Like we've been saying all along, Cardinals starting quarterback Kurt Warner may be playing elsewhere next season.
A blogger on azcardinals.com., the team's official Web site, reports that Warner and the team are still about $4 million a year apart on a contract. Warner wants to be paid in the range of the top five quarterbacks in the league -- guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who have Super Bowl victories for their current teams on their resumes (Brady has three).
That is, his agent is pushing for a two-year deal at $14 million-plus annually, saying things like he hopes Warner's wanting to keep his family in the Valley isn't keeping down what the Cardinals will pay him.
Not that he should, he's an agent (those lawyer jokes we've heard all our lives work even better for agents), but Mark Bartelstein doesn't factor in Warner's advanced age for a guy who must absorb licks from brutes the size of a refrigerator for a living.
That would be 38 by the time training camp starts. Manning's almost 33, and Brady will be 32 in August. NFL years are about the same as dog years.
Heisman Trophy winner and two-time NCAA National Champion Matt Leinart, Warner's backup, is 26 in May. Warner was playing in the Arena Football League when he was Leinart's age, and not long before that he was bagging groceries in Cedar Rapids Iowa.
So no need to rattle off a bunch of statistics about how much better Warner rates than Leinart. No question.
Of course Warner's stats are better. He's been around much longer. Leinart's an NFL infant, especially since he's been plagued by injuries since coming out of USC.
Hey, we hope the Cardinals re-sign everybody's favorite Bible-thumping signal-caller. But there's no reason to believe that Leinart can't be a star in the NFL, that he won't do exactly what Warner did: go on to lead a team to the Super Bowl and become its MVP. Kurt was 28 when he did that.
That's got to be what Cardinals owners Bill and Michael Bidwill are thinking. And let's stop bagging on the Bidwills, calling them skinflints. What they're offering Warner -- two years at $10 million a year or more -- is not cheapskate money.
Particularly for a guy Warner's age who took the Cards to the Super Bowl but didn't win. The fact that he was a Super Bowl champion in St. Louis doesn't count anymore, people. Not when you're talking a maximum contract.
Anyway, here's where the negotiations stand, according to Cardinals blogger Darren Urban:
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"I still hold to my feeling that, at some point, the two sides come to an agreement. It would be poor judgement on both sides to have that not happen. Will we head into free agency first? Now that is looking possible. And we'll get a better sense of which side has a better grasp on reality. The open market tends to do that."
Urban works for the Cards; presume he's heard from the Bidwills. Take it as gospel.
Oh, the team's home page offers this warning to the likes of Warner: "For Free Agents, Economy a Factor."