The Arizona Cardinals selected QB Josh Rosen from UCLA with their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft. After a brutal season, they had the first overall pick in 2019. Rumors surfaced almost immediately about who they would pick. Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray was the most prized prospect in the draft. Combine that with the fact that new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury raved about Murray as a college coach, and the Cards selecting Murray seemed inevitable. It would turn out that it was, as the team took Murray No. 1.
Once Murray was selected, the Cardinals had little use for Rosen, and they traded him to the Miami Dolphins. How the trade went down, and what the Cardinals received in return, caused many around the NFL to question the team’s strategy in dealing Rosen the way they did.
Let’s take a closer look at why the Cardinals’ bungling of the Josh Rosen trade was great news for the Miami Dolphins.
Josh Rosen, Kyler Murray, and the Cardinals
Once rumors about the Cardinals taking Murray surfaced, the team quickly squashed them by claiming that Rosen was their QB. Either the Cardinals changed their mind or were lying, as they obviously selected Murray.
The NFL Draft is always heavy on rumors as teams attempt to spread misinformation about who they intend to select and when. Rumors about a possible new destination for Rosen was a hot topic throughout the league. Several teams made sense as they were in dire need of QB help, including:
- Washington: The Redskins lost Alex Smith to a broken leg last year and dealt for the disappointing Case Keenum this offseason. It seemed like a deal for Rosen would help them add a relatively inexpensive option at QB who still had a lot of potential. The team, which found Cardinals’ demands unreasonable, ended up taking Dwayne Haskins with the 15th pick.
- New York Giants: The Giants clearly need to move on from Eli Manning, who is a shadow of the player he once was. The team made it clear they were looking at QBs in this draft. Rosen would’ve been a logical move for the Giants, as they had an additional first round pick to deal after the Odell Beckham trade. They ended up selecting Duke QB Daniel Jones at No. 6 (much to the chagrin of many Giants fans), which started a chain reaction of questionable draft decisions.
- Denver: The Broncos added Joe Flacco this offseason, but they still need their QB of the future. They added Missouri’s Drew Lock in the second round.
The Cardinals seemed to have no shortage of suitors for Rosen. Had they moved him prior to the draft, it seemed as though they could have acquired him for a fairly high pick — potentially even a first rounder.
Cardinals-Dolphins trade details
During the second round of the NFL draft on April 26, the Cardinals and Dolphins reached a deal. Miami sent its 2019 second-round pick plus a 2020 fifth-round pick to Arizona to acquire Josh Rosen. That’s a long way from the first-round selection the Cardinals wanted and might have received before the draft.
It gets worse for Arizona, though. It traded three 2018 draft picks to move up and select Rosen. NFL insider Peter King puts it best:
“Keim dealt the 15th, 79th and 152nd picks a year ago for the 10th pick, so the Cards could draft Rosen. Keim just dealt Rosen for the 62nd pick and a fifth in 2020. Which means, in essence, he traded the 15th, 79th and 152nd picks of a draft for a slot receiver from UMass [Andy Isabella],” King writes on Pro Football Talk.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins landed a potential franchise quarterback with a ton of upside who is still on his rookie deal, and they didn’t have to give up much to get him.
Why the bungled trade was great news for the Dolphins
Several NFL teams needed help at quarterback, but the Cardinals didn’t move Rosen before the draft. They selected Murray and put Rosen in the awkward position of being a player without a team while still being a member of the roster. They soon moved on from Rosen, dealing him to Miami for second and fifth round picks.
The mistake the Cardinals made was not trading Rosen before the draft. Once they let the first round play out, they allowed their potential trade partners to select rookie QBs without trading away draft picks. That significantly limited the potential number of trade partners. Once teams like the Redskins, Giants, and Broncos identified their QBs of the future, they had no need for Rosen.
That benefited the Dolphins because it increased the leverage they had in trade negotiations. They knew that the number of teams needing a new, young QB had dwindled once the draft took place. Because of that, they were able to acquire Rosen for much less than they would have had to surrender before draft day.