TEMPE, Ariz. – Kurt Warner is the Arizona Cardinals’ new starting quarterback.

Cardinals coach Dennis Green confirmed Wednesday what had been believed since Warner signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the team in early March. Warner, who will turn 34 next month, has said he expected to start, but Green had stated the former Super Bowl MVP would have to compete with Josh McCown for the job.

Warner, the NFL MVP in 1999 and 2001, led the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl after each of those seasons. He was chosen the game’s MVP when St. Louis beat Tennessee in the first game.

But he lost the Rams’ job to Marc Bulger in 2003 and signed with the Giants last year, competing through training camp with Eli Manning, the first pick in the 2004 draft. He started New York’s first nine games but was replaced by Manning after a loss to the Cardinals.

After the season, he voided the second year of his contract with New York and eventually signed with Arizona.

This time, the decision to make Warner the starter came earlier.

Green said he saw enough in early workouts to make his decision, even though training camp doesn’t start for another two months.

“I think the reason to do it now is that I feel he is the right guy for us, the right guy to lead our team,” Green said. “I think across-the-board leadership is going to be crucial for us.”

Green said he spoke with Warner, McCown and second-year quarterback John Navarre on Wednesday morning. McCown, entering his fourth NFL season, will be the backup, with Navarre at No. 3.

“In the National Football League you need more than one quarterback,” Green said. “We feel confident that Josh and John can play if called upon. We are very confident that this will work out.”

When Green was hired before last season, he strongly backed McCown as his starter. But the Cardinals offense sputtered and Green benched McCown for three games, all losses. McCown returned to start the final four games of the season, but seemed to have lost the coach’s confidence.

Still, McCown signed a $1.4 million tender offer with Arizona three weeks after Warner was signed.


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