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It's Official: Warner Announces His Retirement
As Arizona Republic staffer Kent Somers reminded readers this earlier week, less than an hour after the Cardinals' season ended, quarterback Kurt Warner promised he wouldn't take long to decide if it would be his last.

He made good on that promise Friday afternoon.

Warner, 38, officially announced his retirement from the NFL after 12 seasons, the last five of which were spent with the Cardinals.

Telling the assembled media he wasn't big on the drama, Warner simply stated: "I'm here to announce my retirement from the National Football League."

The news comes as no real surprise; Warner considered calling it a career after each of the last two seasons but decided quickly that he wanted to continue playing in each.

Warner appeared to be quite close to calling it a career last year, but changed his mind and signed a two-year, $23 million deal. That contract included a $15 million signing bonus, half of which is payable in 2010. It's unknown if Warner will receive that money.

He will forfeit the $4 million salary he was due.

Warner suffered a concussion this season, missing one game, and seemed genuinely concerned about his health after football. Warner also took a serious hit in the Saints game two weeks ago, suffering bruised ribs.

Warner and his wife Brenda Warner have seven children, and Warner has long expressed a desire to spend more time with them. Brenda has wanted him to retire for the past few years, but she's made it clear that the decision was her husband's to make.

Almost certainly making the decision more complicated was the fact Warner’s play clearly left him among the best in the NFL.

And that's how he'll go out after leading the Cardinals to a second straight NFC West crown -- along the way posting one of the greatest post-season performances in NFL history in Arizona’s 51-45 overtime wild card victory over Green Bay.

Warner has taken two different franchises -- the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals (throwing more than 100 touchdowns with both clubs) -- to Super Bowls (with one win as a Ram); he has been named NFL MVP twice; has been voted to the Pro Bowl four times; and likely will be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

So how do the Cardinals plan to follow up on that?

As staffer Darren Urban first reported, Matt Leinart is going to have the first crack at starting quarterback.

What won't happen?

The Cardinals aren’t going to try and trade for Donovan McNabb.

Urban explained that team officials simply aren’t going to give up draft picks for an older quarterback who is going to be looking for a new contract (McNabb is scheduled to be a free agent after 2010).

It's possible, Urban concedes, that McNabb (who has a house in the Phoenix area) becomes more attractive if he hits the free-agent market after next season. That theory, of course, assumes the Eagles let him leave.

But there will be no trade, even if the Eagles decide to deal him.

Urban went on to advise readers the Cards aren’t going to chase Michael Vick either.

Current No. 3 man Brian St. Pierre is working through back issues (issues his agent claims can be resolved without surgery) and is an unrestricted free agent to-be eager for a chance to start. With Warner retiring, it would be logical for St. Pierre, a player head coach Ken Whisenhunt likes, to re-sign in hopes of earning a spot as Leinart's backup.

Urban, however, believes the Cardinals will sign a veteran quarterback who will likely be promised the chance to begin behind Leinart on the depth chart. The team might also use a mid-round draft pick (or at least seriously consider it) to draft a quarterback.

But all scenarios begin with Leinart as the starter.

That being the case, I'll note that Somers recently reported that Leinart must regain the trust of his receivers.

"Everyone can say all the right things about believing in him, but Leinart's inaccuracy this season eroded confidence among the receiving corps," Somers advised readers.

And as suggested, Leinart also faces questions about his passion for football. He's worked hard to change that perception in the locker room the last two seasons, but Somers' contention leads me to believe Leinart still has some work to do in that regard.

Bottom line? PFT's Gregg Rosenthal summed it up well when he wrote: "After four years in the NFL, we still have no idea whether Leinart is good enough to succeed as a starting quarterback."

The Cardinals will get their answer now. So will the rest of us.

I suspect, however, we'll all see much less of an emphasis on the passing attack.

Certainly the team has the personnel necessary to make such a shift with second-year man Beanie Wells providing big-play ability and a physical presence; Tim Hightower offering versatility as a rusher, receiver and blocker; and LaRod Stephens-Howling emerging as a legitimate third-down threat.

Assuming a shift in offensive focus, the big problem for Fantasy owners will be determining the value of the receivers.

Adding to the intrigue at this point is Anquan Boldin; will he remain with the club going forward? He has one year left on his contract and could be traded.

With Leinart as the triggerman, I would suggest the receiving corps will be more than ample whether Boldin is on board or not.

I'll also suggest that Larry Fitzgerald is a front-line Fantasy receiver regardless of the QB; but he'll no longer command the top ranking he has in recent seasons -- certainly not on my list.

The values of Boldin, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and tight end Ben Patrick will also diminish in the post-Warner era.

I will, of course, watch the team closely this offseason in an effort to better define those values. As always, those interested will want to check back for more in the coming months.