Then Derek Anderson showed up.
Not only has Anderson shown up, but he's swiped the starting spot from the former future of the franchise, just two games into the preseason.
Anderson doesn't appear to be giving it back.
From the looks of it, Anderson will be the starter come Week 1 in St. Louis. That's the easy part. The hard part is how to handle the situation with Leinart.
Leinart clearly has fallen out of favor with coach Ken Whisenhunt and the organization. For the second time in his five-year career, Leinart has been replaced by a veteran seeking a career resurrection.
The last time around, it played out in storybook fashion as Kurt Warner brought a once laughable franchise to prominence on the national level.
Let's not get carried away. Anderson is no Warner or at least he appears not to be. But who could have predicted the wild success Warner experienced in the desert during the twilight of his career?
Plain and simple, nobody.
While comparing the history of Anderson and Warner stimulates good conversation, the most interesting part of this equation could be the future of the now displaced Leinart.
Arizona could simply release Leinart and part ways cold turkey, but the former Heisman Trophy winner is still thought to have some trade value.
So why not get something in return? Why they won't admit it, the Cardinals are certainly trying.
While there is value left in Leinart, judging his worth is no easy task. A seventh-round draft pick? Probably more than that considering Seneca Wallace, Shaun Hill and Byron Leftwich were all had for measly seventh rounder earlier this year.
A once prized possession such as Leinart, taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft, surely has to hold more value than that.
But after further review, maybe he doesn't.
Arizona's hand is forced, and the rest of the NFL knows it. If Anderson does indeed keep the starting job, the Cardinals have no choice but to cut the cord. Leinart will be gone, but where?
One potential landing spot is the New York Giants.
There are plenty of teams around the league in need of an upgrade at quarterback. The Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, even the Indianapolis Colts could use help behind Peyton Manning.
Peyton's old backup, Jim Sorgi, stood next in line should anything happen to Eli. However, Sorgi – who other than backing up Brett Favre, had the greatest job in sports over the past six years – has been placed on injured reserve, ending his 2010 season.
With Sorgi out of the picture, a look down the depth chart is a horrifying image for Giant fans. Rhett Bomar and undrafted free agent Dominic Randolph - neither of whom has thrown a pass in the NFL - is what they'll see.
Big Blue's next call should be to Arizona general manager Rod Graves. Graves and the Cardinals won't demand much, with a fifth or sixth-round pick likely being sufficient.
A late-round pick sounds like a fair value, as does a fresh start for Leinart.
While the thought of playing in New York may seem too much for Leinart to handle, keep in mind he thrived at USC – the mecca of college football at the time.
In Los Angeles, Leinart was the toast of the town, the golden boy. Sure, New York draws a tougher crown than Southern California, but Leinart should be up for the challenge of turning around a disappointing career.
A return to the spotlight might be just what he needs.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at email@example.com
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