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Josh Rosen Is the Perfect Fit for Miami’s Rebuild

One day after the Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray no. 1, they traded last year’s first-rounder to the Dolphins, a team in the midst of a major overhaul

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Josh Rosen is reportedly leaving a dry heat for humidity. One day after the Arizona Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray no. 1 overall, the team has traded Rosen to the Miami Dolphins for a second-rounder (no. 62 overall) and a 2020 fifth-rounder, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cardinals had little choice but to deal Rosen, whom they traded up to get at no. 10 overall last year. Arizona reportedly asked for a first-rounder, but keeping both Murray and Rosen on the team while waiting for a better offer to materialize could’ve proved toxic. Kliff Kingsbury is already dealing with the challenges of coaching at the NFL level for the first time and introducing the relatively new Air Raid offense into the pros. Managing nearly unprecedented locker room awkwardness on top of that would have been a terrible way to begin his tenure. Arizona used the 62nd pick on UMass speedster Andy Isabella, Arizona’s second second-rounder, along with no. 33 overall pick cornerback Byron Murphy. The Cardinals also drafted Boston College defensive end Zach Allen as the first pick of the third round.

The Dolphins are buying low by swapping the no. 62 pick for a player who was considered the most pro-ready of the draft prospects last year. However, his numbers in 2018 were ghastly: Among 33 qualified passers last year, Rosen was last in yards per attempt (5.8), net yards per attempt (4.47), adjusted net yards per attempt (3.53), and passer rating (66.7), and 33rd in touchdown percentage (2.8 percent). He ranked 32nd in completion percentage (55.2 percent). But those numbers can’t be put on Rosen alone. He was thrust into action behind the worst pass-blocking offensive line in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus, and was subsequently one of four quarterbacks with 200 or more snaps to be pressured on more than 40 percent of his snaps. Poor coaching added to Rosen’s problems, as offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired before Week 8. Now Rosen will have to shake off his tough rookie season and the emotional damage of getting dumped, but he’s already unfollowed the Cardinals on Instagram and Twitter—he’s way too artsy to have a Facebook—so at least the healing process has begun. The photos of him in a Cardinals uniform are gone, but he kept this one around for us to enjoy.

If any team has the ability to take a flier on Rosen, it’s the Dolphins. Miami is rebooting under former de facto Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores. While most of Bill Belichick’s disciples seem to crash shortly after leaving the nest, Flores seems promising, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has indicated he is willing to be patient.

”I would love for [the rebuild] to be two years, but you have to be realistic,” Ross told reporters earlier this year.

Miami sent former quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee last month and signed professional Conor McGregor impersonator Ryan Fitzpatrick on a one-year deal for 2019. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are two sixth-round picks, so Rosen at a minimum is a shoe-in for the backup job. Fitzpatrick can mentor him on … throwing pick-sixes? Getting into Harvard? They’ll certainly find something to talk about.

They can probably bond over Miami’s questionable offensive line. Rosen was fourth in percentage of dropbacks under pressure in 2018, but Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler was one spot ahead of him. The Dolphins were the 28th-best-graded pass-blocking team in the league, and their defense doesn’t have much talent beyond standout cornerback Xavien Howard and new defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, whom they drafted no. 13 overall Thursday. The Dolphins have a handful of exciting skill players. Albert Wilson led all receivers in yards per routes run (minimum 30 routes) in 2018 per Pro Football Focus. DeVante Parker is talented, but injuries and a disagreement between him, his agent, and head coach Adam Gase kept him off the field for all but seven games. Last year’s second-rounder, tight end Mike Gesicki, is one of the most athletic players at the position in the league. Beyond them, however, Miami has one of the more barren rosters in the league.

Yet Rosen lands somewhere he can become a starter, and the Dolphins don’t have much to lose by letting him try. Arizona took on $8.2 million of dead money in the trade related to Rosen’s signing bonus, so the Dolphins are taking on only Rosen’s yearly salary. That comes out to $1.3 million, $2.1 million, and $2.9 million for the next three seasons. It’s a bargain considering the Dolphins have $18 million of cap space tied up from former quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract even as he plays in Tennessee this year. Rosen’s cap hit for 2019 is 52nd among quarterbacks, just after Atlanta backup quarterback Matt Schaub (still in the league!). The Dolphins are getting Rosen for a far lesser pick than it would have cost them last year, and his price tag is a fraction of what they would’ve paid then.

If Rosen works out in Miami, south Florida can rejoice. If not, the Dolphins have little commitment to Rosen and could still be in the sweepstakes for Tua Tagovailoa next year or Trevor Lawrence in 2021. Rosen, meanwhile, gets to try to prove that he is a franchise quarterback.