Didn't we predict it would come to this?
Yes we did, over and over. We said Kurt Warner would seek the highest salary possible following his improbable Super Bowl run, and that the Arizona Cardinals would resist.
For two reasons: Because the Bidwills who own the franchise are known to be a tight-fisted clan. And because the Cardinals have a potential star NFL quarterback in the making.
That would be Matt Leinart, he of Heisman Trophy and two National Championships at USC fame.
Okay, everybody out there, start squealing that Leinart's not tough enough, that he was a good college QB but will never be good in the pros. That we're crazy. Start spouting statistics: Warner's and Leinart's. None of what you say will hold up.
For Christ's sake, before he was sidelined in favor of Warner at the start of last season, the stubbly faced, beer-bong-sucking signal-caller had a broken collarbone. You knuckleheads try putting on your shirt with a broken collarbone!
He couldn't amass killer stats; he hasn't had the chance.
Leinart looked good in garbage time in a couple of games this season, which (granted) isn't much, but it's something. The guy's got an arm on him.
What we're saying is, the Cardinals, in these hard economic times, probably shouldn't be paying a quarterback who'll be 38 before training camp begins any more than the $10-$12 million dollars that Bill and Michael Bidwill are reportedly offering.
Because who in his right mind would pay an athlete Warner's age -- no matter how good he was last season -- $14.5 million a year. That's what he and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, are asking these days.
Granted, Warner deserves a raise from the $4 million he earned last season. He put up great numbers (he had the second-best quarterback rating in the NFL and was third in TDs), but should he make the same money as top quarterbacks in their prime, like the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning or the New England Patriots Tom Brady.
They both have Super Bowl wins under their helmets -- Brady has three --, and they've got a much longer NFL life expectancy. So does Leinart, who'll be 26 in May.
Warner's said he'll either play for the Cards next season or retire, because he doesn't want to move his wife and seven children out of the Valley of the Sun, but his agent -- hoping to land the big payday for his client and for himself, -- told the Associated Press' Bob Baum:
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"I really hope it doesn't get used against him that he's a Cardinal."
Meaning that it'd be unfair for the Bidwills to penalize Warner for his wishes to stay put -- by giving him a raise of $4- $6-million. Please!
Noting the bad economy, Bartelstein added to the AP: "The last Kurt or I want is for anyone to feel sorry for him. That's not his or my style."
Well, maybe it's not Kurt's. Warner becomes a free agent Friday if he and the Cards don't come to terms. Teams like the Chicago Bears have expressed a keen interest in him, long-in- the-tooth or not.