Quarterback Kurt Warner answers questions during the Cardinals' final locker room session for the season, moments before the last team meeting.
There is no timetable, Kurt Warner insisted. There is no one way he is leaning, whether to play in 2009 or retire.
One thing the Cardinals quarterback did say Tuesday, as the team had exit physicals and a final meeting after losing Super Bowl XLIII, is that his spectacular 2008 year wasn?t going to play much of a role in helping him make his decision.
?It?s never about touchdown passes and winning games and all that stuff,? Warner said. ?Obviously that plays into it and it is fun, and that?s why I play the game, but that will not be the determining factor on me coming back or not coming back.?
More important is the direction the team is going and Warner?s family considerations. Warner is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month, and he would have to work out a new contract. He likely wants to see what happens with the coaching staff ? offensive coordinator Todd Haley, with whom Warner has developed a close relationship, could leave to become Kansas City?s head coach.
?I want to weigh everything,? Warner said. ?I am sure I will talk to the Cardinals
Warner did say he did not expect to sign with another team. That notion was suggested by his agent before the Super Bowl, and Warner said he wouldn?t completely close off that option. But ?there is no question I want to finish my career as an Arizona Cardinal,? Warner said. ?If I am going to play, I don?t want it to be anywhere else.?
The Cardinals want Warner to return, although finding common ground on a new contract is not a given.
?I think we have made it very clear we want Kurt back,? coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ?But we are less than 48 hours removed from the Super Bowl. There are still a lot of emotions ? and those are all decisions that will be made in time. But we have never wavered in the fact we want Kurt back.?
Besides Warner, the Cardinals? biggest free agent is linebacker Karlos Dansby, who played under the franchise designation in 2008. The team has until Feb. 19 to use the tag this year on Dansby (who would get in excess of $9 million for 2009 if that happened) or someone else.
Dansby doesn?t want the tag. He also said Tuesday he thought he would still be a Cardinal next season, while backing off statements he made during Super Bowl week that he should be the first contract situation dealt with by the organization.
?We?ve got a lot of situations to take care of in here,? Dansby said. ?Mine is one of them. I?d love to be first, but it is up to the organization. That?s on them.?
QUESTIONS ON THE D-LINE
Among the other key free agents include starting defensive ends Bertrand Berry and Antonio Smith.
Smith has the greatest chance to make big money on the free-agent market, likely more than the Cards are willing to offer. The Cards also have Calais Campbell or Kenny Iwebema to plug into the spot if Smith leaves.
?I don?t know what to expect,? said Smith, who is represented by Drew Rosenhaus. ?I really just don?t know what the next turn will be. Hopefully, I won?t have to do nothing, just re-up. I want to be here.?
Berry is in a different spot. The veteran likes it in Arizona and had a solid bounce-back season after three straight years ruined by injuries.
?My situation is up in the air,? Berry said. ?I will take a step back and focus on family. I will rest this body. I am not a spring chicken. More like a summer duck. I will get it as much rest as I can.?
Berry, who will turn 34 in training camp, did emphasize he has no thoughts of retiring.
?The ?R? word is not in my vocabulary,? Berry said. ?Let?s get that out there right now. There is no thought of that, I have no intentions of that. I am not done by a long-shot.?
WAITING ON HALEY
Haley is expected to get interviewed by the Chiefs for their vacant head coaching job, but if the Chiefs have asked the Cardinals for permission to talk to their under-contract offensive coordinator, Whisenhunt isn?t saying. (UPDATE: The Kansas City Star is reporting permission has been granted).
?I remember when I first got this job I made a comment about someone else?s quarterback and boy, did I get a lot of crap from that,? Whisenhunt said, a nod to answers about Ben Roethlisberger back in 2007 to which Roethlisberger took offense. ?So as far as these things go, I think I am going to let the team that requests permission for him handle all that. I am going to stay out of that.?
Pro Bowl wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, along with running back Edgerrin James, were not in the locker room during media availability Tuesday. James is not expected to return next season. Boldin?s status is unclear; Whisenhunt said the team still wants him and wants to make sure he is ?fairly compensated.? Boldin said during the season he wouldn?t think about his future until the season was over and has never come off his training camp comments that he didn?t want to be in Arizona long-term. ?
Unrestricted free agent cornerback Eric Green, who was inactive for two of the final four regular-season games and all four postseason games, called it ?disturbing? he was inactive for the Super Bowl and said he wouldn?t be back.
?That would be really awkward if they wanted to come back and re-sign me after having me inactive for two months,? Green said with a grin. ?No hard feelings. It?s a business. I know one thing, I will train my butt off. This whole thing has taught me a lesson and it?s something I needed. It grounded me, humbled me.?