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On Warner’s signing bonus

Posted by Darren Urban on January 30, 2010 – 9:00 am

There has been plenty of speculation about what happens to the balance of Kurt Warner’s signing bonus now that he retired. Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post (and a former front-office exec with the Packers) clears that up pretty simply: The Cards and Warner prepared for this day last March when he signed the contract in the first place. Warner won’t get half the signing bonus ($7.5 million) because he walks away. That means, as I have written a few times, his choice yesterday cost him $11.5 million (including the $4 million salary he also misses out on). You know you have strong conviction in a retirement decision when you do that.


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Warner retirement aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on January 29, 2010 – 5:56 pm

In the end, it all seemed kinda anticlimactic.

Kurt Warner walked out and said, right off the top and with no big buildup, that he was retiring. And, save for a couple of moments when it sounded like he might get a little dusty talking about his wife and kids, there was nothing close to tears.

I suppose that’s how I am so certain Warner a) is making the right decisions and b) doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell to pull a Favre. It seems to me guys cry at retirement press conferences most of the time because, down deep, they don’t want to be saying goodbye. They would rather keep playing, but for some reason can’t. I don’t think that’s the case for Warner, who made it clear Friday.

“There is no question in my mind I am leaving at the right time,” he said, and while it probably pained coach Ken Whisenhunt and the rest of the Cardinals’ organization (and many, many fans), who are we to argue?

We’ve all known for a while this was a possibility. I’ll be honest, knowing how much Kurt liked to play the game and how hard he fought to pull his career up by the bootstraps after it was basically dead halfway through the 2006 season, I thought he’d play out his current contract. He said as much when he signed the deal in March. Obviously, though, things changed during the season. And truthfully, there isn’t anything else for him to accomplish that he hasn’t already. Would he have liked to have won a Super Bowl in Arizona? Sure, but those aren’t odds you can bet on, and when he said today he couldn’t – mentally or emotionally – handle playing another season, then you have to move on.

Another key point, something that is always possible as a player ages (Warner will be 39 in May): “I don’t know if I could have handled playing at a lesser level. I think that would have frustrated me.”

Some other thoughts here in the wake of Warner saying farewell:

– It was interesting to hear Warner talk about the time frame of his retirement contemplation – especially with the idea that the concussion in St. Louis, while it played a part, was only just a piece of the puzzle and that he was already leaning toward it being his last season by then.

– Warner thanked all three teams he played for – the Rams, Giants and Cards – for giving him opportunities. “It took three different teams taking a chance on me at three different times, three different situations, to allow me to accomplish what I accomplished,” Warner said. When you think about it, all three teams did take a chance. Warner was an NFL nobody when he got his start with the Rams, he seemed to be a broken-down player when the Giants brought him in, and when the Cards got him, it seemed like Warner’s glory was well in the past. You could see why ending his career strong – and changing the perceptions so many had of him (and which Warner hated) – was so important.

– I would be shocked if Warner doesn’t make the Hall of Fame. Whether he makes it on the first go-round after the 2014 season is something different. If Brett Favre retires this season (and I mean really retires, not retires until mid-August), that’s a big-time quarterback who’ll be in before Warner and then it’ll come down to who else is eligible. But Warner will get in sooner rather than later, I believe.

– Warner said his newfound free time will be spent preaching his religion and speaking to groups, writing (hey, maybe he can do some work for azcardinals.com!) and perhaps some TV or radio. Plenty to keep him busy. He did say he wants to have a hand in football in some way, but emphasized anything he does will have to work around him having plenty of family time. So once again, forget about him coaching.

– Classic Kurt, but he also said he doesn’t necessarily want to be remembered for football. “ I hope people remember anything is possible. I hope that’s what people remember more than anything else. Not the way I threw the football, not the games I won, but they remember here’s a guy that believed, that worked hard, and while things didn’t always go in his favor, he continued to press through and was able to accomplish great things.”

