When a team invests a first-round draft pick in a quarterback, the expectation — fairly or not — is for him to turn into one of the rare franchise-type players. More often than not, however, the plan does not work like. The reasons for that are manifold, but one that is near the top of the list is a regime change within the organization that oftentimes leads to a change of plans regarding players and their value to the club.
One team currently undergoing such a transformation process are the Arizona Cardinals. The club parted ways with head coach Steve Wilks on December 31 after it went just 3-13 during his first and only season at the job. Yesterday, Arizona announced Wilks’ successor: former New England Patriots sixth-round draft pick and long-time Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury will serve as the Cardinals’ head coach going forward.
This is where things might get interesting for Arizona, its quarterback situation, and the New England Patriots — at least when it comes to speculation about potential moves. And there will likely be plenty of it involving all three of the parties over the next few weeks and months, so get yourselves ready for the “will Josh Rosen get traded to the Patriots?” rumors. Because they will not come... they have already arrived.
But how realistic will they turn out to be? Let’s try to find that out before anything gets out of hand — and let’s start with the aforementioned Kliff Kingsbury, who is at the center in all of this. Not only is he a former short-time member of the Patriots organization, he also has publicly stated in late October 2018 that he would draft Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray if he held the number pick in the NFL draft.
“Kyler is a freak,” Kingsbury told KLBK’s Eric Kelly. “I don’t have enough good things to say about him. He’s phenomenal. I’ve never seen him have a poor outing. Not one, which at quarterback is impossible to do but he’s done it. I’d take him with the first pick of the draft if I could. I know he’s signed up to play baseball but he is a dominant football player and I would take him with the first pick.”
With the Cardinals indeed in possession of the first overall selection, the speculation mill naturally gets going — especially when ESPN gets involved. And its number one NFL reporter, Adam Schefter, already said that it is “not implausible” a scenario could unfold in which Arizona picks Murray first overall and then auctions off the team’s current starting quarterback Josh Rosen to the highest bidder.
One candidate for the highest bidder? The Patriots, who have an established entity at quarterback in Tom Brady, but one that will be 42 years old when the 2019 season gets underway. Realistically, New England will have to part at least with one first round pick in order to acquire the 10th overall selection of the 2018 draft — a player that comes with plenty of potential but struggled during his first year in the NFL.
The Patriots, of course, have plenty of capital. One potential trade chip might be tight end Rob Gronkowski, although that seems unrealistic considering that he reportedly already declared that there is no other quarterback he would play with than Tom Brady. However, New England also is projected to own 12 picks in next year’s draft. And when looking at the draft value chart a trade is feasible (h/t to Patriots Inform’s Adam Bogdan).
According to Rich Hill’s draft value chart, the 10th overall selection — the one at which Rosen was picked not even nine months ago — is worth 369.09 points. The 32nd overall, in case the Patriots win the Super Bowl, 184.30. In this scenario, New England could use this selection plus its two second rounders or one second and one third to get a player who has only three years plus the fifth-year option left on his rookie contract.
That all being said, there is one big reason why the Josh Rosen trade speculation will likely stay just that: Kliff Kingsbury is not the Cardinals’ general manager and not the one having final say on personnel decisions. Steve Keim is still around, and he just traded three draft picks to move up five spots to pick Rosen. Giving up on him now seems unrealistic, even though Murray might be viewed as a better prospect by the team’s new head coach.
Things can always change and stranger things have happened, but seeing New England pursue Josh Rosen appears to be a long shot at this point in time — despite Murray deciding to go to the NFL, the Patriots’ pre-draft interest in Rosen, and Kingsbury’s history with the club.