There are legitimate arguments against the Redskins trading for Josh Rosen. But Josh Rosen is not one of them.
The Washington Redskins were recently tied to reports involving a possible trade for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen.
Earlier in the offseason, any talk of Rosen being traded was mere speculation. Now, however, more credible sources have divulged information pertaining to Kliff Kingsbury’s desire to draft Kyler Murray No. 1 overall and ship Rosen elsewhere. This desire is not confirmed yet, and it makes almost no sense, but there’s enough buzz for it to have merit. And amidst this buzz, the Redskins are the only team being consistently tied to Rosen.
Trading for Josh Rosen is an enigmatic proposition. There are reasons to be for it, and reasons to be against it. Among the “against” arguments, you’ll find factoids such as these: As awful as the Cardinals offensive situation was last year, the Redskins have some work to do as well. Rosen is one year into his rookie contract, thus giving the Redskins one less year to build around him, if they trade for him. And with Alex Smith‘s contract on the books, building a strong supporting cast around Rosen, in the small guaranteed window he’s here, is far easier said than done.
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But there are positives to a potential trade as well. Rosen is just 22 years old. His cap hit averages a measly $2.08 million over the next three years. He’s a potentially elite franchise quarterback with the arm talent to make all the throws, the accuracy to throw receivers open, the poise to go through his progressions, and quick processing skills to put it all together.
His raw stats from 2018 seem to clash with what we know about Rosen as a prospect. He finished his rookie season with a 55 percent completion percentage, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. His team went 3-13.
But context is a necessary factor to consider when assessing Rosen as a trade target. His situation in Arizona was undeniably awful last season. His offensive line consisted of three rookies third-round or lower, five midseason journeyman signings, and two preset linemen, one of whom was cut midseason. Rosen was under pressure on a whopping forty percent of his drop backs, per Pro Football Focus. Rosen’s receivers didn’t give him much help either; 22 of his on-target passes on the season were dropped.
Rosen’s coaching situation was also unsavory. Mike McCoy started the year as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator, and he was fired before the halfway point of the season for his anemic play calling. Steve Wilks showed he wasn’t ready for the head coaching scene throughout the season, his team showed it wasn’t ready to compete, and Rosen had to endure the mess. Look at what a change of scenery did for Jared Goff in Los Angeles. Look at what it did for Baker Mayfield midseason last year. Any judgement passed on Rosen this early is judgement passed too early.
This isn’t to say that if Rosen is traded to Washington, all his problems would go away. On the contrary. The Redskins offensive line isn’t guaranteed to stay healthy, and even when the unit is healthy, there are holes to be filled. The offense lacks playmakers among its skill positions, and even with Derrius Guice coming back, any quarterback would need more weapons than what the Redskins have. And Jay Gruden has often showed his weakness as a pure play caller in the modern NFL, although increased influence from Kevin O’Connell could bring a change for the better (And Gruden is worlds better than Mike McCoy, as hard as that may be to fathom).
There’s no guarantee the Redskins supporting cast is ready for Rosen, or any new quarterback, for that matter. But Rosen’s talent should not be a factor in saying he’s not worth the trade. Rosen is very much worth a trade, for the right price. He was a rookie in 2018. A rookie in a very bad situation. No closing judgements should be made based on one measly year of statistical evidence without context. Football is always more complicated than that.