Sports Outside the Beltway

Matt Leinart Signs with Cardinals

Matt Leinart has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, the last first round pick in the 2006 draft to do so.

Matt Leinart ended his two-week holdout and signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The team announced the signing late Monday night and Leinart was expected to begin training camp Tuesday.

The six-year deal can bring the rookie up to $51 million, agent Tom Condon said. Leinart will be guaranteed $14 million, according to Condon. Earlier Monday, Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green criticized Leinart and his representatives for rejecting “a more than generous” offer from the team. Leinart was the last first-round pick to reach a contract agreement. ESPN first reported the agreement on “Monday Night Football.”

The agreement came three days before the Cardinals will end their camp at Northern Arizona University. They play at New England on Saturday.

After winning the Heisman Trophy, Leinart might have been the No. 1 pick in the draft a year ago, but decided to remain at USC for his senior season. This year, he unexpectedly fell to the Cardinals at the No. 10 spot, a tumble that cost him millions. He was the first quarterback chosen in the opening round by the Cardinals in 19 years. Leinart was the second quarterback chosen in the draft, behind Vince Young of Texas, who went to Tennessee with the No. 3 pick overall, and one spot ahead of Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt, who went to Denver. Young signed a six-year contract worth up to $58 million, with $25.7 million guaranteed. Cutler signed a six-year deal worth as much as $48 million, with $11 million guaranteed.

It looks to me like Leinart essentially got the slotted deal his draft position entitled him to under the NFL’s rookie system. Why a holdout was necessary to get to that point, I don’t know.

It is rather amusing, however, when players try to negotiate on the basis of where they think they should have been drafted. Both Reggie Bush and Leinart tried and failed to do that this year.

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