How could you forget that about the grocery bagger?

– If you’re looking for more, there’s a photo gallery from the press conference, a top 10 list of Kurt’s best games in an Arizona uniform, and a timeline of Warner’s years as a Cardinal.

– The retirement aftershocks will be an ongoing story with regard to the team. There is a lot to write about Matt Leinart and the QB position and where this team goes from here. But like Whisenhunt repeated once or twice after Warner’s announcement, there will be plenty of time to talk about that. It’s only January. Today was about Warner, and his amazing story.

As Warner was bouncing around to do the various radio and one-on-one TV interviews after the press conference, myself and the Republic’s Kent Somers caught him quickly just to shake his hand and say thanks. As has been noted many times, if a media member could draw up the perfect athlete, it was Kurt. As we delivered our thank yous, Warner actually apologized for not returning text messages we each had sent earlier in the week. Warner was on vacation in Mexico, and while he could receive texts, he couldn’t send them, he said. I had to smile. I just assumed he wasn’t going to answer the text. I am guessing he got more than a few text messages this week. Besides, what high-profile athlete apologizes for such a thing?

Kurt Warner.


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Link to Warner press conference

Posted by Darren Urban on January 29, 2010 – 8:57 am

As we get closer to the press conference later, the link to the live stream will pop up on the home page, but for those who don’t want to wait, here’s the link: http://www.azcardinals.com/photos-videos/videos/Warner-Press-Conference-LIVE-1-PM-MST/c5457043-c60b-46b9-8741-65a6acc157e8.

And for those of you who asked, I am told the three local sports radio stations will all carry the presser live, as will all the local TV stations. NFL Network will also have it, and I believe ESPN (probably ESPNews) will use a feed from a local affiliate.

But I’ll put in my selfish plea to use the above link and give me a little traffic on azcardinals.com.


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Warner’s revelation 1 p.m. Friday

Posted by Darren Urban on January 28, 2010 – 11:35 am

The Cardinals (and Kurt Warner) have finally made it official — the press conference will be at 1 p.m. Arizona time Friday here at the team’s Tempe facility. The release says it’s a presser being put on jointly by the Cards and Warner. Again, Warner can go either way with what he says, but there is definitely a vibe that this is going to be the end.

Whatever Warner does say, we’ll carry it live here on azcardinals.com on streaming video, and we’ll cover it from all the angles — although I suppose there really is only one angle. Will he or won’t he?

P.S. No, it’s not open to the public. I expect it to be carried live on multiple TV and radio stations. But why wouldn’t you want to watch on azcardinals.com?  ;)


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Warner will have press conference Friday UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on January 27, 2010 – 12:45 pm

UPDATE IV: Kurt Warner’s agent has confirmed to the Associated Press that a press conference is scheduled for Friday for Warner to discuss his future.

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Multiple outlets are reporting Kurt Warner will have a press conference Friday here at the team facility, something I wouldn’t be surprised about but something not yet confirmed. Most reports also says Warner is expected to retire. Again, we’ll see on this. I wouldn’t be shocked with the news either way. I’ll update this if I get any further info.

UPDATE: As of now, the Cardinals have not announced any Warner press conference plans or any details. UPDATE II: Kent Somers has a little bit more info here after talking to Warner’s agent, saying the presser will “probably” be Friday. UPDATE III: And Clark Judge keeps everyone guessing a little longer, eh?


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Expect Leinart — not a QB blockbuster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 27, 2010 – 10:57 am

There has been a lot of talk of the direction the Cardinals go at quarterback if Kurt Warner walks away (and here’s where I insert the standard disclaimer for every one of these items — Warner has yet to make a decision whether he will retire or not) but it’s being made overly complicated by the rumormill.

If Warner leaves, Matt Leinart is going to have the first crack at starting quarterback.

