Quarterback joins Arizona at top of depth chart

Updated: March 7, 2005, 1:18 PM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Kurt Warner agreed Sunday to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals, the two-time MVP's third team in three seasons.

The 33-year-old quarterback, who lost his starting job with the Giants to rookie Eli Manning last season, is to sign the contract and appear at a news conference in Arizona on Tuesday.

Warner, a former Arena Football League player, was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the St. Louis Rams. He led the Rams to the Super Bowl in 1999 and 2001, beating Tennessee and winning MVP in the 2000 game.

But after losing the starting job to Marc Bulger in St. Louis, he signed a one-year deal with the Giants before last season.

Warner visited the Cardinals on Thursday, then made a trip to Chicago for a meeting with Bears officials.

"From the beginning of this process, I was looking for the best situation for myself and my family and the Cardinals clearly represent that," Warner said in a statement released by the Cardinals. "We are very impressed with the direction the organization is headed in and couldn't be more excited to be a part of it. Even though this is a one-year deal, I really don't want to go anywhere else and would like nothing more than to end my career by helping the Cardinals win a championship."

That's a heady goal for a franchise that has had one winning season, and one playoff appearance, since moving to the desert from St. Louis in 1988.

During his stop in Arizona, Warner emphasized that he wanted a long-term contract, preferably for four years, but he settled for a one-year deal.

"Kurt wanted an opportunity to come in and prove that he was certainly deserving of a higher valued contract later down the road," said Rod Graves, Cardinals vice president for football operations. "But the important thing for his agent, Mark Bartlestein, and I was to get a contract now. This was the place he wanted to be. We wanted him."

Warner completed 174-of-277 passes for 2,054 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions last season with the Giants, going 5-2 as a starter. But he was criticized for often holding the ball too long.

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.

Warner has made it clear that he expects to be a starter, and Arizona coach Dennis Green made it clear that the opportunity for him is there. The Cardinals starter most of last season, Josh McCown, will be back next season.

"Bringing Kurt Warner on board this fast-moving train is very, very exciting," Green said in a statement. "He's proven he's one of the best competitors in the National Football League, regardless of position, and is one of the bravest quarterbacks ever to play the position. …

"Kurt is one important element in building this football team that will help us win a championship."

Warner is the second player to agree to terms with the Cardinals in the past two days. On Friday, offensive tackle Oliver Ross signed a five-year, $17.5 million contract -- $6.3 million of it in bonus and first-year salary.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press