off, to learn and practice Houston's offense -- a trait he found not only professional but admirable."

I went back and watched some limited tape of Leinart during the offseason and it's about what you'd expect: some good things and some really bad things. That being said, you can pretty much say that about any relatively inexperienced QB so I'm not necessarily counting him out completely. I don't think this is a terrible move to bring him in and see if he can succeed in the right situation at the right time with the right kind of people: a Seahawks team looking for a quarterback to step up and take control at a time when they have no clear candidate, being coached by a guy that has shown the willingness and ability to revitalize or resurrect careers of the forgotten and maimed.

Some of the things he was lauded on at USC prior to being drafted aren't things that go away - ability to diagnose defenses and change plays at the line, touch on the ball, timing with receivers. These things are important, and even though he hasn't lived up to his billing and has heretofore been a major disappointment, this doesn't mean he can't still succeed as an NFL quarterback.

Earlier this offseason, I contacted Jess Root, the manager and lead-writer of our brother-blog (the masculine and alliterative opposite of sister-station) Revenge of the Birds. He had this to say about Matt Leinart:

"Leinart is a weird topic for most of us. After the 2010 disaster we all look back in hindsight and say he should have been the guy.

Personally, I think he felt railroaded from the beginning with Whisenhunt. One flaw I think Whisenhunt has is a dislike for guys with a little bit of star power (Leinart, Beanie Wells). He was a blue-collar player that had to earn everything he ever did. The flashier guys, even if they work hard, are not Whiz guys because they are different.

As for most of us, he really did nothing at all after coming back from his broken collarbone that said that he would be great. But with the exception of a couple of bad relief appearances in 2009, he did nothing for us to say he was not going to be the guy. He completely changed as a person after he had a kid. He stopped the party scene, he starting working harder. But he says things that give the impression he doesn't quite get it.

I have a friend who knows a guy in the Cardinals' organization and based on rumor, Whiz never was sold on him. When the team was getting season ticket designs ready, the plan was to have Matty on like week 5 tix. Whiz said not a good idea. I think everyone thinks that he would have been so much better than Anderson/Hall/Skelton, but he had to be cut. His badmouthing of Whiz to the press was the end.

He never seemed to grab the team in terms of leadership. But, then again, he would have had the huddle if he had been given time and had he had success.

Bottom line...I think if he ever has to "fight" for a starting job, he will only ever be a "game manager". If a team gives him the a starting job, he will game manage for a while and eventually grow into a solid, maybe very good QB. But he seems to be the type of athlete that needs the vote of confidence from his coach and not have to look over his shoulder. Maybe that's not the type of athlete that is successful in the NFL, but he seems like that type of guy to me."

I think Jess' appraisal is pretty dead-on regarding his personality and it's interesting to get his point of view to hear that he could turn into a solid starter if given the job - I would have expected Cardinal fans to judge him more harshly after he failed to amount to anything in the desert despite using a 10th overall pick on him. That says something..., though their QB situation is just as dire as ours at the moment so that no doubt has a large part to do with it.

This next part might intrigue you a little bit. As Jess alluded to, Pete Carroll, shortly after accepting the reins for the Seahawks last season, talked to reporters about how important job-security was for Leinart and how he was floundering a bit before being given the starting job over Matt Cassell. After 'winning' that confidence from his coach, he went on to play so well he won the Heisman Trophy. Here's what Carroll said about Leinart's chances starting for the Cardinals last season:

"I know the fact when Kenny [Whisenhunt] says to Matt, 'You're my starting quarterback', it makes worlds of difference to Matt. I watched that happen when we had to choose between he and Cassel years ago. Matt was floundering. Cassel was floundering. We didn't look like we were going anywhere. Then we made a call the last day of spring practice, 'OK, if we were playing a game today, you'd be the starter, Leinart. Go ahead and take it over.'

He had a look in his eye. He said what I think he probably said to Kenny: 'You'll never regret this and you'll never have to look back.' And he just flipped and hit the switch. I think that's what he's been waiting for. He's been waiting for that recognition that you are our starting guy and I think he's going to be a terrific player. I don't know him in any other way. I don't know how to think of him in any other way than he is going to be a great performer for them."

While my first reaction is to say this goes against the whole "competition" thing that Carroll always preaches, but if you take a look back at the last season, you realize that Matt Hasselbeck was named the starting QB in training camp and he held on to that title throughout the season. The Rams game at the end of the year was an outlier but I think it was more a case where they had gameplanned around Charlie the entire week so it was smarter to just go with him at that point. Even after winning that game, Charlie was relegated back to the bench and Matt was again handed the keys. So despite this "competition" culture, I think that Pete Carroll knows the value of some continuity and confidence at the quarterback position and displayed that in 2010 by leaving Matt in for the vast majority of the time, even during his turnover-riddled series of games where he appeared to be in a fugue state every time he touched the football.

In other words, there is always competition, but Pete's not going to yank you for playing one, two, or even three or four bad games in a row. This is something to keep in mind if Leinart is able to win the starting gig. If he is able to beat Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson out, or, and hopefully this isnt' the case, or if each player is floundering so badly in camp they simply must decide on a player to throw into the fire, well, Leinart might be the guy. 

He came alive for Pete's Trojans at USC and as Pete put it, he just flipped and hit the switch. Here's to hoping that can one of these guys can make that happen this year.


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