(AP) The Arizona Cardinals have released quarterback Matt Leinart, ending a rocky stint with the team that began with fanfare as he was drafted 10th overall in 2006 and ended this preseason with the former USC star taking a backseat to Derek Anderson.
The team announced the decision to release the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Saturday.
Leinart played in 29 games with 17 starts for Arizona, and threw for 3,893 yards with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
Leinart came into this season looking to finally prove himself and show his teammates he was ready to handle all the responsibilities of starting as quarterback.
Leinart started the first two preseason games but was mostly unimpressive.
The Cardinals started Anderson the next two games as rumors swirled about Leinart’s future with the team, and he complained to reporters about being left out of the loop, that he had outplayed Anderson in training camp and preseason, and that his problem with coach Ken Whisenhunt “probably goes beyond football.”
Leinart’s initial stint as Arizona’s starter in 2007 didn’t go so well, either.
Leinart was coming off a decent rookie season in which he threw for more than 2,500 yards and 11 touchdowns after replacing Kurt Warner in Week 5.
That gave Leinart the edge over the veteran the next training camp and the left-hander opened as starter. He lasted five games, sharing time with Warner while throwing four interceptions and two touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 61.9 before a broken collarbone ended his season.
Leinart spent the past two seasons as an understudy to Warner, who led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008 and another division title last season before retiring.
Unless the Cardinals acquire another quarterback, the team would be left with the prospect of having two rookies – John Skelton and Max Hall – back up Anderson.
Anderson spent five up-and-down seasons with the Browns, where he lost his starting job to Brady Quinn at the start of last season. He got the job back, lost it, then got it back again when Quinn got hurt.
When the former Oregon State quarterback joined the Cardinals, he said he wanted a fresh start and was excited about a new opportunity with a new team.
Anderson had been claimed off waivers by Cleveland from Baltimore in 2005. He made the Pro Bowl in 2007 when he threw for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns, leading the Browns to a 10-6 record.
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