The NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone. We’ve now entered one of the most frustrating stretches to be an NFL fan: “smokescreen season.” For the next 40+ days, you’re going to hear all manner of sensational rumors. “Player A is unhappy with his team and wants out.” “Player B is a locker-room cancer and the team is looking to deal him.” “Team C has fallen in love with prospect D and is willing to mortgage the farm to draft him.” It happens every year. And every year nearly all of these rumors turn out to be fabricated. It can be hard to see through all the smoke to find out where there’s legitimate fire. Buckle up. It’s going to be a fun ride.
One place where there might be legitimate fire is in Arizona with the trade rumors surrounding quarterback Josh Rosen. It’s been widely speculated the Arizona Cardinals are going to draft former Oklahoma Sooners QB Kyler Murray first overall. It’s perhaps the biggest rumor out there today, and it’s not going away. Conventional wisdom might say Arizona is merely fanning the flames to draw trade interest for the first overall selection. However; it feels like there’s something to this rumor.
That leaves everyone with one big question: What happens with Rosen? Rosen was taken in the first round just last season by the Cardinals, ostensibly to be their franchise quarterback for the next decade. Rosen’s rookie campaign was dreadful. So much so the head coach tasked with developing the young QB was given the ax after only one season. Now with a shiny new toy coming to town in the form of Kliff Kingsbury, what happens to Rosen? It’s almost impossible to imagine the Cardinals heading into camp with both QBs on the roster, though with the current rookie pay scale it’s not out of the question.
What’s more likely is Rosen will be traded. The hot rumor is the Cardinals are seeking compensation in the second-to-third round range. At that price, every QB-needy team should be interested. Which teams make the most sense for Rosen’s services? I have three teams in mind.
When it comes to quarterbacks, Washington has had a string of terrible luck in recent years. The future looked bright after 2012. The team had drafted a stud quarterback from Baylor named Robert Griffin III. Griffin had been selected to the Pro Bowl and won the Rookie of the Year award from the Associated Press. He had led the team to the playoffs in his first season at the helm. Then disaster struck. Griffin blew out his knee in the playoffs and was never the same quarterback again. After two more years in Washington, Griffin was on his way out the door. Lucky for Washington, they had a quarterback waiting in the wings.
In stepped Kirk Cousins. Drafted the same year as Griffin, Cousins proved to be a fine insurance policy. But he never seemed to be the quarterback fans wanted him to be. He was the ultimate “win with, not because” guy. So they let him walk in free agency and brought in Alex Smith. And yet again, disaster struck. Smith would not even finish a full season before a gruesome leg injury put the remainder of his career in doubt.
Now Washington is left once again wondering what to do at the most important position in football. With as many as four quarterbacks slated to go in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and numerous other holes on the roster, the QB of the future isn’t likely to come from this draft. Or is it? With two selections in both the third and fifth rounds, Washington could put together an attractive offer for Rosen’s services. And they are in desperate need of them.
The Miami Dolphins too have had a tumultuous run at quarterback. Like Washington, Ryan Tannehill missed an entire season with a knee injury and was not the same quarterback in his return. However; Miami’s struggles have been largely self-inflicted. Miami continually hamstrung Tannehill’s development with regime changes. They failed to give him any real help in the wide receiver core. The offensive line the front office put in front of him was a disaster.
Few quarterbacks could have succeeded under these circumstances. The fact remains, Tannehill didn’t. In six healthy seasons, Tannehill led the Dolphins to only one playoff appearance. Miami has yet to move on from Tannehill, but all signs point in that direction. The team is in a full rebuild mode, and you don’t do it with a 30-year-old quarterback still recovering from a knee injury. Or one who has drawn the ire of a majority of your fan base. Miami is moving on from Tannehill. But who is going to replace him?
Unlike Washington, Miami could be in play for a first-round quarterback. It would be a long-shot, but the Dolphins could make a move to acquire Dwayne Haskins should the Giants inexplicably trot Eli Manning out for another season. The more likely move is to acquire a quarterback by other means. Prevailing thought has Miami signing a free agent quarterback as a “bridge” to the 2020 NFL Draft. The smarter move is a trade for Rosen. Miami is one of the few teams I can see giving the Cardinals more than they’re asking in a deal for the QB. If a second is what it takes to secure Rosen, it’s a necessary sacrifice. Rosen, to me, is arguably a better option than anyone in this year’s draft, next year’s draft, or on the free agent market.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots should be considered a top contender for Josh Rosen. The Patriots are coming off yet another Super Bowl victory, and the two-headed monster that is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going to be at it again for at least one more season. They’re the juggernaut that won’t stop. But Father Time is undefeated. Someday Brady is going to have to hang up the cleats. And that day is coming sooner rather than later. If that day were today, the Patriots would be woefully unprepared.
Should Brady go down for the count, the Patriots would be in the hands of journeyman QB Brian Hoyer. Hoyer can be serviceable in a spot-starter role, but he’s not a guy you want commanding the team for a full season. He’s certainly not the guy to whom you want to hand the reigns of a dynasty. The Patriots brass needs to start seriously considering life after Brady, and Rosen likely presents them with the best chance of continued success AB (After Brady).
Amazingly, even after winning the Super Bowl, New England has an incredible amount of draft capital. Shy of someone swooping in and offering the Cardinals a first for Rosen, it’s hard to imagine a team being able to put together a better package than the Patriots. With two picks in the second round and three picks in both the third and seventh rounds, New England can blow Arizona away with an offer. For a quarterback who struggled in his first season, what better situation could Rosen find himself in than sitting behind one of the three best quarterbacks of all-time? Rosen may pose a personality conflict with the Patriots. From a football standpoint, however; it’s a sound move.