The question now will be how the team approaches the other spots at the position. Leinart had mixed success in relief appearances last season and has yet to prove over any length of time that he can pick up where Warner leaves off.
So does the team bring in a veteran to compete with Leinart, or do the Cardinals hand the job to him and concentrate on acquiring a steady backup?
Warner said he had been contemplating retirement the second half of the season, one during which he received another concussion.
"Obviously, it's been 12 unbelievable years, some of the best years of my life," Warner said. "But I want everybody to know that I'm just as excited about the next 12, that I'm excited about what lies in front of me. I'm excited about spending more time with my family, and seeing what God's going to do next."
With Warner stepping away, the complexion of the 2010 season changes dramatically. Leinart becomes the starter, and the run game takes on more importance.
Something also must be done to shore up a defense that yielded 90 points and 911 yards in two playoff games. The pass defense was suspect all season, and the team struggled against the better passing teams such as Indianapolis, Green Bay and New Orleans.
The Cardinals need an elite pass rusher off the edge and they need more depth in the secondary, especially at cornerback.
They also could lose inside linebacker Karlos Dansby to free agency, and could be very young at the linebacker spots. Personnel decisions in those areas will be vital.
On offense, the team probably will need to replace left tackle Mike Gandy, an unrestricted free agent. It's also likely the Cardinals will try to trade receiver Anquan Boldin, who has one year left on his contract.
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