Quarterbacks Off-season Analysis

The Leinart-Warner duo can make a fan's head spin, but the Cardinals locked down Leinart for the starting role in 2008. Arizona's bold message is cushioned by a 10-year veteran quarterback whose arm still sits in the top-third of the league.

The Cardinals hope Matt Leinart becomes the kind of franchise quarterback that Kurt Warner once was with the St. Louis Rams.

Warner topped 3,400 yards four times in his career, doing so in 2007 for the first time since 2001. The Cardinals want Leinart to become a comparable passer. Ken Whisenhunt all but guaranteed a starting role for Leinart in 2008. Leinart needs to concentrate on a strong start and not let Whisenhunt regret the decision.

Leinart showed little to no progress between his first and second season. In 2006, he completed 56.8 percent of his passes and threw 12 interceptions in 12 games. In 2007, he hit on 53.6 percent of his throws with four interceptions in five games.

Leinart first moved into the starting role after Warner's rocky start in 2006. Next season, Leinart will replace a born-again star rather than an inconsistent journeyman.

Whisenhunt offers the opening snaps to Leinart as long as he makes a good impression during the offseason workouts.

"[Whisenhunt] made it clear I am the quarterback, which I feel I deserve to be," Leinart said. "[But] I have to go out and prove myself. I know that. I'm not dumb."

Either way, Leinart will spend a lot of time under Warner's wing.

Notes from the Nest

Quarterbacks Tim Rattay and Tim Tim Hasselbeck are unrestricted free agents and neither is expected back. Both were signed in October after Leinart went on injured-reserve with a collarbone injury.

Rattay played in four games, completing 15 of 27 passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Hasselbeck's only action came in the season finale, when he took a knee to end a 29-point win over the Rams.

Whisenhunt would like to draft a quarterback in the middle to late rounds of the draft, so that the rookie can learn under Warner for a year before moving into a backup role. Warner has one year remaining on his four-year contract, after which he is not expected to return.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.


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