QB Matt Leinart (Victor Decolongon/Getty)
Quarterback Matt Leinart has been dogged by the label that he's too "Hollywood" to fulfill his potential. In the subsequent two years, Leinart has done little to prove the label inaccurate.
That's why Internet photos showing him partying with young girls were so damaging. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has emphasized to Matt Leinart that he needs to show maturity by working harder and proving that he can lead this team.
This season is critical for Leinart and he seems to know it. At the team's recent minicamp he said, "It is time for me to step up, really time for me to go out there and play. I know the business of the game, and this game is competitive and we've got another great quarterback on this roster in Kurt Warner, who is pushing me every day to get better."
The quarterback question won't go away any time soon. Warner played well last year, throwing 27 touchdown passes, so Whisenhunt's decision to start Leinart comes with some risk.
Clearly, the honeymoon is over. Fans want to see Leinart produce something other than Internet photos. Leinart knows his situation and how damaging the recent party photos have been.
Those photos, however, don't mean that Leinart isn't working hard enough. Coaches have been pleased with his commitment this offseason.
"I've seen him up here (at the team facility) at times when he didn't have to be," Whisenhunt said, "going through tape, looking at last year, looking at technique, looking at opponents."
Whisenhunt was asked if Leinart "gets it" about how hard he just work, Whisenhunt sounded hopeful.
"You never know if they get it," he said, "but he has sure shown indications that he's committed and wants to be a good player."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Karlos Dansby (tendered at $8.065M; signed April 17).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--DL Rodney Bailey has the ability to play inside and out adds to his value.
--P Mitch Berger didn't secure the job in the final weeks of '07.
--QB Tim Hasselbeck is probably out after the addition of Brian St. Pierre.
--S Bhawoh Jue could provide depth.
--DT Ross Kolodziej was banged up last year, and he probably won't return.
--QB Tim Rattay is a solid backup but is trying to seek a No. 2 job elsewhere.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--TE Tim Euhus (not tendered as RFA) could return as a camp body.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--CB Michael Adams: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Clark Haggans: UFA Steelers; $1.5M/1 yr, SB unknown.
--P Dirk Johnson: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Travis LaBoy: UFA Titans; $22M/5 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed.
--WR Jamaica Rector: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DL Bryan Robinson: UFA Bengals; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Brian St. Pierre: UFA Steelers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Matt Stewart: UFA Browns; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--TE Jerame Tuman: FA Steelers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Troy Bienemann: ERFA; terms unknown.
--OT Elton Brown: RFA; $927,000/1 yr.
--CB Ralph Brown: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Oliver Celestin: UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Karlos Dansby: Franchise FA; $8.065M/1yr.
--CB Eric Green: RFA; $2.017M/1 yr.
--LS Nathan Hodel: UFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Ahmad Merritt: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Sean Morey: FA; had been released by Cardinals; terms unknown.
--DE Bo Schobel: Not tendered as ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Antonio Smith: RFA; $2.017M/1 yr.
--DE Joe Tafoya: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Jerheme Urban: Not tendered as RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Matt Ware: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Darryl Blackstock: Not tendered as RFA/Bengals; $560,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.
--DT Chris Cooper (released).
--S Terrence Holt (released).
--LB Brandon Johnson: Not tendered as ERFA/Bengals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Bryant Johnson: UFA 49ers; $2M/1 yr, SB unknown.
--OLB Calvin Pace: UFA Jets; $42M/6 yrs, $22M guaranteed.
--OT Oliver Ross (released).
--OG Keydrick Vincent: UFA Panthers; $2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.