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Kurt Warner’s Brilliant Contract Offer

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Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner

Update: Kurt Warner has reached a deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Looks like his PR move paid off quickly.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner is near the top of the list of available quarterbacks on the free agent market in the NFL. He’s fresh off leading the downtrodden Cardinals to the Super Bowl, and is prime to land a big deal with a team that needs that one missing veteran presence behind center.

At 39 years-old he’s only looking for a 2-year deal before he walks off into the sunset, so he wants the Cardinals to remain competitive. He’s been adamant that they keep his receiving core together, especially demanding the team hold onto disgruntled receiver Anquan Boldin.

Tuesday afternoon Warner flipped the script on negotiations with the Cardinals, and free agency in general, when he made his own contract offer. In a brilliant PR move, Warner regained leverage he may have lost when being public about his desire to remain in Arizona, and put tremendous pressure on the team in the process.

First, Warner snagged a big offer from a team in desperate need of a quarterback. Warner wowed the 49ers and left San Francisco with a contract offer reportedly worth much more than what the Cardinals have discussed with his agent. Seems pretty par for the course in today’s free agency, right?

He wasn’t done there. Tuesday, Warner laid the hammer down on the Cardinals. In an unprecedented move he instructed his agent, Mark Bartelstein, to offer the Cardinals a hometown discount. According to Warner offered to return for 2 years at $12 million per year.

Bartelstein said, “It’s a home run. It’s much less than what we can get on the market. We’re hoping we’re going to get a ‘yes.” But, what really puts the pressure on the Cardinals is that Warner offered to return $1 million per year if the team keeps Boldin.

Let’s take a look at what Warner has done here. He’s offered to take less money than what he can get on the market, and has an offer in hand to prove it. He’s demanded the Cardinals keep a Super Bowl team intact, but he shouldn’t come off as selfish in the media or to fans, since he’s offered to return money for keeping Boldin.

The Cardinals are in a real bind. They have an historically frugal owner that doesn’t want to guarantee Warner that much money, but after years of losing they’ve just revitalized their fan base and promised a new commitment to winning. How can the Cardinals turn this down? What would they tell the media and fans? What would they tell sponsors and tax payers that recently helped them build a new stadium?

This has the potential for so many repercussions. I’m also interested to see if Commissioner Roger Goodell has a response, or even intervenes in the negotiations. It has to be troubling to owners around the league that a free agent is asking for a provision in his contract that requires the team to keep another player. If this becomes a trend Goodell and the owners will have to address this in the next CBA with the players.

I will definitely follow how this story plays out, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts?

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Written by Brian Gleason

March 4, 2009 at 3:58 am

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