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Mailbag: What if Warner called Cardinals' bluff?

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Josh from North Carolina writes: The Cardinals aren't offering Kurt Warner the same money as other Top QBs, and are clearly not intent on re-signing Anquan Boldin. Are they really about to put their stock in Matt Leinart and Steve Breaston as opposed to the guys who got them to a Super Bowl? Maybe we're about to see why the Cardinals have not been a successful organization.

Mike Sando: Life in Arizona would indeed become interesting if Kurt Warner signed with another team in free agency. The assumption has been that Warner wants to stay in Arizona and that he would probably take less money from the Cardinals before he would uproot his family and play elsewhere.

What if that assumption were false? What if Warner decided the Cardinals weren't showing him the respect he had earned by carrying that offense and taking all those hits while playing under a relatively modest contract? What if Warner hit the market, took a visit, liked what he heard and signed a contract without looking back?

With or without Warner, the 2009 Cardinals will be measured against the way they finished the 2008 season. That will be unrealistic -- 2008 was a special season -- but it will be reality. If the Cardinals were to fall off dramatically with Matt Leinart at quarterback and Warner in another uniform, the organization would surely hear about it.

The Cardinals still have time to get a deal done. I've felt all along a deal would get done to keep Warner in Arizona.

As for Anquan Boldin, his situation is a little different because he has two years remaining on his deal and the team did offer him a contract before re-signing Larry Fitzgerald.


Paco from Hermosillo, Mexico writes: Hello Sando, very intersting article, as a Cardinals fan I love what Kurt Warner has done for our team, however, this negotiation has deteriorated some his image, he said that it wasn't about the money, and I don't think he will act like Randy Jhonson, yet his agent is asking for a lot of money, as much as the Cardinals need Warner in my opinion Warner needs the Cardinals more.

He gets to play with a very talented group of receivers that help him hide his deficiencies. He is really slow with his feet and his arm is not that strong, he likes to take sometimes unnecessary risks and sometimes holds to the ball too long. He is very accurate and makes excellent reads, but I think Mat Leinart's time is coming soon, and I completely agree that no other place would be a good fit. Minnesota sounds the most interesting, but they don't have the talent at WR to exploit Kurt's abilities and it won't be easy for him to start over in a new offense this late in his career (see Brett Favre).

Of course, I want him back, and I am sure he will be back, but I don't like his agent's position. As good as he is, he is too old to receive the money he is asking for. His arm strength is not what it used to be and it will be very difficult for him to stay healthy for the whole season (even more difficult for the 2 years he is asking for). Bring him back but for the right price so that we can take care of other need we have as a team.

Mike Sando: The Cardinals have enough salary-cap space to pay Warner top dollar and still fill their other needs. I can see both sides in this negotiation. It's all good if Warner re-signs with Arizona. If he leaves and Arizona struggles without him, the Cardinals will have a hard time explaining what went wrong. What are the odds of that happening? Only Warner knows.


Toby from Granada Hills, Calif., writes: Mike, any chance the Niners will go after Chris Canty in free agency? Thanks.

Mike Sando: Haven't heard anything. Then again, the 49ers were busted for tampering last offseason. They are probably playing things close to the vest.


Mike from Oakland writes: Hey Mike, I was reading one of the Scouts, Inc. chats last week. I can't remember who was doing the chat, but he basically said he thought the 49ers should draft an OT to play LEFT tackle, not right, because he thought Staley was the worst pass-blocking LT in the league.

I actually thought Staley was pretty decent, even really good if you consider 1. It was his second year in the league, 2. It was his first year at left tackle, and 3. He's only been playing as a down lineman for a few years. Seeing the kind of improvement he makes, not just year to year but game to game, leads me to believe he's only going to get better. Am I blinded by homerism or does that statement seem way off base?

Mike Sando: Staley the worst pass-protecting left tackle in the league? I cannot believe that to be true. I thought he showed improvement and played pretty well under the circumstances, particularly once the 49ers stabilized the left guard situation by putting David Baas in the lineup.

That said, I would have no problem with the 49ers signing a top-flight left tackle. Scot McCloughan addressed this the other day.

The 49ers should be fine with Staley at left tackle. But if they find someone better suited for that position, they can feel great about moving Staley back to the right side. They would then have a very good situation at tackle. Staley does have the mentality of a right tackle. He's aggressive. Sometimes that gets him into trouble in pass protection on the left side. But I think he's an ascending young player either way.


DiLune from Seattle writes: Mike, any chance the Seahawks go after Jeff Saturday? A top quality center would be huge for the line. People point to Hutchinson leaving signaling the downfall of the line, but Tobeck's retirement hurt a lot too. Spencer doesn't seem to be up to the job.

Mike Sando: I wouldn't advise paying Saturday for past performance, but if the price were right, sure, a veteran center would help the Seahawks. Chris Spencer is entering the final year of his contract and he has yet to really seize that job and prove he's the answer for the long term.