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The curious case of the Josh Rosen trade

The curious case of the Josh Rosen trade
Photo Credit - Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

When Josh Rosen was traded just a year after being drafted, he found himself in unfamiliar waters. Turns out, he might be on the move again. On May 20, 2020, Michael Giardi of NFL Media said multiple teams had contacted the Miami Dolphins, Rosen’s current team, inquiring about his availability via trade. Even with those calls, Giardi says Miami is in no hurry to let go of the QB who was selected just two years ago in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals

Rosen spent his college days playing football for the UCLA Bruins. He won the starting job as a freshman after three-year starting QB Brett Hundley left early for the 2015 Draft. Rosen spent three years starting for UCLA compiling 712 completions for 9,341 yards passing accompanied by 59 touchdowns in 30 games.

Rosen was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and ended up replacing Sam Bradford in Week 3. He was announced as the starting QB for Week 4 and played the rest of the season. Arizona was only able to muster up three victories in their 2018 campaign, all with Rosen as a starter, and set themselves up with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Cardinals would finish the 2018 season with a 3-13 record. The day after the regular season concluded, Arizona fired head coach Steve Wilks after just one year as head coach. During the offseason, general manager Steve Keim hired Kliff Kingsbury from Texas Tech, which ended up putting Rosen in a truly unique situation.

The infamous Josh Rosen trade

Remember that 2019 first overall pick that was just mentioned? The selection was the writing on the wall for Rosen. With Kingsbury in charge of the team, Arizona selected former Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray first overall, a player he had previously coached in college and was an excellent match for his offensive system.

It was clear from the moment the selection was made that Rosen would be the backup. Was it his fault? Not necessarily. Rosen was sacked 45 times during his 13 games in Arizona. The protection from the offensive line was almost non-existent. Rosen’s numbers were modest at best, completing 217 out of 393 passes for 2,278 yards, 11 TDs, and 14 interceptions. But with a QB room of Murray, Rosen, Hundley (ironically), and Drew Anderson, someone was going to get the boot, and of them, Rosen’s value was the highest.

Arizona traded Rosen on day two of the 2019 Draft to the Miami Dolphins for a 2019 second-round pick, acquired from the New Orleans Saints, and a 2020 fifth-round pick. Rosen’s move to Miami in 2019 saw him joining a team, who like Arizona, was starting over and in rebuild mode. Journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick also joined the team in the offseason and was named the starter ahead of Rosen for the 2019 season. The Dolphins took a chance on Rosen, and a relatively cheap one at that, to see what the top 10 pick could offer.

Rosen played in just six games, starting in three, and again fell victim to horrific offensive line protection. Rosen was sacked 16 times in six games and found little to no success when running the offense with just one touchdown and five interceptions. Fitzpatrick faired much better, but his experience over the years has given him intangibles in the game that Rosen just does not have.

Will Josh Rosen be traded again?

There is a big difference in the scenario Rosen finds himself in now than the one he did just a year ago. Yes, the Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 Draft, but this QB room is much smaller. Miami currently has Rosen, Tagovaila, Fitzpatrick, and Jake Rudock on the roster.

Fitzpatrick is the incumbent starter, and it would seem as though he will start the season with Tagovailoa taking over at some point. However, after the 2020 season, if/when Tagovailoa is the definite starter, it seems highly unlikely Fitzpatrick would stay with the Dolphins. At this point, Rosen would be one of the best backup QB options a team could have in the league.

Rosen has shown flashes of what many expected when he was drafted. However, it seems as though he has not been given a real chance to succeed. Between deplorable offensive line play and a lack of overall talent compared to other teams, it’s no surprise he has not found much success.

His cap hit for the 2020 season is around $2.1 million and just over $3 million in 2021. Being able to sit and continue to learn the offense and build some much-needed confidence that has taken a hit after two brutal years of football is what Rosen needs now.

The other important piece here is Miami’s current stance. As Giardi said, the Dolphins are in no hurry to ship Rosen out. The Dolphins do not necessarily need to trade him, but if another team has a QB go down early, desperation could send a great deal Miami’s way. In either case, the Dolphins are in a win-win scenario when it comes to the final decision on Rosen’s career in Miami.

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