Kurt Warner, here concerned at the end of the Super Bowl, has to make a decision of how much money he is willing to take to stay in Arizona.
Kurt Warner and the Cardinals apparently agree on one thing – that it's hard to understand they haven't already agreed.
The team and its starting quarterback remained without a new contract Sunday night, with Warner with a chance to visit the San Francisco 49ers – and ostensibly, hearing a contract pitch – as early as Monday.
Cardinals general manager Rod Graves, after spending the bulk of the day in his office working on various free-agent tasks, said the Cards "are still very hopeful we can get a deal done with Kurt."
But his sentiments also echoed what Warner told ESPN in an interview conducted Saturday and aired Sunday on the network.
"We had hoped we would have this deal completed by now so we could focus on improving our team in other areas," Graves said.
Warner said he had "no idea" why a contract wasn't done yet, adding "I think we believed it would be a lot easier than this because all the factors are there and everything seemed like a perfect marriage. I think we are in the situation right now where, 'Why haven't we gotten this done yet?' "
The Cardinals are offering around $20 million for two seasons. Warner is seeking a two-year deal closer to $13 million or $14 million per season. He is also believed to be seeking greater guaranteed money than that offered by the Cards.
Visiting the 49ers and listening to another team's contract offer should give Warner – and indirectly, the Cardinals – a better sense of Warner's market value. Warner, who still didn't sound angry at the Cardinals despite the impasse, admitted he still didn't know exactly what contract value he should be seeking.
"You see the numbers for the top quarterbacks in the league, you see where the Cardinals are, and it's probably somewhere in the middle," Warner said. "I could see where I am justified making what the top guys make based on the way I played the last couple years.
"I think it is important for me to be compensated not only for what I hope to do the next couple of years but what I have done already for this organization. I am still trying to figure out what that number is, but we feel it is above where the Cardinals are at at this point."
Changing minds on either side will probably take a second team's offer. The Cardinals have to decide how much is the limit they are willing to pay for a quarterback who led them to the Super Bowl – but one who is turning 38 in May. Warner must decide how much money beyond $20 million it would take to make him want to uproot his family and leave what seems like the perfect football situation.
In the meantime, there is other business for Graves for which to tend. Graves said one of the immediate priorities is to work on a contract extension for Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson, who is entering the final year of his contract.
Then there is looking at free agents from other teams, although Graves again pointed out the Cards found contributing free agents last season long after the frenzy of the first few days of the open period.
"There is still a lot of time left in free agency – this is just the first weekend – and we will seek opportunities in this market but we will be wise where we spend our money," Graves said.
Graves confirmed the Cardinals have signed backup safety Keith Lewis, who was cut by the 49ers earlier this month.
The Cardinals do have three free agent visits planned for Monday: cornerback Bryant McFadden of the Steelers, running back LaMont Jordan of the Patriots and fullback John Kuhn of the Packers.
Given the Cards' current roster circumstances, the team figures to look in free agency not only at cornerback but also running back, given that the team only has three backs left from last season's active roster – Tim Hightower, Edgerrin James and Tim Castille – and that James is still a candidate to be released at some point.
Running back also figures to be a draft priority as well.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 3/1/09. Updated 3/1/09. Updated 3/2/09.