Cards coach Green lashes out at Leinart, QB's holdout

Updated: August 14, 2006, 9:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green has lost his patience with rookie Matt Leinart and his contract holdout.

Green sharply criticized Leinart and his representatives on Monday for rejecting "a more than generous" offer from the team.

"It is an outstanding contract," Green said. "It's $14 million guaranteed."

Green said the deal is far more than a 10th pick would normally receive.

A team source told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Arizona's most recent offer was a six-year deal that averages $5.5 million per year with a maximum potential value of $50 million. That would make Leinart's contract comparable to that given to A.J. Hawk, this year's fifth pick, chosen by the Green Bay Packers.

However, Leinart's agent Tom Condon noted, "Anybody who does contracts will tell you that the structure of a deal is as important as the money. The two are obviously related but the structure on this deal isn't acceptable and that's why it's disappointing that the Cardinals waited a full week to give us their latest proposal. These things take work."

Leinart is the only first-round pick unsigned. The next-to-last holdout agreed to terms a week ago. That's the date, Green said, the Cardinals made their latest offer.

According to Mortensen, both sides believe that if there is not a breakthrough in the next 24-48 hours, then negotiations could be put on ice in what one side described as a "battle of wills."

Leinart might have been the No. 1 pick in the draft a year ago but he decided to remain at USC for his senior season. This year, he unexpectedly fell to the Cardinals at the No. 10 spot.

Green said the sides were at odds over the total value of the contract, which the coach said was among the top five of this year's deals with draft picks.

The main issue reportedly is the size of escalation clauses that would give Leinart additional money the more he plays.

Green was upset with the perception that Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill was being cheap in the negotiations.

"I've been here two years," Green said. "All I know is when we set out a strategy, whether it be signing Bertrand Berry, or drafting Larry Fitzgerald, Bill Bidwill has helped us get that player."

He said the signing of running back Edgerrin James was the best example.

"Edgerrin James is as big as they come," Green said. "We had our powder dry and we got a guy who's been the most significant back in the National Football League over the last seven years."

Leinart's absence was magnified when backup John Navarre threw two interceptions in Saturday's preseason opener against Pittsburgh.

Kurt Warner understands Green's frustrations.

"Coach wants guys to help us win and Matt's one of those guys that's going to make our team better," Warner said. "That sometimes can get frustrating as players, as a coach, because so much of that is out of your control."

"Leinart has missed a crucial two weeks of training camp," Warner said.

"I think everybody knows that the more days you miss, the more games you miss, the farther and farther you fall behind and the harder it is to catch up," Warner said.

He said that the number of reps a backup quarterback gets diminishes the closer it gets to the regular season. Green said he looks forward to former Super Bowl MVPs Warner and Tom Brady, "who was not a No. 10 pick," playing for a quarter in Saturday's preseason game at New England.

"It would be a shame if Matt Leinart is still sitting out there as the only player in the National Football League who is not in the National Football League, and you've got an impressive deal on the table.

"That's just the kind of mood I'm in," Green said, before he walked away.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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