Monday, January 26, 2009

Warner: Unheralded Free Agent

by: Mike Parker

As far as the 2009 NFC West competition is concerned, one factor remains a big question mark that nobody's bothered talking about very much:

Kurt Warner's future.

Mike Florio at the has touched on this subject today, emphasizing a few key points that could explain why this isn't being very widely discussed.

No one's saying much about it, probably because no one thinks that the Cardinals will let him get away. But with reports (per ESPN's Chris Mortensen) of the team willing to sign Warner to a two-year deal worth $8 million to $9 million per season, why shouldn't Warner find out what another team will pay?
And why not? After a season with numbers like this when most people wrote him off in Week 2, Warner has shown some kind of ungodly second wind for a player his age. I'm quite sure more than one team in this league who's stuck with an underachieving scrub (Tavaris Jackson) or injury-prone liability (Carson Palmer) would be willing to pay Warner ridiculous amounts to play for them, but that begs the question: How much gas does Warner have left in the tank?

What's more - hearing Warner's reaction to what happened to Anquan Boldin during the gut-wrenching helmet-to-helmet hit he suffered with Jets safety Eric Smith, my first instinct told me Warner pretty much decided to retire on the spot. (Something about God trying to tell him not to play anymore, I don't quite remember.) However, now that Warner's led another underdog story to the Super Bowl, I can't help but wonder where his mind is now - and more importantly, what the Cardinals' front office is thinking. Florio chimes in:
If Warner balks at the Birds' best offer, their only alternative will be to use the franchise tag to keep him in place. And that'll cost $14.8 million for one season - only a couple million less than what they're reportedly ready to pay him for twice the duration.
So, for the sake of argument, say Warner is franchised by the Cards and stays with them for a 1 to 2-year contract. How would that hurt the Seahawks' chances of winning another division title and putting the Cards back in their all-too-familiar territory of being decimated at Qwest and finishing with a 7-9 record? And if Warner retires (understandable and at least somewhat likely) or somehow gets picked up by another team (a colossal blunder on the part of the Cards), is anyone really scared of Matt Leinart possibly leading Arizona to another Cinderella season? (Assuming of course he manages to put down the beer bong, get out of bed with Victoria's Secret models and show up for practice.) DISCUSS! -END-