As reported by various media outlets, including the esteemed Paul Miller on our own page, the Bills have been rumored to show interest in Cardinals’ QB Matt Leinart. While buffalobills.com reported that the Bills have not been in any discussions on Leinart, it would be foolish for the team to announce on its own web site an interest in a player they may not acquire. ESPN has cited that two sources have reported the Bills have indeed had ongoing discussions this summer about acquiring Leinart. ESPN also reported the Bills are less likely to take on Leinart due to his $7.36 million salary next season. However, I think that they need not look further than his ability to be an NFL QB to rid themselves of any ideas of acquiring the Cardinals’ backup QB.
Leinart is rumored to be on the trading block because he has not been able to outshine former Pro Bowl QB Derek Anderson. Upon further investigation, the guy Ken Whisenhunt has been starting ahead of Leinart is the 2009 backup QB on a 5-11 Browns team, who completed 44.5% of his passes last season, throwing 3 tds and 10 ints in eight games. Bills’ fans may remember Anderson’s impressively terrible 2 for 17, 23 yard performance (amazingly in a 6-3 victory) against the Bills at The Ralph last season.
This has not been atypical for Leinart. He had every opportunity to win the starting job in his rookie season with the Cardinals, starting for the first time in week five of his 2006 rookie season for the 1-3 Cardinals. Warner, though difficult to remember now, came to the Cardinals after being let go by the Giants, and led the Cardinals to a 5-11 record the season before. Leinart lost his first two starts, but showed some promise throwing 4 tds and just 1 int, almost toppling the undefeated 5-0 Bears on national television, before letting them off the hook. Leinart threw just 7 tds and 11 ints the rest of the season, and ceded control of the offense to Warner for the past three seasons.
This preseason, Leinart felt he did “everything…they’ve asked me to and more,” to retain his starting role. He led his offense to three consecutive three-and-outs against the Tennessee Titans in the Cardinals’ second preseason game, those possessions being his only three in the game. If that’s more than Leinart expects of himself, I don’t think his expectations are quite as high as he perceives them to be.
Let’s compare Leinart to QBs on the Bills’ roster in terms of career statistics:
Matt Leinart – 29 games, 340-595 (completions-attempts), 57.1%, 3,893 yards, 6.5 yards per attempt, 14 tds, 20 ints, 70.8 rating, 7-10 record
Trent Edwards – 32 games, 506-826, 61.3%, 5,498 yards, 6.7 ypa, 24 tds, 25 ints, 77.9 rating, 14-16 record
Ryan Fitzpatrick – 28 games, 424-734, 57.8%, 4,104 yards, 5.6 ypa, 21 tds, 27 ints, 67.7 rating, 8-14-1 record
So if the Bills were in the market for a backup QB, Leinart might make sense without his inflated rookie contract. The other teams rumored to be interested in Leinart, the Giants and Raiders, are looking at Leinart for that specific purpose. Personally, I don’t see the need for a $7 million backup QB with Fitzpatrick and Brohm as possibilities.
Take into account that Leinart has questionable arm strength, and completed only 57 percent of his passes in all the inclement weather Arizona encounters. Then, factor in his desire to hang out with the likes of Paris Hilton, and get his picture taken while he’s out partying, and Buffalo becomes that much worse of a fit for Leinart. You thought Willis McGahee was unhappy here? Bills fans should hope Buddy ‘Nix’es this one.