The Arizona Cardinals cut ties with quarterback Josh Rosen on Friday night, shipping last year’s No. 10 overall draft pick to the Miami Dolphins at a bargain price — second- and fifth-round NFL draft picks.
Rosen, a former UCLA standout, became expendable Thursday when the new-look Cardinals used the No. 1 selection on Kyler Murray, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Oklahoma.
But the way one former Cardinals star sees it, Rosen isn’t a bust but a blank canvas.
“When you go back and look at his film from Arizona, you absolutely cannot grade him off of last year,” said quarterback Carson Palmer, who played his final five years in Arizona before retiring after the 2017 season.
“You just throw that year away. He should not throw that year away. He should look at that year and figure out what to work on, or what his biggest areas of concern are, but we can’t go back and judge him on that year. It’s not fair to him.”
The Dolphins gave up the No. 62 selection, along with a fifth-rounder next year, for the rights to Rosen. Miami already had traded back in the second round from No. 48, so the move was even less costly than it would have been at the beginning of the night.
For his part, Rosen was excited. On his Instagram account, he posted a Photoshopped picture of himself in a Dolphins uniform with the caption: “LETS GO BABYYYY!!!! C’mon Miami let’s ride !!!! Go fins !!”
“It’s a clean slate, a chance to start over,” said former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, who did his share of bouncing around the league before settling in with the Oakland Raiders, earning NFL most-valuable-player honors, and getting to a Super Bowl.
“It was a bad deal in Arizona, how it all went down. The good news for him is he can quickly turn the page. He’s going to an organization that’s in desperate need of production and consistency at that position. Desperate. So he may be able to go down there and have a better career and better opportunity there in Miami than he did in Arizona.”
The Dolphins traded away longtime starter Ryan Tannehill after the season and last month signed 36-year-old journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. They passed on a chance to select a top-tier rookie with the 13th pick, either Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins or Missouri’s Drew Lock, and instead bided their time for Rosen.
The AFC East this season will have at quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots — with his six Super Bowl rings — and three potential starters taken in the top 10 picks of the 2018 draft: Rosen, Sam Darnold of the New York Jets (drafted third out of USC) and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills (taken seventh out of Wyoming). If Rosen winds up starting, he and Darnold could renew their crosstown college rivalry twice a season in the NFL.
Playing behind a porous offensive line, and surrounded by skill-position players that were either banged up or just as inexperienced as him, Rosen had a brutal rookie season. He completed 55% of his passes with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a team that finished 3-13 under coach Steve Wilks, ultimately fired after one season.
“It was so hard to watch those games, that you can’t even forecast what you might see of him in the future,” Palmer said. “It was that bad around him. He didn’t have a chance. He would catch the ball in shotgun and get hit in the face before he had a chance to get to his reads.”
Palmer compared it to the inaugural season of Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who was 0-7 as a rookie starter under coach Jeff Fisher. Goff went on to reach the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl under Sean McVay.
Of course, the chapter of Rosen’s second year has yet to be penned.
“To me, the Miami Dolphins are getting a rookie,” Palmer said. “They’re getting a rookie they can shape, they can change, they can work on a couple things fundamentally. He wouldn’t have been the 10th pick in the draft if he didn’t have arm talent and the right head on his shoulders to be able to figure out how to spit back offenses, how to learn them, how to digest them.
“There’s so many unknowns. His rookie year in the NFL is kind of similar to his whole college career. He went through a bunch of coaches, he had a bunch of injuries up front, he had injuries around him. And yet he made some amazing plays.”
Jim Caldwell, former head coach of Indianapolis and Detroit, is the quarterbacks coach in Miami under first-year head coach Brian Flores. Caldwell was Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach with the Colts from 2002-08. The offensive coordinator is Chad O’Shea, who spent the past nine years in New England.
When he learned Rosen was headed to Miami, former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer sent him a congratulations text. Dilfer, who won a Super Bowl as Baltimore’s quarterback, thinks the Dolphins staff is ideal for a cerebral young quarterback.
“Caldwell and O’Shea are guys who believe in a high-level, academic offense,” Dilfer said. “That’s what Josh needs to play in. He’ll thrive in it. The fit needs to be somewhere where he can beat you with his brains as much as his body. This is exactly what he’ll get.
“Think about it: He’s going to get the keys to the Peyton Manning offense through Caldwell. He’s going to get the keys to the Tom Brady car through the Patriots people. You’re looking at a staff that believes in the academia of football, and that’s Josh’s greatest gift.”
Rosen was recruited by and played at UCLA for Jim Mora, who could not be reached for this story. But former Bruins coach (and quarterback) Rick Neuheisel watched Rosen’s career closely and thinks this move will benefit him in a big way.
“All the adversity that Josh Rosen can endure early in his career will only serve as fuel going forward,” Neuheisel said.
“At the end of the day he’s going to look back at this and say it was a blessing. To have watched other guys get drafted before him, to have watched an organization go in another direction … Because everything in his life — it’s not his fault — but it’s been handed to him, because he’s been that talented. Now he’s kind of realizing I’m not quite the chosen one.
“If he’s ever going to become a great player, I think this is going to be the reason why.”
Jets take USC’s Edoga
The two major Los Angeles universities found themselves on the wrong side of history Friday, as for the first time in the Super Bowl era there were no USC or UCLA players selected in the first two rounds of the draft. That hadn’t happened since 1965.