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The league
Posted at 01:05 PM ET, 07/28/2011

Goodbye, Matt Lienart

Wednesday morning, I wrote a short piece that I guarantee few others would have written, sticking my neck out and risking great embarrassment in the process.

That piece is now worthless. I have deleted it and no longer need to stick my neck out. Instead, I can write a shorter piece that virtually everyone will agree with.

Here is what I now have to say: “Matt Lienart will never be anything more than a backup in the NFL.”

There will be no gasps upon reading that sentence. No shrieks. No screams or head-scratching.

Wednesday morning, I had written something quite different. I had written, “Matt Lienart will be an above-average starter in the NFL.”

That would have drawn some gasps, wouldn’t it? That would have drawn some head-scratching. And, I’d bet, more than a few comments questioning my intelligence, some from my own family members.

What happened in less than 24 hours for me to change my opinion so drastically? Lienart did something short-sighted, that’s what. And saying “short-sighted” is being polite.

Tuesday, it was announced that Lienart had worked out a deal with the Seahawks. Not only would he be reunited with his college coach, Pete Carroll, who has already shown that he can work wonders with USC reclamation projects (see Mike Williams), but the other quarterbacks on the roster aren’t exactly Bart Starr and Billy Kilmer. No, with Matt Hasselbeck gone, the Seahawks’ other quarterbacks are Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst.

As I wrote yesterday morning, this would be the greatest opportunity Lienart would ever get in the NFL. With a supportive coach behind him and only Jackson and Whitehurst on the roster, Lienart would eventually take over as starting quarterback. Maybe not right away, but at some point the starting job would be his. And, I wrote, he would prove that he can be a successful starting quarterback. Yes, he made some mistakes in Arizona. And, yes, those mistakes got him run out of town last summer. But if you remember his rookie year in Arizona, it was filled with promise. There isn’t a person in the country who didn’t think he’d be the Cardinals starting quarterback last year, other than the Cardinals coaching staff, and there isn’t a person out there who thought the best job he could find would be as the third-string QB for the Texans.

Last year was a fluke (or so I wrote). This year, with the Seahawks, he’d get his chance to put his career back on course.

All of that just disappeared as quickly as hitting the delete button.

Lienart, you see, has backed out of the deal with the Seahawks to accept a more lucrative deal to return to Houston as Matt Schaub’s backup. Or Matt Schaub and Dan Orlovsky’s backup as Orlovsky may still be ahead of Lienart on the depth chart, as he was last year. (Where fifth-round pick T.J. Yates figures into all of this is beyond me.)

According to reports, Lienart was concerned that the Seahawks would not promise him an opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job. Well, the Texans aren’t making that promise either, are they? And, unless Matt Schaub is injured (and perhaps Orlovsky, too), you’d have to believe that Lienart would have a much better chance of working his way into the starting lineup in Seattle than he ever will in Houston.

So Lienart will ride the bench in Houston. (Unless Houston cuts him at the end of training camp, as the Cardinals did last year.)

And we may never hear from him again.

Oh, sure, there will be the occasional glimpses of him holding a clipboard, with his baseball cap turned backward to let us all know that he’s enjoying himself. And maybe he’ll get to mop up a game or two if Schaub gets tired and Orlovsky misplaces his helmet. But actually becoming a legitimate NFL starter? No, Lienart seems to have thrown that away.

By Michael Kun  |  01:05 PM ET, 07/28/2011

Tags:  Michael Kun

 
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