Thursday, March 05, 2009
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QB Kurt Warner stays with Cardinals with $23M deal

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[March 05, 2009]  PHOENIX (AP) -- Kurt Warner is staying with the Arizona Cardinals, agreeing to a two-year, $23 million contract and ready to play after a season in which he led his team to the Super Bowl. "I'm excited about building on what we started last year, the last couple of years," the 37-year-old quarterback said at a news conference Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to getting back to football. I'm glad this is over with, but I'm extremely excited to be a Cardinal."

InsuranceWarner made a highly publicized visit to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday but had made clear he wanted to remain in Arizona, where he was the catalyst of the team's improbable run to the title game. The Cardinals have an offense tailored to Warner's skills with two of the game's top wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

Warner agreed to a deal includes a $15 million signing bonus. The agreement came after he lowered his demands Tuesday. Initially, he had sought to be among the top five paid quarterbacks in the NFL, about $14.5 million a year. But on Tuesday, he told agent Mark Bartelstein to offer Arizona a two-year, $23 million deal. The Cardinals initially had offered two years and $20 million.

Warner has been with the Cardinals for four seasons but had to win the starting job from Matt Leinart in training camp a year ago. He went on to have a Pro Bowl season that rivaled his league MVP days with the St. Louis Rams.

He started all 20 games for Arizona last season. In 16 regular-season games, Warner completed 67 percent of his throws for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions


In four playoff games, he was even better, completing 68 percent of his passes for 1,147 yards and 11 touchdowns, with three interceptions.

But for one extremely costly interception, he was brilliant in Arizona's 27-23 loss to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, completing 31 of 43 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns.

In addition, Warner was named the NFL man of the year for his off-the-field contributions to the community, as well as his playing excellence.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves called Warner "an elite player, a class act, and truly a professional back with our football team."

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"It has always been our priority to maintain the momentum that we created last year," Graves said. "Kurt Warner was important to us in maintaining that momentum. We understood that from the start."

Warner's return to the top was one of the best stories of last season, another chapter to his storybook career. His well-known tale includes stocking shelves in a supermarket, then working his way through the Arena Football League and NFL Europe to the Rams, where he was thrust into the starting job after an injury to Trent Green.

Warner led the Rams to two Super Bowls, winning one of them, in three years but lost his starting job Marc Bulger and left as a free agent for the New York Giants, where he was displaced by rookie Eli Manning. Then it was off to Arizona, where Warner was an off-and-on starter before taking over last year in Ken Whisenhunt's second season as coach.

[Associated Press; By BOB BAUM]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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