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Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Warner makes proposal to Cardinals

By John Clayton
ESPN.com

Kurt Warner apparently didn't leave his heart in San Francisco after a successful visit with the 49ers on Monday that could net him a rich two-year contract. Warner's heart is still with the Arizona Cardinals.

Warner
Warner

While he's pondering a more lucrative offer by the 49ers, Warner reached out to the Cardinals to give them a chance to sign him at a "hometown" discount.

On Tuesday, Warner instructed his agent, Mark Bartelstein, to make a two-year, $23 million proposal to stay with the Cardinals. According to Bartelstein, Warner's proposal would include $12 million in guarantees, $6 million each season.

To further sweeten the deal to the Cardinals, Warner, through Bartelstein, is willing to reduce his contract by $1 million a year if they can successfully renegotiate the contract of wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

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

According to a source, the Cardinals improved their proposal to Warner that had been stalled for more than a week at two years and $20 million. The Cardinals are willing to give him $23 million over the next two seasons, but they are making up the difference with incentives.

On Monday, the 49ers made him an offer that is much higher than the $23 million. Though financial terms weren't available, the 49ers came closer to Warner's request to be paid among the top five quarterbacks in the league. He had been asking for a contract between $14 million and $16 million a year.

Warner is awaiting an answer from the Cardinals. He returned from his 49ers trip Monday night.

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

The trip to San Francisco insured that Warner could make more money by going to the 49ers or another team, but Warner wants to give the team he helped take to the Super Bowl the chance to keep him around for two more seasons.

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.

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.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.