Quarterback Matt Leinart, a Heisman Trophy winner who lost his starting position and then was replaced as backup during the preseason, was cut yesterday by the Arizona Cardinals.
Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman winner out of Ohio State University, was released by the Baltimore Ravens, who opted to start the season with two quarterbacks, Joe Flacco and Marc Bulger.
The Cardinals named Derek Anderson as their starting quarterback over Leinart, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2006.
“For both parties, this was the best direction to go,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said on the team’s website.
Arizona won’t have to pay Leinart the $2.5 million he would have earned for the coming season, or the $7.4 million plus $5.5 million roster bonus due next season, the Associated Press reported.
Rookie Max Hall was named Anderson’s backup, with John Skelton staying on as the team’s third quarterback.
Arizona also waived injured running back Alfonso Smith and linebacker Chris Johnson to cut its roster to 53 players by yesterday’s National Football League deadline.
Leinart, a Heisman Trophy winner who led the University of Southern California to two national championships, was Arizona’s first pick in the 2006 draft. He completed 340 of 595 passes for 3,893 yards, 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 29 appearances with the Cardinals.
The 27-year-old broke his collarbone in the season’s fifth game. After that he couldn’t wrestle the starting position away from Kurt Warner.
Leinart is free to sign with any team.
Smith, 26, played in 14 games over three seasons with the Ravens, completing 48 of 89 passes for 558 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked five times.
“The competition to make our team was very heated, and we decided to keep a position player rather than a third quarterback,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said on the team’s website. “We have a number of young guys who made our team who have tremendous upside, plus they can help us win this year.”
In 2006, the Ravens went with two quarterbacks, Newsome said.