Cards, Leinart at impasse after three days of talks

Updated: July 30, 2006, 10:52 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

 Matt Leinart
Leinart
With first-round draft choice Matt Leinart scheduled to be throwing to Arizona Cardinals receivers on Monday, the initial day of training camp practice, the agent for the former Southern California quarterback instead threw in the towel on contract negotiations.

At least for now.

"We've been [in the Phoenix area] since Friday and couldn't get it done," agent Tom Condon said Sunday night, after three days of face-to-face negotiations failed to produce an agreement for the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner. "We're hung up on a lot of issues. It's time to go home."

The 10th overall choice in the draft, and probably a bargain in that slot after he posted a brilliant 37-2 record as the Trojans' starter for three seasons, Leinart missed the team's Sunday evening deadline for reporting to training camp at Flagstaff, Ariz. The Cardinals' first practice is Monday morning, and it will take a major change in the two sides' bargaining positions for him to be on the field for that session.

Leinart has been in Phoenix for the past few days and has actually spent time throwing with some Arizona receivers. It is not known if Leinart, who wanted to be in the vicinity in the event of a contract accord, plans to stay in the area with the negotiations seemingly at an impasse.

Cardinals coach Dennis Green implied Sunday that the reason for the impasse rested more with Leinart's people than the Cardinals organization.

"I would assume that an inability to get the contract done is just some continuation of looking at what possibilities are from their end," Green told The Associated Press.

Leinart wouldn't be the first high Cardinal draft pick to hold out. But Green defended the team's dealings with recent first-round selections.

"Larry Fitzgerald got a very good deal, and he was our No. 3 pick a few years ago," Green said. "Antrel Rolle got a very good contract last year at the No. 8 pick.

"We have to understand that Matt Leinart, who we are very high on and feel is going to be a very good quarterback for us and have a great impact on the National Football League, also would have been offered a very good contract," Green said. "We've signed every other player, so there's only a certain amount of money that's available."

Leinart is expected to battle two-year veteran John Navarre for the backup job behind starter Kurt Warner. The consensus is that the Cardinals chose Leinart to groom him as the team's quarterback of the future.

During his celebrated college career, Leinart completed 807 of 1,245 passes for 10,693 yards, with 99 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions.

Condon would not discuss areas of disagreement in the talks. But one is believed to be the length of the contract, with the Cardinals holding firm on a six-year proposal and Leinart preferring five years. Teams can sign players chosen in the top half of the first round to contracts with a maximum term of six years.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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