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Kartje: Josh Rosen can still be a franchise quarterback in the NFL

Barring some elaborate Pro Day measurement conspiracy involving padded cleats and a juiced measuring tape or the invasion of an invisible army of anonymous scouts, hell-bent on inflaming further fabricated controversies, it appears that 5-foot-10 Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray will be the top pick in this year’s NFL draft.
This is great for Murray, who chose a future in football over baseball this offseason, and for the Cardinals, who can sell hope for the future with Murray under center. It’s also great for Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals new coach, who recruited Murray at Texas Tech, said last year he would take Murray with the top pick in the NFL draft, and now, what do you know, actually coaches the team that owns the top pick in the NFL draft.
For Josh Rosen, though, it’s a bit, well … awkward. Just a few months ago, the former UCLA and St. John Bosco quarterback was that guy , the future of the Cardinals franchise. Arizona gave up a third- and fifth-round pick last April to move up and select him 10th overall. But after a nightmarish rookie season in which his offensive coordinator was fired midseason and his offensive line was a rotating train wreck throughout, the Cardinals are dumping the face of their franchise for a newer, prettier prospect.
The chatter around the NFL Combine suggests Arizona is convinced of Murray’s future in a way it never was of Rosen’s. If you watched either of their 2018 seasons, you can understand why. Murray is a dynamic talent with a dynamite arm, and he also happens to be an ideal fit for importing Kingsbury’s Air Raid into the NFL. But it’s important to remember that by drafting the diminutive Murray, the Cardinals aren’t just giving up on Rosen. They’re also giving up the opportunity to select a generational pass rusher, like Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, with that top pick. That’s a significant cost, one they might come to regret someday, no matter what sort of value Rosen commands in a trade.
Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray is passing on a baseball career to become an NFL passer, and could be the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Which, if you believe reports out of the Combine, won’t be much. One GM at the Combine told NBC Sports’ Peter King that Rosen was worth merely a third-round pick. Other anonymous executives have chimed in since, as they tend to do this time of year, determined to undercut and manipulate Rosen’s trade value as much as possible.
But the notion that Rosen, one year removed from being a top-10 prospect, is now worth only a third-round pick is preposterous. If that is indeed his price tag, every NFL team should be putting together an offer as we speak. If one of them manages to steal him with even a second-round pick, it will be highway robbery.
Rarely, if ever, do potential franchise quarterbacks come that cheap. And believe me, Rosen has all the tools to be a true franchise quarterback … if he lands in the right situation. That was not the case in Arizona. Nor was it the case at UCLA. But the amount Rosen has been blamed for circumstances out of his control has gone much too far. In his past six years of organized football, he’s played for five (!) different coordinators. That’s hardly ideal for a developing quarterback.
Say what you want about his personality off the field – and plenty have – but on it, Rosen has never really gotten a fair shake.
“He’s gone through some growing pains,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said of Rosen last season. “But he’s going to be a really good quarterback in this league.”
And for the foreseeable future, he’ll also be one of the cheapest quarterbacks in this league. Over the next three seasons of team control, Rosen’s successive cap hits amount to just $3.99 million, $4.8 million and $5.6 million, respectively. Combined, that’s less than the Bengals will pay Andy Dalton next season .
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Which is precisely why I believe the Chargers should take a long hard look at trading for Rosen, before one of the league’s other most forward-thinking franchises – cough, cough, New England – steals him first. The Chargers are in the market for a successor to Philip Rivers, and Rosen’s personality, while not for everyone, seems like an ideal fit with a confident, cerebral mentor like Rivers. For the next few seasons, Rosen could learn behind one of the NFL’s most respected quarterbacks, in a system that’s well suited to his strengths, playing just a few miles from where he grew up.
Either way, this offseason marks a crucial juncture in Rosen’s career, one that could define whether he becomes the franchise quarterback his tools suggest he should be.
The Cardinals may have already given up on that potential. But if they trade away the one-time face of their franchise for only a third-round pick this offseason, here’s betting that Rosen, under the right circumstances, makes them live to regret it.

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