The Texans have signed free agent quarterback Matt Leinart, the team announced today.
Leinart (6-5, 232), the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner at USC and 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft, was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday after entering training camp as the starter.
"He's obviously a talented young man to have been the 10th pick in the draft," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "Those things happen in this business, and it's a chance for him to get a fresh start. We're getting a very smart player who has been productive, and we'll see if we can kind of get the motor going again and all that back. So it's a nice try for us as a football team and it makes us deeper at the quarterback position."
Leinart joins quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the Texans' depth chart behind 2009 Pro Bowler Matt Schaub. The Texans released quarterback John David Booty, who was Leinart's successor at USC, in the final round of roster cuts on Sept. 4.
In four seasons with the Cardinals, Leinart played in 29 games with 17 starts. He threw for 3,893 yards, 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with a passer rating of 70.8.
Those numbers pale in comparison to what he did at USC. In three years as a starter, Leinart led the Trojans to two national championships and a 37-2 record. He finished second in USC history with 10,693 career passing yards and first with 99 touchdown passes and a 64.8 completion percentage, both Pac-10 records. He also set the NCAA record for lowest rate of interceptions (1.85 percent) with a minimum of 1,050 attempts, throwing only 23 interceptions in 1,245 attempts.
Leinart started 11 games as a Cardinals rookie in 2006, throwing for 2,547 yards, 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He made five starts in 2007 before suffering a season-ending broken collarbone, then mostly watched from the sidelines as Kurt Warner took over the starting job and led the Cardinals to NFC West titles in 2008 and 2009.
Leinart, 27, was in line to step in after Warner retired this offseason, but Derek Anderson surprisingly won the Cardinals' starting job late in the preseason.
"A lot of times when things don't work out somewhere else and you talk to players, you're dealing with excuses or reasons," Kubiak said. "With him, he was very complimentary of Arizona; he was disappointed, but he was very much looking forward to his next opportunity. I think he's driven to get back to playing the football he can play."
Leinart's first practice with the Texans will be on Wednesday, four days before the Texans' regular season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.