#Cardinals hope Kliff Kingsbury can bring back early-season Josh Rosen who confidently bangs Cover 2 hole shots like this one.
— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) January 8, 2019
Why it could happen
On a recent episode of “Get Up” on ESPN, Schefter said it was “not implausible” to now expect the Arizona Cardinals to look for a trade partner for quarterback Josh Rosen with the intention of drafting Murray with their first-round draft pick. The Cardinals currently own the No. 1 overall pick in the draft — Rosen is the only thing standing in their way of drafting Murray. The Cardinals used the No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Rosen.
Schefter likely floated this possibility after putting some of the pieces together. The Cardinals just hired Kliff Kingsbury to be their next head coach. Kingsbury comes from the college ranks where he coached at Texas Tech in the Big 12 Conference. Kingsbury had a bird’s eye view of the Heisman Trophy quarterback on multiple occasions. A few months ago, when head coaching in the NFL probably seemed like a long shot, Kingsbury admitted he would use the No. 1 overall pick on Murray.
Kliff Kingsbury back on October 28, 2018:
“Kyler is a freak…..I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 10, 2019
Why it won’t happen
Of course, before we assume his comments to mean a trade is a matter of when and not if, it’s important to review why he was hired in Arizona in the first place. The Cardinals made the decision to hire Kingsbury independent of Murray. They hired Kingsbury to help bring the best out of Rosen. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim called developing Rosen an “important piece of the puzzle” when it came to hiring Kingsbury, via PFT.
Kingsbury has also made it clear that he’s a big fan of what he’s seen from Rosen. Kingsbury told reporters during his presser that he has already done extensive film work on Rosen and that it’s “hard to find a guy that throws it better” than Rosen. After evaluating the prospect last offseason, we concur. Rosen is a rhythm passer with refined footwork, throwing mechanics, mental processing, and anticipation. The Cardinals had the No. 32 ranked offensive line in 2018, per Pro Football Focus. Rosen was never able to get into a rhythm and the situation around him only got worse when he lost his favorite target (Christian Kirk) to a season-ending injury.
Rosen was believed to be involved and rumored to have input in the Cardinals head coaching search. During his presser, Kingsbury reiterated the importance of calling the offensive plays in 2019 because he feels it’s an important part of his relationship with Rosen. While it’s obvious the role of developing a quarterback was an important factor in the coaching hire, even without hearing it from Kingsbury, that doesn’t exactly rule this rumor out. If the Cardinals did decide to trade Rosen with the intention of drafting Murray, Kingsbury would inherit that same role only with a rookie quarterback rather than a second-year player.
Why the Giants would be in play if it does happen
If the Cardinals do decide to trade Rosen, the New York Giants have already been rumored to be a team to watch. Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus already floated the idea of the Cardinals trading Rosen to the Giants and drafting Murray at No. 1 overall shortly after rumors circulated suggesting the Oklahoma quarterback would declare.
The Giants had an opportunity to select Rosen during the 2018 NFL Draft but they instead chose to select running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall. However, Rosen wasn’t the only quarterback prospect they passed on. The Giants passed on four of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round to draft Barkley. Baker Mayfield was the only quarterback they did not have an opportunity to draft.
The Giants did not discuss Rosen much during the pre-draft process, but general manager Dave Gettleman made it clear he did not subscribe to the rumored theory suggesting Rosen did not love the game. Gettleman shut down that narrative when asked about it during his pre-draft presser. The Giants met with Rosen for a private pre-draft visit. During this private visit, the Giants are not allowed to put Rosen through another workout on the field.
The Giants previously met with Rosen out in Los Angeles when they took him out to dinner and then put him through a private workout before his UCLA Pro Day. The Giants also met with Rosen at the NFL Combine when they used one of their 60 allotted Combine interviews on the quarterback. Giants co-owner Steve Tisch confirmed he met with Rosen when the Giants were out in Los Angeles to watch his Pro Day. Although Tisch wants to remain tight-lipped about the Giants draft process and his thoughts on the prospects, he did offer a quick compliment about his interview with Rosen.
“His table manners: Unbelievable,” Tisch said to reporters at the
Rosen spoke glowingly of his first private meeting with the Giants on the Rich Eisen Show and even discussed how hard he rooted for Eli Manning and the franchise to defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during both of their Super Bowl matchups. Rosen also decided to give a shoutout to Shurmur after his impressive Pro Day performance.
“For me the coolest part of this meeting people from all around the country,” Rosen told Mayock, via NFL.com. “I remember sitting in a meeting with the Giants and I kinda double-took it. Coach Shurmur, I just saw your press conference like two weeks ago. This is kinda cool.”
The Giants, at least reportedly, met with Rosen more times than any other quarterback prospect in the 2018 class.
In addition to the Giants, quarterback-needy franchises such as the Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Denver Broncos could also look to trade for Rosen. Only the Jaguars would have as much ammunition, from a 2019 draft capital standpoint,
Rosen had a rough rookie season behind a Cardinals offensive line that was objectively the NFL’s worst, but this should not impact his long-term projection.
According to research from Graham Barfield of NFL.com, “No quarterback was pressured more often (37.2%), threw into a tight window more often (21.6%), or had a lower expected completion percentage (59.4%)—based on the difficulty of the throw—than Josh Rosen did in 2018,” Barfield Tweeted.
Respected NFL Films guru Greg Cosell, a man who evaluates countless hours of game film every year, named Rosen a better prospect entering the NFL than Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Cosell found similarities between the two prospects.
What a trade might look like
If a trade does come to fruition, it’s important to understand teams looking to acquire Rosen would now be acquiring the rookie on a three-year contract with a fourth-year team option instead of a four-year deal with the fifth-year team option. This is important to note. In today’s modern NFL, several teams have made Super Bowl runs by leveraging the power of a quarterback on his rookie contract. When you hit on a quarterback and he is still on his rookie deal, it provides your team with an incredible advantage from a salary cap standpoint. While other NFL teams are allocating $20-million-plus per year to quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco, a team with a rookie quarterback has an extra $10-15 million annually to spend on other players that can help build a better team around him.
The framework for a possible trade could center around a very simple deal: the Giants trade the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for Rosen. The Cardinals then use the No. 1 overall pick on Murray and still have the No. 6 pick to draft another position. While some might speculate the Giants would have to offer more, we find that unlikely given the fact that Rosen is entering year two of his contract.