NFL: Warner, Cardinals agree
Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 5, 2009
TEMPE, Ariz. ó Kurt Warner wound up right where he wanted to be, with a hefty pay raise to return to the Arizona team he led to the Super Bowl.
The 37-year-old quarterback agreed to terms Wednesday on a two-year, $23 million contract with the Cardinals.
“I love what we’ve been doing,” Warner said. “I love what we’ve been building here.”
The deal includes a $15 million signing bonus. Combined with a $4 million salary for the first year of the contract, $19 million is guaranteed.
“We’re ecstatic about the commitment the organization has made to us,” Warner said. “Now it’s my job for the next two years to go fulfill my part of the deal.”
He believes it’s his final NFL contract.
“You never say never,” Warner said, “but I’m old.”
He had talked about needing time after the season to decide whether to retire, a thought that turned out to be fleeting.
“Probably two days after the Pro Bowl all that was on my mind was football,” Warner said. “I told my wife, ‘Sorry honey, it’s not time.”‘
He said he understands that he’s getting a lot of money in a time of financial hardship for so many.
“You know the numbers are staggering, and to add to that the economy and where people are struggling, it’s tough,” Warner said. “But all I know is I’ve worked hard to get to the point that I’m at, to be in this position and have opportunities like this and I don’t regret that fact.
“The fact is that’s the market for what I do. I’m fortunate for that and I’m blessed in so many ways.”
Warner and his wife Brenda made a highly publicized visit to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, but he said he knew quickly that he wanted to return to the Cardinals.
“I told my wife probably 45 minutes into it that I just felt God say ‘You’re supposed to be in Arizona,’ ” Warner said, “and I told her that. She tried to tell me to stay open, but He just continued to confirm it.”
While the 49ers are planning a run-oriented offense, the Cardinals were among the best passing teams in the NFL, with a trio of outstanding receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.
Warner said the 49ers made him an offer that was larger than the one he agreed to in Arizona. But on the flight back from San Francisco, he said he called his agent Mark Bartelstein and told him to do what was necessary to get the Cardinals deal done.
Initially, Warner had sought to be among the top five paid quarterbacks in the NFL, about $14.5 million a year. But on Tuesday, Bartelstein offered Arizona a two-year, $23 million deal. The Cardinals initially had offered two years and $20 million.
The deal was essentially reached on Tuesday, Cardinals general manager Rod Graves said, with only a few details to be ironed out on Wednesday.
“We wanted to come up with a number that was fair to Kurt, and to be able to do that within the context of other team objectives,” Graves said.