One, it eliminated any lingering doubt that the Cardinals, fresh off of a shocking run to the Super Bowl, know how to do things right. Keeping Warner was vital to the difficult chore of maintaining all of the credibility they have gained as a force to be reckoned with. Allowing him to join another team would have been added to a long line of poor decisions in the club's history.
Other teams that should feel uncomfortable about their quarterback situation:
Buffalo Bills: Trent Edwards still has much to prove.
Carolina Panthers: The lingering image of Jake Delhomme's playoff meltdown is troubling.
Jacksonville Jaguars: David Garrard needs to recapture the magic of '07.
Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell still has plenty of maturing and developing to do.
Secondly, Warner's agreeing to two-year deal with the Cards -- rather than signing with San Francisco 49ers -- brings a little more focus to what still is a mostly fuzzy quarterbacking picture in the NFL.
Combined with Kerry Collins' re-signing with the Tennessee Titans and the trades that sent Sage Rosenfels to the Minnesota Vikings and Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona's retention of Warner leaves four fewer questions at the position than the league had at the start of the offseason. (OK, saying that Rosenfels is truly an answer to the Vikes' perpetual QB instability is a bit of a reach, but at least counts as being somewhat proactive).
Many other questions linger, such as:
Will the New York Jets stay in-house for a replacement for the retired Brett Favre or pursue someone from the outside?
In talking with multiple NFL front-office people, I am moving more in the direction of believing that new coach Rex Ryan will have no problem picking a starter from among his unproven trio of Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, or Erik Ainge. Ryan's fundamental beliefs have not changed since he was defensive coordinator in Baltimore. He's putting together a team that will be carried by its defense, will run the ball persistently and effectively, and have a quarterback whose best trait is keeping the ball out of the opponent's hands. If he makes a few big plays, that's a bonus.
Probably nowhere on the outside. They pretty well determined that Warner was the only free-agent quarterback they wanted to pursue because his talent was so much greater than that of anyone else available. And their flirtation with Warner made a loud statement about what they think of their quarterback situation. For now, it's probably safe to assume they'll go with Shaun Hill as their starter and use the 10th overall pick to draft a franchise quarterback, perhaps Mark Sanchez of USC. They've asked Alex Smith to take a pay cut, which would make his salary more palatable for a backup role.
Possibly, but not likely. There are simply too many question marks hovering over the presumptive player they would take, Matthew Stafford of Georgia. Like Sanchez, he is entering the draft as a junior and, to a man, every player-personnel person with whom I have spoken says neither is close to ready to play as a rookie and could very well be at least two years away from starting. For the Lions, that likely means sticking with Daunte Culpepper and making the best of it until they see what the next draft brings.
I have no idea ... and I'm not sure that the Bucs do, either. They said good-bye to Jeff Garcia, and perhaps that made sense. Age and diminishing skills were clearly catching up with him. For now, Luke McCown has the job by default, but how comfortable can the Buccaneers feel about that? Not very, considering they were part of a potential trade that would have sent Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos to Tampa Bay.
Uneasy times in Mile High City
Speaking of Cutler ... what gives with his situation?
No matter how much new coach Josh McDaniels insists Cutler is off the trade market, this remains a pretty big mess that won't be easy to clean up. Cutler is angry. He doesn't understand why he wouldn't be wanted by the team whose offense he helped lead to second place in the NFL in a Pro Bowl season. Nevertheless, McDaniels has every right to want the quarterback he believes will effectively run the new scheme he is bringing to the Broncos -- an approach that just might not be a good fit for Cutler. Multiple league insiders aren't convinced Cutler will remain in the Mile High City. Stay tuned.
Eric Mangini considers the Browns' quarterback situation to be wide open, and why not? Derek Anderson went down in flames last season after looking like a star in 2007. Since arriving in Cleveland two years ago, Brady Quinn has raised more questions than answers about just how good he can be with a record of 1-2 as a starter and 563 passing yards for his career.
With Collins and Warner gone, who are the best free-agent quarterbacks left?
It is a fairly thin crop. Byron Leftwich is probably the best, yet many player-personnel types are still bothered by his long windup and lack of mobility. Garcia is the biggest name in the open market, but isn't likely to get a call unless it is some team's absolute last resort. Everyone else out there is, to quote an NFL GM, "just a guy."