QB: Kurt Warner
It is not always the length of time a player spends with a team that describes his greatness. This aptly describes Kurt Warner’s tenure as the Arizona Cardinals signal caller. Warner came to Arizona as a free agent in 2005. Things didn’t start off great for Warner, as he battled injuries through his first season with the Cards. His second season wasn’t much better as he lost the starting job to the lowly Matt Leinart. However, Warner would get the job back at the end of the 2006 season and this was really the start of something special.
The 2007 season saw a vast improvement for the team. Although the team missed the playoffs, Arizona improved its record to 8-8. Warner finished with 3,417 passing yards along with 27 touchdowns. In 2008, Warner and the Cardinals’ offense exploded. Warner finished with 4,583 yards passing and 30 touchdowns and would lead the Cardinals to a 9-7 record, a miracle playoff run and ultimately their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Although they lost to the Steelers 27-23 in the Super Bowl, Warner still put up 377 yards passing, the second-highest total in Super Bowl history.
Warner would play one more season in Arizona, leading the team to a 10-6 record and a second consecutive playoff berth. However, the run would end with a second-round loss to the New Orleans Saints. The game would ultimately end Warner’s career when he was injured on a cheap hit in the first half. It was determined in 2012 that the New Orleans Saints had put a bounty on Warner. During his short time in Arizona, Warner led the team to new heights and finished with 15,899 passing yards and 100 touchdowns. Up to this point in Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals history, Kurt Warner is the greatest quarterback to ever put on the uniform, not just for this century – but all-time.
RB: Edgerrin James
Well, there haven’t exactly been very many good running backs in Arizona over the past decade and a half, so somewhat by default – Edge James makes the spot for the team. Clearly, Edgerrin James had his best years in Indianapolis where he established himself as one of the great running backs of his time. So he had pretty lofty expectations in Arizona where he spent three seasons. In those 3 years in Cardinal red and white, Edge rushed for 2,895 yards on 794 attempts (3.6 YPC) and made 16 touchdowns as well. In the passing game, James caught 74 passes for 506 receiving yards, though he wasn’t able to catch a pass for a touchdown during his time in Arizona. Overall, these numbers aren’t great but the Cardinals have really struggled in the rush game this century so Edgerrin James was the obvious choice.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
The face of the Arizona Cardinals franchise, Larry Fitzgerald was the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft and has been a superstar ever since. The uber-athletic Fitz has done nothing but catch passes and score touchdowns in Arizona. To date, he has 12,641 receiving yards and has scored 77 touchdowns. He currently ranks fifth all-time in NFL history for receiving yards per game (76.0). He also holds NFL records for most touchdowns in a postseason (7), most receptions in a postseason (30), most receiving yards in a postseason (546) and youngest player to record 700 passes.
Additionally, he hold the Cardinals franchise records for career receiving yards, career receiving touchdowns, career receptions (909), most seasons with 1,000 receiving yards (6), most season with 10+ receiving touchdowns (5) and is tied with Anquan Boldin for most seasons with 100+ receptions (2). Fitzgerald has been named to seven Pro Bowls and has been selected as an All-Pro four times. The best part for fans is Larry Fitzgerald isn’t done. He’s entering his 12th season and looks to keep building to his legacy. It’s going to be exciting to see how much more he can add to his already Hall of Fame career, but no matter what happens – he is easily the greatest Arizona Cardinal of all-time.
TE: Freddie Jones
Freddie Jones was drafted by the San Diego Chargers with their 2nd round pick (45th overall) in the 1997 NFL Draft. Jones became one of the best tight ends in the league in his 5 years with the Chargers and before the 2002 season – he signed with the Arizona Cardinals, where he played for 3 years. In those three years in AZ, Jones became a real threat from the tight end position – playing 16 games all three years – and putting up solid statistics of 144 receptions for 1,301 receiving yards and 6 TD’s to his name. Add in that with a career 404 receptions for 4,232 yards and 22 touchdowns and you have one hell of a 21st century TE – and the best one for the Cardinals of the 2000’s.