Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Josh Rosen is a franchise-caliber quarterback, regardless of whether the Arizona Cardinals decide to keep him as their starter or trade him.
Armed with the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft, the Cardinals reportedly have eyes for Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, which would likely end Rosen’s time in Arizona.
“In terms of Murray, people are beginning to believe almost universally he will indeed be the No. 1 pick in this draft by the Arizona Cardinals,” NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones reported at the scouting combine Saturday. “In fact, teams picking in the top 10 believe they’ll have no chance of drafting Murray.”
Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline echoed that report Sunday: “Adding fuel to the Murray fire, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was telling people [Saturday] that it’s a ‘done deal’ the Cardinals will select the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback with the first pick of the draft. Whether or not Kingsbury has the final say on the choice remains to be seen, but stay tuned.”
If the Cardinals aren’t bluffing about Murray, they’ll have to move on from Rosen. But after trading third- and fifth-round picks to move up five spots in the first round last April to select him, they may struggle to recoup similar value a year later.
“Probably a three,” an anonymous general manager told NBC Sports’ Peter King in reference to what Arizona could fetch for Rosen. “Not what the Cardinals would think his value is.”
Settling for anything less than a first-round pick would be an enormous mistake.
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
The 22-year-old’s talent didn’t suddenly disappear after a disappointing rookie campaign. Last year’s Cardinals squad was a dumpster fire, which hindered Rosen’s ability to start his NFL career on the right foot.
Bridge quarterback Sam Bradford, who signed a one-year, $20 million contract in March, started only three games before being benched and ultimately released in November. As Arizona’s offense sputtered, first-year head coach Steve Wilks fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy after Week 7 and replaced him with Byron Leftwich, who had never called plays before. After the Cardinals finished with a league-worst 3-13 record, Wilks received his pink slip.
That disaster of a season came with the silver lining of the No. 1 overall pick. But the Cardinals shouldn’t necessarily move on from Rosen just because he struggled as a rookie.
On top of normal rookie growing pains, Arizona compounded problems by placing Rosen behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines, as ESPN’s Bill Barnwell noted:
Bill Barnwell @billbarnwell
A reminder of who was playing offensive line in front of Josh Rosen over the second half of last season (100 snaps or more): https://t.co/59fJi27MYc
Seven different starters or would-be starters—A.Q. Shipley, D.J. Humphries, Mike Iupati, Justin Pugh, Korey Cunningham, John Wetzel and Jeremy Vujnovich—were on injured reserve by the end of the 2018 regular season. Due to the constant turnover on the offensive line, opponents sacked Rosen 45 times last season.
When he was able to stand tall or step into a pocket, Rosen didn’t have much trouble delivering. He spins the ball tremendously well, and his game is predicated on anticipation, accuracy and being unafraid to deliver passes into tight spaces.
The Athletic DC’s Mark Bullock provided a few examples of big-time throws:
Mark Bullock @MarkBullockNFL
Ball placement was a big part of Rosen’s game in college. Two strong examples of that accuracy here. Tight windows, no hesitation to make the throw. https://t.co/AcFq84ehY3
Rosen needs to improve upon the 55.2 completion percentage and 14 interceptions he had as a rookie, but the Cardinals getting healthy along the offensive line and improving his supporting cast would go a long way.
Outside of future Hall of Fame wideout Larry Fitzgerald, Rosen had no other reliable receivers. Rookie Christian Kirk looked good before he suffered a broken foot in Week 13, but the rest of Arizona’s wide receivers finished with 46 combined receptions for 482 yards and two touchdowns. Multiple drops didn’t help matters.
Rosen never had an opportunity to establish a rhythm or any type of comfort level last season. Even so, he still made the type of throws that warranted his lofty draft status. According to Pro Football Focus, Rosen had the third-best passer rating from a clean pocket among all rookies, trailing only Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and Sam Darnold of the New York Jets:
Pro Football Focus @PFF
The highest passer rating from a clean pocket among rookie QBs belongs to Baker Mayfield https://t.co/A2BEbpWmFX
Rosen’s growth potential in the right system is exciting. He may not be the best fit for Kingsbury, who will want a mobile quarterback, but multiple other organizations should be willing to give up a first-round pick for him.
A bidding war could break out since Rosen is a cheaper alternative than free-agent options such as Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater, as The MMQB’s Albert Breer noted:
Albert Breer @AlbertBreer
I know @PSchrags mentioned it, but it’s worth reiterating this, on Cards QB Josh Rosen. Check out his cash outlay the next 3 years …
2019: $1.28 million
2020: $2.08 million
2021: $2.88 million
That’s $2.08 million per. Or in b/w what the 32nd and 33rd picks last year got.
The Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and New England Patriots all make sense as potential Rosen landing spots. According to Pauline, Washington has “openly spoken” about the possibility. Other teams like the New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints could come into play if they’re willing to surrender first-round picks this year or next.
NFL success is often dictated by being in the right place at the right time. Right now, Rosen isn’t in the right place, but he could be if another team is willing to pay the price commensurate with his talent.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @brentsobleski.