QB wants four-year contract
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kurt Warner made the Arizona Cardinals his first stop as a free agent looking for a home Thursday and said that he expects to compete for and win the starting quarterback job with whatever team signs him.
"I still believe that I can be a starter and play at an extremely high level in this league," Warner said after meeting coach Dennis Green and other team officials.
Warner, who lost his starting job with the New York Giants last season to rookie Eli Manning, also plans to visit the Chicago Bears on Friday and the Detroit Lions on Sunday. He expects to sign with one of those three teams.
But Warner said he was impressed by his visit and the direction Green is taking one of the least successful franchises in professional sports.
"The Cardinals have stepped up and showed a lot of interest and said all the right things," Warner said. "They're really moving in the right direction."
Warner, who said he wants a four-year contract, said of Arizona: "There's no question this is as good a situation out there for a guy in my situation."
He was one of four free agents to visit Cardinals headquarters on Thursday. The others were tight end Itula Mili and linebacker Orlando Huff, both with the Seattle Seahawks last season, and offensive tackle Oliver Ross, late of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Warner said he knows he must combat the perception that he is through as an NFL quarterback after leaving St. Louis, where he directed the Rams to two Super Bowls before losing the job to Marc Bulger.
"It's hard, because the media has made so many determinations on what's wrong with me and why I'm not in St. Louis anymore. Nobody knows the whole story," Warner said. "It's not something I'm going to talk about, but I know the reason I'm not in St. Louis is not because I can't play this football game."
He said the only way to prove critics wrong is to "show people what I'm capable of doing."
"I'm trying to find the best situation to be successful as a team but also for myself to be successful and to be a starter," he said. "I'm not ready to reserve myself to be a backup on this team, because with the talent that's out there, I believe that I can be a starter."
Coincidentally, Warner's last game as a starter came in Arizona when he was sacked six times in the Cardinals' 17-14 victory over the Giants.
The other three players also said they liked what they heard in their meetings.
The most intriguing prospect might be Ross, part of a successful team who said he could add some attitude to an offensive line often criticized for simply being too passive.
"Yeah, I think I can do that," Ross said with a laugh. "It was almost to the point last year where the coaches were trying to calm me down a little bit. I guess I was too aggressive -- not a bad thing."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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