The Cardinals aren’t going to try and trade for Donovan McNabb. They aren’t going to give up draft picks for an older QB who is going to be looking for a new contract (McNabb is scheduled to be a free agent after 2010). Maybe McNabb, who has a house in Chandler, becomes more attractive if he hits the free-agent market after next season, but that’s assuming the Eagles let him leave. But there will be no trade, even if the Eagles decide to deal him.

The Cards aren’t going to chase Michael Vick either. Vick should get released by Philly at some point, given the large amount of money ($3.75 million as a backup) he is due for next season, unless the Eagles dump McNabb. But Vick carries with him too much baggage to be worth bringing him in, and his style (including the fact he has never proven to be a consistent NFL passer) doesn’t fit the Cards’ offense. Vick is not coming to Arizona.

If Warner steps away, expect the Cards to sign some sort of veteran quarterback, but one that will likely be told he will begin behind Leinart on the depth chart. Expect the Cards to use a mid-round draft pick (or at least seriously consider it) to draft a quarterback.

But mostly, if Warner retires, expect Matt Leinart to be behind center in 2010.


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This time of year is gonna be tough

Posted by Darren Urban on January 27, 2010 – 9:31 am

Thanks, ESPN. I’m going to stab myself with a fork now.


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DRC’s learning curve

Posted by Darren Urban on January 26, 2010 – 2:01 pm

The news today from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie that he’ll be out three to four months — and hopefully be back for OTAs — is great news for both the Cards and DRC. Not only does it sooth any lingering fears after his injury in the Cards’ final game — quieting the idea the knee injury will sap him of his No. 1 gift, speed –  it means his education in the NFL will continue to happen before 2010 officially starts.

DRC is a Pro Bowler, and I believe deserved. But there is little question (and DRC will acknowledge this himself) he needs to get better in many aspects of the game. He probably needs to be willing to be a little more physical (that may be tougher in the short-term after suffering two injuries in the final three games trying to tackle) and he needs to continue in improving the mental aspect of the game, both in film study and his concentration during games (the latter was an admitted issue).

Having him available for some on-field work and meetings in the summer is crucial to DRC’s continued rise. That should happen assuming he works on his rehab, which he has already started. Heck, if DRC is already a Pro Bowler, it’s amazing to think of what he can still become.


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Rolle feeling taxed

Posted by Darren Urban on January 26, 2010 – 9:33 am

Antrel Rolle got good news yesterday when he was named to the Pro Bowl, and he’s soon going to be in good shape with his contract — either with a new long-term deal with the Cards or the ability to test free agency, in all probability, thanks to the $12-million-plus he is scheduled to make in the final year of his current contract.

He apparently will need the dough. Forbes is reporting Rolle is being hit with a $2.2 million tax bill from the IRS, stemming back to his first two NFL seasons (2005 and 2006) after an audit. Rolle is fighting the claim.


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Rolle going to Pro Bowl UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on January 25, 2010 – 9:23 am

The Cardinals are going to have a safety play in the Pro Bowl after all, now that free safety Antrel Rolle has been named to replace the Saints’ Darren Sharper in Sunday’s game. Sharper, of course, had to bail now that his team is in the Super Bowl. Strong safety Adrian Wilson had been named a starter, but he is skipping the game with his wife due to give birth very soon. Rolle will join Darnell Dockett in the game, after Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald (knee) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (knee) all bowed out.

A total of 14 Pro Bowlers were lost yesterday when the Colts and Saints each made the Super Bowl and their players were ruled out. And I’d expect a host of the many Vikings and perhaps Jets to step away too, given how close the Pro Bowl is to their championship game loss, which includes Brett Favre. In theory, the door could open for Kurt Warner, but I’m not so sure — given his situation of deciding on his football future — that he’d be jumping to play in the game himself.

UPDATE: Tony Romo has been named to the Pro Bowl to replace Favre (Donovan McNabb replaced Drew Brees), so whether Warner was an alternate behind Romo or Warner just turned it down, it doesn’t matter — Kurt won’t play in Miami.


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