The QBs: Jay Cutler is the Bears young gunslinger. Kurt Warner is the Cardinals wily vet. They both have thrown 11 TDs and 11 INTs. Both have been sacked way too many times. But it's hard to imagine the Bears receivers out performing the Cards'. Advantage: Warner.
This offseason, before the Bears made the blockbuster trade to get a disgruntled Jay Cutler away from Denver, Bears GM Jerry Angelo had his sights set on Warner. The former Rams and Giants QB had just led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, but there was some doubt whether Arizona would want to re-sign the then-37-year-old, especially given the money it spent in 2006 on No. 10 overall pick Matt Leinart.
So, with a slight push from the best football columnist in town, the Bears gave it some thought. And the thought they came up with was that if Warner would play for the Bears, it would be as a backup. So Warner politely declined, instead re-signing with the Cardinals, and the Bears went on to trade Kyle Orton away to the Broncos, and the rest is history.
How favorable is that history for the Bears? In the short term, not so much. Warner and Cutler have almost identical numbers through the first half of 2009. Both players have thrown 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions; Cutler's been sacked 15 times and Warner 14. And if you think the overall measure of a quarterback is how many games he wins (which is questionable logic, but that's for a different argument), well, that stat's not much help either: Both players have led their teams to 4-3 records, and both players' offenses have been only sporadically effective.
In the short term, yeah, Warner probably would have done just as good a job for the Bears as Cutler. (To be fair to Cutler, Warner has two All-Pro wideouts in Arizona.) But over the long term, it's pretty simple: Kurt Warner is 38. Jay Cutler is 26. Warner would have been a short-term fix for a franchise-old problem; Cutler is a franchise quarterback and will be for the next decade. Even if Warner would have had another MVP-level season in 2009, the answer here is pretty clear. Jay Cutler was the better get.
Tomorrow, Warner can prove his worth. But thankfully for the Bears, he'll be doing so in a red and white uniform.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. He is the editor of Yahoo! Sports's college basketball blog The Dagger and a contributor to Inside The Hall. Follow him at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com, or on Twitter.