Warner's future among issues facing Cardinals

Monday, January 18, 2010

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kurt Warner's possible retirement. Contract troubles with Darnell Dockett and Anquan Boldin. Oh, and a defense that was scorched for 90 points in two playoff games.

These are just some of the issues facing the Arizona Cardinals following their elimination from the playoffs in a blowout loss at New Orleans.

The ugly end ruined any chance for Arizona to repeat its magical run to the Super Bowl.

At his season-ending news conference Sunday, coach Ken Whisenhunt emphasized the positives. The Cardinals took the NFC West title for the second year in a row and won 10 games in the regular season for the first time in 33 years.

Then Warner was near prefect in a 51-45 wild card shootout against Green Bay, the highest-scoring game in NFL playoff history.

"We are two games from where we were last year. That is pretty good," Whisenhunt said. "There are a lot of teams that would switch with us. We are one of the top eight teams in the league. ... I consider it a successful season for us."

Warner, as he cleaned out his locker, said he and his wife planned to get away for a bit, but his decision on whether to return next season won't be a drawn-out affair.

"It won't be long. That's all I can say," he said. "I don't really have a date or a time but I want to make my decision real quickly for all parties involved, but I don't really know exactly when that will come."

The 38-year-old quarterback has one year, worth $11.5 million, left on the two-year contract he signed last offseason. Warner said that physically, other than the soreness from the battering he took in New Orleans, he feels "better than I've felt probably over the last three years."

Warner echoed Whisenhunt's evaluation of the season.

"I think we just continue to build on what a lot of people never expected for this organization," he said. "It's tough to go to the Super Bowl every year. It's tough to win your division two years in a row. You have to understand when it comes playoff time if you don't bring your best performance you get beat. That doesn't mean you had a lousy season."

Dockett, the big, quick defensive tackle, made the Pro Bowl as a starter. He has two years left on his contract but wants a new one that would give him money comparable to the best at his position.

Dockett said if he is to sign a new deal with Arizona, it's this offseason or never.

"If they don't want to do it, that's cool," he said. "But if I get into my last year, I'm just going to play it out and go to another team."

Boldin, who missed both playoff games with a high left ankle sprain and sprained left knee, has a year left on his contract. He passed 1,000 yards receiving for the fifth time in his seven seasons with the Cardinals.

But he turns 30 next October and has not made it through a season without injury since 2006. That, and the emergence of Steve Breaston and Early Doucet, may make Arizona unwilling to give him money comparable to the top receivers in the league.

A trade is possible, or the Cardinals may simply let Boldin play out his contract.

The Cardinals have a long list of unrestricted free agents in an environment made uncertain by the NFL's collective bargaining issues with the players union.

At the top of the list is linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was tagged as a franchise player the last two seasons.

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