NFL.com: Kurt Warner to Cardinals one of 20 best free agent signings ever

Mar 11, 2016, 11:01 AM
(AP photo)...
(AP photo)
(AP photo)

The Arizona Cardinals have never really been known as a team that shines during free agency.

Sure, they’ve landed some big-name players, such as Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Edgerrin James, Emmitt Smith in the ’90s and early 2000s, and then more recently Antonio Cromartie and Mike Iupati, but for the most part, they’re traditionally quiet around this time of year.

But just because they rarely go big in free agency does not mean they’ve never had success landing players in the open market, and one of their signings was named by NFL.com’s Jim Reineking as one of the top 20 free-agent signings in NFL history.

On March 6, 2005, the team signed former NFL MVP and Super Bowl winning quarterback Kurt Warner to a one-year deal worth $4 million.

5. Kurt Warner (2005, Arizona Cardinals)

Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

5. Kurt Warner (2005, Arizona Cardinals)

After orchestrating the rise of the “Greatest Show of Turf” in St. Louis, Warner helped another woebegone franchise emerge as a contender. Warner led the Cardinals — a franchise that had gone 60 years between championship games — to an unlikely Super Bowl appearance. Three of the Cardinals’ four home playoff games in team history came with Warner behind center, and each of those three games resulted in an Arizona victory.

Warner, who was 34 years old and coming off a less-than-stellar season with the New York Giants, took some time to really get his footing with the Cardinals.

He started 10 games in 2005, completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,713 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, but was unable to really separate himself from Josh McCown, who started six games for the Cardinals that season.

Things got even worse the following season, when Warner appeared in six games — starting five — as he threw for 1,377 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. That season was Matt Leinart’s first in the desert, and it appeared the former Heisman Trophy winner would be Arizona’s quarterback of the present and future.

Then the 2007 season happened, and with Ken Whisenhunt’s arrival as head coach came the revival of Warner’s career. The veteran split time with Leinart that season, but earned the starting job in 2008 and led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Warner played one more season after that, and it resulted in the team’s second consecutive NFC West championship as well as an epic victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFL’s Wild Card Round.

In all, Warner played in 61 games for the Cardinals — with 57 starts — and he completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 15,843 yards with 100 touchdowns and 59 interceptions.

So yeah, it’s safe to say that signing worked out pretty well for them.

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NFL.com: Kurt Warner to Cardinals one of 20 best free agent signings ever