Matt Leinart spent the last two seasons as a backup quarterback with the… (Frederick Breedon / Associated…)
Matt Leinart was signed Tuesday by the Oakland Raiders to serve as a backup to quarterback Carson Palmer -- a role that Leinart held a decade or so ago at USC. This could be fun.
Trojans fans obviously have a lot of fond memories of the two quarterbacks, with Palmer winning the Heisman Trophy in 2002 and Leinart doing the same two years later and leading the team to a pair of national titles.
But Leinart has struggled as a pro quarterback. After being drafted 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals, Leinart struggled as a starter and eventually lost his job to veteran Kurt Warner. He spent the last two seasons as a backup in Houston and had a chance to resurrect his career last year when starter Matt Schaub broke his right foot -- only to have his own season end with a fractured collarbone.
Leinart, who was cut by the Texans during the off-season, is the only backup quarterback on Oakland's roster who has thrown a pass in the NFL. He comes to the Raiders looking for a fresh start -- the same thing Palmer did in the middle of last season after declaring himself retired from the then-hapless Bengals.
Things did not work out quite the way Palmer and the Raiders hoped. He went 4-5 as a starter, throwing for 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and the team missed the postseason (meanwhile, the Bengals made the playoffs behind rookie quarterback Andy Dalton).
But now Palmer will have that experience plus a full off-season with Oakland. And if that doesn't work out, the Raiders now have another ex-Trojan, ex-Heisman winner waiting in the wings. What could possibly go wrong?
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