Addition by Subtraction: T.O. vs. Kurt Warner

Thrashard 340Correspondent IMarch 7, 2009

So most of us have heard this term before.

The term "addition by subtraction," as used in sports, is often referred to cutting a player to make the team better. The most recent example is Terrell Owens.

The idea is that by cutting T.O., you are ridding yourself of distractions in and out of the locker room. It's no secret that T.O. gets a lot of press coverage. Everybody wants to hear what he's going to say next.

While I don't agree with most of the things that come out of T.O.'s mouth, I can comfortably say that some of his conversations have been misconstrued by the press and blown way out of proportion. Still, right or wrong, he's a distraction.

So by cutting him, the Cowboys feel that they move on without the circus act distractions that go along with him. Many analysts feel that this was the wrong decision...that the Cowboys will now suffer without their star receiver. I disagree.

The Cowboys have a solid foundation in place. We've seen T.O. cause disaster to the 49ers. So much so that the team went 2-14 the following year. But this was a team with an assortment of issues (ranging from ownership on down). So the dropoff in performance cannot be directed at the loss of T.O.

In contrast, we saw the same disaster happen with the Eagles when T.O. tried to hold out and eventually was shown the the door. The Eagles bounced back from a 6-10 record during a T.O. "distraction" year to 10-6 the following season.

It should also be noted that the Eagles had the No. 2 offense the year after T.O. was released. So life goes on without T.O.

The Eagles had a solid foundation in place. They had a franchise QB (McNabb), a playmaking RB (Westbrook) and a "not so stellar, but respectable" defense. The 49ers didn't have any of this after T.O. left.

The Cowboys have a franchise QB (Romo...still learning, but can make some impressive throws), a solid RB duo (led by Barber), a stud TE (Witten) and a solid defense. The Cowboys will play better as a team for 2009...and that's with or without Roy Williams (receiver).

The reason why I started this article was to talk about Kurt Warner. You're asking yourself "How does this apply to T.O.? Warner is still with the Cardinals and he's not a distraction." Good question. I merely wanted to show the two faces of "addition by subtraction".

This past week, we saw a spectacle of a show which started with Kurt Warner not signing the Cardinals original offer, and then sending his agent to San Francisco which led to a visit by Warner himself and ultimately the power of God telling Warner to get up 45 minutes into Coach Singletary's speech and fly back to Arizona.

Well everything is happy-land back in Arizona but the whole episode caused a scene here in San Francisco. Local radio shows and newspapers criticize the 49ers for creating speculation on Warner and sending mixed messages to the current QB's and fans.

There were several questions asked. Why bring Warner in and let him walk away without a deal? Where does Warner fit?

I'm with the rest of the general populace in believing that this was a leveraging tactic by Warner's agent. From start to finish, I never suspected Warner would sign with the 49ers. I also firmly believe the 49ers felt the same way. So why bring him in?

In my opinion, this was a calculated risk. What if you knew that you could potentially cripple your division rival by taking away their greatest asset. Would you do it? I would. That would be two easier wins during the season. And we all know that professional sports is all about winning nowadays.

Let's be realistic here. The Cardinals aren't the same team without Warner. Leinart has already shown that he can't make the same decisions and throws that Warner can.

So by signing Warner away from the Cardinals, you harm the team in a way that can't be resolved through this year's free agency or the draft.

But what if Warner did sign with the 49ers?

Simple. Shaun Hill has not been guaranteed the starting job. There will be competition. Let's say Warner came in and had a stellar camp and preseason. So he starts.

Two things can happen afterwards. 1) Warner performs horribly the first two or three games and Hill is inserted and capable of managing the offense through the rest of the season. 2) Warner performs stellar and keeps the starting gig the rest of the way. It's really a win-win.

We already know Hill can win games in the current system, so Warner failing doesn't hurt the team. The 49ers are cap-healthy. So even if Warner rides the pine for two years, it wouldn't have a considerable negative impact on the team.

But the Cardinals would be without Warner for two years. It was a calculated risk, and it didn't work. The 49ers are not worse off now than before the Warner speculation started.

But if it did work, the Cardinals wouldn't be the same team for 2009.

...addition by subtraction...the other way.