Warner expected to re-sign with Cards soon

Kurt Warner and his agent must have read my latest column because apparently the free agent quarterback is on the verge of re-signing with the Arizona Cardinals according to ESPN.com. If the deal is completed, Warner is expected to receive $23 million over the next two years.

On Monday I speculated that Warner wouldn’t re-up with the Cards after making a free agent stop in San Francisco to talk with the 49ers. I concluded that with the departure of Todd Haley and the eventual/possible trade of Anquan Boldin, Warner might soon jettison as well.

Uh, not so much.

Read the rest after the jump...

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Cardinals offering over $10 mil a year to keep Warner

The defending NFC Champion Cardinals are offering quarterback Kurt Warner over $10 million a year to stay in Arizona.

Kurt WarnerWarner, whose accurate arm and flair for the passing game helped carry the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance, is hoping to land a contract offer that would reflect that he is a top five quarterback. Top five quarterbacks make between $14 million and $16 million a year. The Cardinals, according to a source, are believed to be offering between $10 million and $12 million a year.

Warner threw for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, completing 401 of 598 passes (67.1 percent).

Both sides have until Thursday night to reach a deal or he will be an unrestricted free agent starting Friday.

The only team with more cap space in the NFL right now than the Cardinals is the Buccaneers, so money isn’t an issue. It’s highly unlikely Warner hits the open market.

Warner, Cardinals to begin talking soon about new contract

Although Arizona Republic contributor Kent Somers writes that Kurt Warner and the Cardinals could begin discussing a new contract as early as this week, he also doesn’t squash the idea that Warner could still retire this offseason.

Kurt WarnerI think it’s a mistake, however, to view that as a definitive sign that Warner isn’t retiring. Warner has said there are a number of factors to consider in making the decision, and I think he’ll weigh all of them before making a commitment.

Warner has said several times that one of the most important factors will be how interested the Cardinals are in having him back. And there’s no better way to gauge that interest than seeing what the team is willing to offer in a new contract. That’s what Bartelstein is doing now. It would be silly for Warner to say he wants to play again, only to find the Cardinals are offering far below what he thinks is fair.

Another factor in Warner’s decision will be assessing the team’s determination to keep its core of talented players. He is also curious about Ken Whisenhunt’s plans for the offensive coaching staff. Warner was close with coordinator Todd Haley, now the Chiefs coach. Jeff Rutledge, the quarterbacks coach, has been fired. How Whisenhunt fills those spots will factor in Warner’s decision. It might not be a huge part of it, given that Whisenhunt is going to call plays, but it will have an impact.

Money, too, will play a part. Warner and his wife Brenda do a lot of charity work through their foundation, First Things First, and he’s told me before that he won’t have problems staying busy in retirement. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him on television, either. But there’s nowhere else he can make the kind of money the Cardinals likely will pay him — $8 million to $10 million a year.

Even with all the potential factors that Somers highlighted in his article, I think we’ll see Warner back in a Cardinal uniform for at least another year. It has to be tough for a player to taste another Super Bowl, not win it and then retire in the offseason, especially when it’s a top competitor like Warner. I bet we see a deal get done early in the free agency period.

Cards could face major changes next season

The Arizona Cardinals aren’t even a week removed from losing Super Bowl XLIII and already they need to fill both coordinator positions, convince starting quarterback Kurt Warner to return next season and deal with wide receiver Anquan Boldin’s continued unhappiness. Oh yeah, and linebacker Karlos Dansby is also set to become a free agent.

On Friday, the Chiefs hired Todd Haley – the mastermind behind the Cardinals’ dynamic offense in 2008 – to become their next head coach. Not 24 hours later, Arizona fired coordinator Clancy Pendergast, despite his success coming up with defensive schemes to thwart top NFC runners Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Brian Westbrook and Willie Parker in the playoffs.

The loss of Haley is significant because he developed all the game plans and called the plays for the Cards’ biggest strength: their offense. It’s unsure at this point why the team fired Pendergast, but the franchise must have someone waiting in the wings because you don’t make a dramatic move like that without having a game plan in place.

If Arizona can’t re-sign Warner and Dansby, then has to part with Boldin because they can’t appease his contract demands, then we could be looking at a very different Cardinals team than the one that took the field last Sunday in the Super Bowl. By all accounts, the team shouldn’t have much of a problem convincing Warner to return, but Dansby will be a highly sought-after free agent who is only 27 and in the prime of his career.

Boldin’s situation is a different animal. He requested that the team trade him last preseason due to a lack of contract respect, and then threw a tantrum on the sidelines during the NFC Championship Game because Haley replaced him during a pivotal offensive series. Just recently, Boldin said that his relationship with the Cardinals was irreparable. At the end of the day, the team might not have a choice but to cut ties with the underrated receiver and trade him so his situation doesn’t continue to be a distraction.

In order for the Cards not take a major step back, the two coordinators that the team chooses will need to be sound hires. It would be wise for Arizona to then make re-signing Warner and Dansby their next priority, and then deal with Boldin since he’s already under contract and can’t bolt on his own accord. Nevertheless, this will be an interesting offseason in Arizona.

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