Kurt Warner has had some struggles since the 2002 season. Following his Super Bowl MVP performance in 1999 and his NFL MVP performance during the 2001-2002 season in leading the Rams back to the Big Time, Warner suffered through a string of nagging injuries accompanied by poor play which caused him to ultimately loose the starting job to then emerging QB Marc Bulger. He then traveled to join the NY Giants in the hopes of getting a starting job again, only to be replaced midseason in 2004 by rookie Eli Manning. Next stop for the journeyman: the Arizona Cardinals.
Now we are all well aware of Warner’s struggles in the beginning of the 06 season, which ultimately led to the beginning of the Matt Leinart era, but despite not being the starter he is an invaluable resource to this team. Kurt Warner is the kind of veteran you want around your locker room. He’s not out in the media seeking a trade, or trying to find a starting job somewhere else. He’s at the OTA’s and the voluntary mini-camp. He’s at the off-season workouts and doing all of the things that he should be doing: leading by example.
Warner can provide very capable play when necessary if called upon to start. Additionally, he has worked with these receivers for going on three years, so this has allowed him to develop good timing and flow with the offense. While he still has the propensity for untimely turnovers, I believe in his ability to effectively manage a game when called upon, such as his performance during the Cardinals’ victory over the Niners in San Francisco last season. There has been some chatter on fox sports and espn.com talking about Warner’s contract and surprise over the fact that the Cards didn’t try to restructure it in the off-season. This year he stands to make just over $4 million in salary making him the highest paid backup in the league. But he is worth every penny of it.
Kurt Warner knows that Matt Leinart is the franchise QB and the future of this organization. But the Cards front office also knows that there is no better mentor for Leinart than someone with Kurt’s experience, work ethic and accolades. Who better to teach Leinart the game than a former Super Bowl and League MVP. The best part about it is that there is no ego issue at the QB position with the Cards. I look at teams like Tampa Bay, Miami and Minnesota and it makes me all the more impressed with our situation in AZ. There are QB questions and battles going on all over the league, but not here. The guys in the locker room know who the starter is, but they also know that Kurt Warner is dedicated to helping this team.
This is just one example that I feel makes the Cards special this coming season. 100% attendance at voluntary mini-camp. Great attendance at the OTAs and off-season workouts. Unselfish players who have completely bought into the Whiz and his program. And veterans like Kurt Warner……..players who are committed to one goal: to bring a winner to Arizona.