Should the Cardinals Offer Kurt Warner a New Contract, or Turn it Over to Matt Leinart?

Cardinals starting quarterback Kurt Warner's contract expires at the end of this season, and according to the NFL News Feed, the Cards and Warner have made no progress toward a new one.

Sports pundits like those at the Chicago Tribune are already saying their cities' teams (in this case, the Bears) should make a move to snatch up Warner, once he becomes a free agent. But while the Bears may hunger for Kurt, do the Cardinals still need him? Should they offer an expensive new contract to a 37-year-old, no matter what he's done this season?

They could always make Matt Leinart the starting signal caller. We're just sayng...

Let's look at this season's highlights for QB:


Kurt Warner: Warner's pre-Cardinals career was stellar -- two-time NFL MVP, MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV, and a position as the second-most statistically accurate quarterback in NFL history, with a career average of 65. percent completed passes (only Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington has a higher percentage). In the 2008 season, Warner had 4,583 passing yards, threw for 30 touchdowns, and had a completion percentage of nearly 70 percent. Warner been named starting quarterback for the 2009 Pro Bowl, and he's led the Cards their first playoff berth since 1998. In the January 3 game against the Atlanta Falcons, Warner went 19 for 32 passing and two touchdowns, helping the Cards clinch the team's first post-season win since 1947. Of course, he performed dismally in three blowouts, after the Cards had clinched this season, but so did his offensive line and the Arizona defense.

Matt Leinart: The Heisman Trophy winner who led University of Southern California to a national championship in 2003 hasn't seen much time on the field since the Cardinals drafted him in 2006. In his first season with the Cards, Leinart started 11 games and threw for 11 touchdowns and 2,547 yards, not bad considering he sprained his left shoulder (his throwing arm) during week 16. In October of 2007, he broke his collarbone, effectively ending his season, and the Cards seem to have fallen back on Warner almost exclusively since. In 2008, Leinart only played in four games, during which he threw one touchdown pass and had a quarterback rating of 80.2 (Warner's is 96.9). Although his pro career's been plagued by injuries, Leinart's only 25, which leaves plenty of time for him to become the Cards'  "quarterback of the future" that he's been touted to be.

Here's something to think about: Leinart's salary -- a base of $14 million per year -- is four million less than Warner's.

We suspect that, given the chance, Leinart could becomethe next superstar quarterback in the NFL. But that won't ever happen if the Cardinals re-sign Warner and Leinart continues to warm the sidelines.

Despite how good Warner's been this season, we doubt the Cardinals will to pay him much (if any) more than he's making, especially with Leinart waiting in the wings. The Bidwells are still the Bidwells, and we believe the owners are itching to get the cheaper QB on the field. (Leinart would be a lot cheaper than Warner with a new contract.)

Let's hope the Cardinals get past the Carolina Panthers in Saturday night's second-round playoff game, but if they don't, it might be the last time we see Captain Kurt in a Cardinals uniform.   

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea