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Josh Rosen was ready to beat out Kyler Murray, explains how he kept perspective before Cardinals-Dolphins trade

In a move that had long been expected, the Cardinals took quarterback Kyler Murray with the top-overall pick in this year’s draft and proceeded to trade last year’s No. 10 pick, quarterback Josh Rosen, to the Dolphins. The move might’ve been entirely expected from an outsider’s perspective considering it’s all we seemingly wrote about from February to April, but that doesn’t mean the way in which it went down was expected or that it was easy to process for the parties involved. 

For one, the trade between the Dolphins and the Cardinals didn’t actually materialize until Friday night, a full day after the Cardinals made Murray the No. 1 pick, which resulted in an awkward 24 hours for everyone involved. And two, just because Rosen, like everyone else, had heard the rumors of the Cardinals’ interest in Murray, doesn’t mean he actually believed they’d take Murray.

On Monday, The Monday Morning Quarterback’s Robert Klemko dropped a story that provided insight into how the trade materialized and how Rosen handled the drama. The entire story is well worth a read, but let’s run through some of the highlights, starting at the beginning.

According to Klemko’s reporting, Rosen did not actually believe the Cardinals were taking Murray until a few minutes before the draft when the Cardinals finally decided to accept trade calls (why the Cardinals waited that long remains an unknown). Rosen’s agent found out and told his client. And then Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury called Rosen to tell him that it wasn’t about him, but it was entirely about Murray. According to Klemko, Kingsbury told Rosen, “We think the world of you.”

“My heart really didn’t believe it was going to happen until a couple minutes before it happened,” Rosen told The MMQB. “Common sense sort of kicked in then, but my heart didn’t want to believe it.” 

We all know what happened next. The Giants and Redskins both drafted quarterbacks in the first round, which took them out of the running for Rosen. The Broncos took a quarterback in the first half of Round 2. Pretty soon, the Dolphins emerged as the only viable suitor. And on Friday night, during the second round of the draft, the teams agreed to a trade that sent Rosen to Miami and two draft picks to Arizona. 

But in the 24 hours before that trade, Rosen wasn’t even sure if he would get traded. Two potential suitors had already taken quarterbacks in the first round and Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was talking about keeping both Murray and Rosen if the right offer didn’t come through. When Rosen’s agent told him that a trade might not materialize until Friday, Rosen didn’t sweat it.

“I’m fine,” Rosen told him. “It’s not like I’m some child soldier in Darfur. I’ve had it pretty good. I think it’s time I had some legitimate adversity handed to me.”

Although Rosen was unfairly criticized by some for unfollowing the Cardinals on Instagram after they picked Murray, it’s clear that Rosen was actually more than willing to go compete with Murray for the starting job once he heard that the Cardinals might not trade him.

“If that’s their position,” Rosen told his agent, “then I’ll just beat him out and Kyler can be the backup.”

Later, though, Rosen told The MMQB that he realized he wouldn’t have received a fair opportunity to beat Murray for the job. Which isn’t at all wrong.

“I absolutely would have competed if they kept me, but I would’ve been kind of bummed about it because I knew I wouldn’t get a fair shake,” Rosen said. “A GM’s not going to draft a quarterback and draft another one the next year, higher, and then play the first one. It’s admitting you made two mistakes. It just wouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t hesitate to compete, but I would know preemptively I wouldn’t get a shot even if I won the competition.”

All of this — via Klemko’s excellent reporting — just serves as even more evidence that the rumors of Rosen’s alleged difficult nature have been far overplayed. It’s a label that attached itself to Rosen ever since he joined UCLA as a highly hyped prospect and stuck with him when he departed college for the NFL. It was just over a year ago that we spent the pre-draft process talking about Rosen being a millennial with outside interests, as if that was a legitimate reason to knock him as a football player. 

Rosen’s dreadful rookie season, of course, didn’t help matters. But that shouldn’t be held against him. He was stuck in a terrible offense that even managed to render David Johnson mostly ineffective under a coaching staff that didn’t survive the season. There’s no way to know for certain if Rosen will become a franchise-caliber quarterback, but Rosen’s rookie season shouldn’t be used as evidence to support the claim that says Rosen isn’t capable of ever becoming one. If anything, his rookie season should be mostly ignored. Not many rookie quarterbacks would’ve thrived in that kind of environment.

Now with the Dolphins, Rosen will get a second chance he deserves. First, he needs to beat out journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting job. Then he needs to find a way to demonstrate signs of progress in an environment that also likely won’t be entirely conducive to success. 

The Dolphins are in stage one of what should be a lengthy rebuild, which means Rosen won’t exactly be surrounded by a plethora of playmakers. And if Rosen were to struggle and the Dolphins were to finish with a record that is worthy of the top-overall pick, there’s always a chance they would decide draft a quarterback. Rosen only cost them a second- and fifth-round pick. He’s playing under a cheap contract. The Dolphins could absolutely draft another quarterback in a year if they’re not sold on Rosen. 

The good news is, based on the way he handled the past few months, Rosen seems well-equipped to handle whatever it is that comes next in Miami.

“I try to put everything into perspective,” Rosen said. “If I’m bummed I’m getting traded by the Arizona Cardinals, I try to think I’m living in an awesome condo in the middle of Scottsdale. I’m on a team, I have food on my table, a good family. Life could be a lot worse, so you count your blessings and try to put good energy out into the world.”

The bad news is, more difficult times could be ahead. It’s not easy being a young quarterback in the NFL. It’s even harder being a young quarterback in the NFL switching offenses/teams after only one year and getting stuck on a bad roster at both destinations. 

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