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Ex-Trojans will be reunited in Seattle

Matt Leinart is headed for Pete Carroll's Seahawks, where he might be No. 3 on the depth chart. Bengals say Carson Palmer has retired.

July 26, 2011|Sam Farmer
  • USC quarterback Matt Leinart, left, rubs the head of USC Coach Pete Carroll following the Trojans' victory over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl. Leinart will be playing under Carroll again in Seattle.
USC quarterback Matt Leinart, left, rubs the head of USC Coach Pete Carroll… (Chris O'Meara / Associated…)

Carson Palmer might be retired.

Matt Leinart might be reborn.

On Tuesday, the first full day under the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement, the two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks from USC took widely divergent paths.

The Cincinnati Bengals say Palmer has retired — although Palmer himself has yet to talk about it publicly.

And Leinart, the No. 10 pick in 2006 who bounced from Arizona to Houston but hasn't gotten traction on his career, agreed to terms with Seattle, where he will be reunited with former Trojans coach Pete Carroll. That deal cannot be finalized until Friday, when teams are allowed to sign free agents, and Leinart didn't immediately return phone calls Tuesday.

"I do believe Matt will be successful there," said Steve Clarkson, who has worked extensively with Leinart as a quarterbacks coach for more than a decade. "Pete is very hungry to do something. Pete's one of those guys that when he gets confident about something and wants to get it done, he usually does it. Matt's going to be the beneficiary of that."

There is opportunity for Leinart in Seattle, because the Seahawks are not going to keep veteran Matt Hasselbeck, who earlier this year turned down a lucrative one-year deal.

But that doesn't mean Leinart is a lock for either of the top two spots on the depth chart. The Seahawks already have Charlie Whitehurst — they traded a second- and third-round pick to get him last year — and they have agreed to terms with Tarvaris Jackson, formerly Brett Favre's backup in Minnesota.

Just as Leinart has played for Carroll, Jackson has worked closely with Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who had the same job when they were both in Minnesota.

Still, Clarkson thinks this could be the break Leinart needs.

"Knowing Pete, he thinks he can get something out of Matt that no one else can," Clarkson said. "I think that's all Matt's looking for, a true opportunity, one he didn't feel like he got in Arizona."

The compressed schedule allowed teams to sign rookies and undrafted free agents Tuesday, as well as make trades, but won't allow veteran free agents to be signed until Friday.

As for Palmer, he had asked to be traded and said he would retire instead of returning to Cincinnati. Bengals owner Mike Brown said Tuesday that a trade is out of the question.

"I'm not expecting him to be back," Brown said. "Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment. He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment.

"We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment, we aren't going to reward him for doing it."

Other happenings Tuesday around the league:

If you heard an exhale of relief Tuesday, it's because the NFL and NFL Players Assn. officially settled all litigation. That means the Tom Brady antitrust suit and the lockout-insurance case are history.

The New York Giants signed Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, the undrafted free agent with an All-Pro story. He was chosen Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year as a sophomore in 2008 but sat out the following season when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. He returned to finish his college career in 2010.

Another layer to the story: Giants Coach Tom Coughlin, who formerly coached at Boston College, helped start a fund in the name of Jay McGillis, one of his college players who died of cancer.

Michael Vick showed up to work out at Philadelphia's training complex and suggested two-time Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson might hold out of camp in a contract dispute, something the Eagles already knew. Jackson is due to make $600,000 this season, the fourth year of his rookie deal. That might be a lot of money, but it's way below market value for Jackson.

Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb was not traded Tuesday, even though he is expected to be. His most likely landing spot is Arizona.

Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers have agreed on a one-year deal for the quarterback to return and compete for the starting job under first-year Coach Jim Harbaugh. That increases the likelihood that Hasselbeck will wind up in Tennessee instead of San Francisco.

Dallas will save $17 million of salary-cap space by cutting running back Marion Barber, receiver Roy Williams, guard Leonard Davis and kicker Kris Brown. That will be completed Thursday when teams are permitted to release players.

Apparently, not everybody was surprised by the move. In fact, Williams told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I would have done the same thing."

Honesty is the best policy. Mostly.

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