Warner Makes Counteroffer to Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals Kurt Warner throws against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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Kurt Warner has made a counteroffer to the Arizona Cardinals that could pave the way for his return to the team he led to the Super Bowl.

Warner's agent said he has offered a two-year deal worth $23
million, with $12 million guaranteed.

"We had a lot of talk today and we conveyed what it means for
Kurt to stay in Arizona," agent Mark Bartelstein said Tuesday

The Cardinals reportedly offered a two-year, $20 million
contract with $10 million guaranteed. Warner had sought a deal that
would rank with the top five paid quarterbacks in the league: two
years for some $29 million.

Bartelstein said Warner's counteroffer is "clearly below what
his market value is out there and the Cardinals know that."

Warner's counteroffer came a day after he made a highly
publicized trip to California for an interview and physical exam
with the San Francisco 49ers. Warner and his wife Brenda were flown
from Phoenix by a private jet and taken to 49ers headquarters by

But with San Francisco expected to have a run-oriented attack,
Warner seemed an unlikely fit. All along, he has made it clear he
wants to stay in Arizona, where he has two of the NFL's top wide
receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

Bartelstein sounded optimistic about the chances of reaching an
agreement. He said the offer to Arizona was much less than what
Warner could have gotten from San Francisco.

"If we were to do a deal with the 49ers it would be
substantially more," Bartelstein said.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves did not return a message
left on his cell phone.

He has said repeatedly the team wants Warner back but that a
deal would have to fit in with the organization's other personnel
plans. Warner's value undoubtedly is affected by the fact he will
be 38 before next season begins.

The Arizona Republic said the team was preparing a counteroffer
of its own Tuesday night, with the possible sticking point the
amount of money guaranteed.

Warner was the heart and soul of a prolific passing offense that
led Arizona to an unexpected run to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals
had playoff victories over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia
before a thrilling 27-23 loss to Pittsburgh in Tampa. Warner
completed 31 of 43 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns
against the Steelers.

In four playoff games, Warner completed 68 percent of his passes
for 1,147 yards and 11 touchdowns, with three interceptions. That
after he completed 67 percent of his throws in the regular season
for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions.