Less than an hour into his visit Monday with the 49ers, Kurt Warner knew he wanted to remain with the Cardinals.
No one with the 49ers did or said anything wrong. The 49ers provided Warner and his wife, Brenda, a private plane and limousine, but Warner had a feeling he belonged in Arizona.
“I told my wife probably 45 minutes into it that I just felt God say, ‘You’re supposed to be in Arizona,’ ” Warner said. “She tried to tell me to stay open but He just continued to confirm it.”
On the flight home that night, Warner called his agent, Mark Bartelstein, with a simple message: “Hey, let’s get this thing done.”
Tuesday morning, Bartelstein made a proposal, the Cardinals countered and the two parties finally agreed Wednesday morning on a two-year, $23 million contract, including a $15 million signing bonus and salaries of $4 million each year.
Including the first year’s salary, $19 million of the deal is guaranteed.
“That was a critical element,” Bartelstein said of the guaranteed money.
With the deal done, the Cardinals are $22 million under the salary cap.
Bartelstein credited Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill, general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt for making the deal happen.
“They listened to our concerns and addressed them,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s not easy to change a stance.”
Warner offered to take $1 million less each year if the team re-signed receiver Anquan Boldin, who is unhappy with his contract. That offer is not part of the written contract, and the Cardinals said they have other priorities before addressing Boldin’s situation.
Negotiations with Warner took longer than either side expected, but the contract should carry Warner, who turns 38 this summer, through to the end of his career.
“Never say never, but I’m old,” Warner said, joking, when asked if this would be his last contract.