Vermeil expects to see QB playing, though

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Don't expect Kurt Warner to find his next home with the coach that gave him his break in the NFL.

Vermeil, who embraced Warner as his starter in St. Louis after No. 1 quarterback Trent Green injured his knee before the 1999 season, has reluctantly decided not to pursue Warner as a backup for current team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

"We can't afford to," Vermeil said. "I don't question his ability to play at all. But we have a No. 1 and a No. 2 quarterback and we can't afford to put the money into a No. 3 guy."

Mark Bartelstein, Warner's agent, said Monday the Rams had told him they would give him his release after June 1.

Warner, meanwhile, said Tuesday he wouldn't speculate about where he might be playing football next season.

"We'll sit back and pray about it," Warner said, while attending a fundraiser for the Foothills Community Christian School in Great Falls, Mont. "There's a lot of places that I would like to go. I'm not looking at what's best for me, I'm looking at what's best for the Lord and spreading his message."

Warner praised the Rams for giving him the opportunity to be a starting quarterback.

"It was a dream job for 20 long years in my life," Warner said. "I'm indebted to them. I loved my time there. I loved the coaches and I love the players."

With Vermeil as his coach, Warner led the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl title after taking over for Green. The two-time MVP also took the Rams to the Super Bowl two years later, after Vermeil had spent a year in retirement and then moved to Kansas City.

Green, now the Kansas City starter, combined with running back Priest Holmes to give the Chiefs the No. 2 offense in the NFL last year during a 13-3 regular-season campaign. He averaged almost 250 yards passing and was named to his first Pro Bowl.

Whatever salary cap room the Chiefs can find will be devoted to defense, where the Chiefs ranked 29th last year.

"Another time, another day, I would have been interested in acquiring [Warner]," Vermeil said. "I never second-guess what another team does with their people and especially with the Rams because I know those people and care about them. But [Warner] is only 32. I can't believe he can't play. But it's a difficult situation.

"With today's salary cap, you can't pay two starters. I feel bad. He took the team to the Super Bowl twice. I think all pro teams would like to have a player who's done that stay with them his entire career. But it just didn't work. It didn't work that way with Joe Montana either. He finished his career with Kansas City."

Vermeil predicted the NFL had not heard the last of Warner.

"Kurt Warner will wind up with another team and he'll play well," he said.