Why are the Dolphins hanging on to Josh Rosen?
Just a year ago, the Miami Dolphins spent their 2019 second-round draft pick and 2020 fifth-round pick to acquire quarterback Josh Rosen in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals.
Now, after the Dolphins selected Tua Tagovailoa in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Rosen’s future is in question in South Beach. The 2018 first-rounder tumbled to third on the depth chart, behind Tagovailoa and 38-year-old projected starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It is unlikely Rosen will see the field in Miami in 2020, especially after his performance last season, as the backup to Fitzpatrick. So, why are the Dolphins holding on to the young gun?
Let's break down the pros and cons of keeping Rosen on the Dolphins roster and look at which team might be the third-year QB’s ideal landing spot, should he get traded.
Rosen’s cap hit
Teams are reportedly interested in Rosen, but it is doubtful the Dolphins can find adequate trade value to compensate for the draft picks they surrendered to get him.
Fortunately for the Dolphins, it won’t cost them much to hang on to Rosen, who is in the second-to-last year of his rookie contract and costs the team $2.17 million against the 2020 salary cap.
That eliminates quite a bit of pressure on the Dolphins to resolve their quarterback dilemma immediately. Seeing as they aren't in win-now mode, with +8500 Super Bowl odds and +950 odds to win the AFC East, there's no reason to move Rosen to the first potential buyer.
Rosen’s production in the NFL won’t have many franchises knocking down the door to scoop him up, but the Dolphins could leverage the situation if they wait a bit longer in the offseason.
In training camp, injuries could pop up at quarterback on a roster elsewhere, and if a team is desperate enough, Rosen might become a valuable trade asset.
Rosen’s potential at quarterback
Life in the NFL hasn’t been very fair to Rosen, who entered the league as a highly touted prospect but landed on the worst team in the league, Arizona, with an abysmal offensive line.
Under constant pressure in the 14 games he played in 2018, Rosen was sacked 45 times and completed just 55.2% of his passes for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.
The Cardinals finished 2018 with a 3-13 record, in Steve Wilks’ lone season as head coach. The following year, Kliff Kingsbury assumed coaching duties, and the Cardinals used the No. 1 overall draft pick on quarterback Kyler Murray.
In his second pro season, Rosen found a new opportunity with the Dolphins, who were projected to be the worst team in the NFL. But Fitzpatrick found his stride in the second half of the season, and Miami finished 5-11.
Rosen played in six games and started three, but once again behind a poor offensive line, he struggled. His completion rate dipped to 53.2%, he threw just one touchdown pass, and chucked up five interceptions.
His two-year résumé in the NFL doesn’t inspire much confidence, but no one has seen what could happen if the young quarterback had more than a year to develop under the same system.
In 2020, head coach Brian Flores fired offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea and hired Chan Gailey, who has worked with Fitzpatrick in the past and served as Dolphins OC from 2000-2001. Rosen, therefore, will learn his third new offense in his third season in the league. He also went through a constant cycle of systems when he played at UCLA.
Maybe the fresh start will bode well for Rosen, but he won’t see any playing time in Miami, unless the Dolphins experience some bad luck.
Tagovailoa should come on as the starter late in the season, but with his health still a question mark, he may not be ready for the NFL this year. If that is the case, Rosen could end up the second-string quarterback, behind Fitzpatrick. And if the 38-year-old succumbs to injury, Rosen is back in the starting spot.
It’s an unlikely scenario, but should it unfold that way, Rosen might finally shine in the spotlight and boost his trade stock for the future.
Which team should pick up Rosen?
The ideal scenario for Rosen is to find a sturdy offensive line, which can protect him and allow him to showcase his skill as a pocket passer. The New England Patriots boast a decent offensive front and are planning for life with second-year QB Jarrett Stidham, as the successor to Tom Brady.
The Detroit Lions could also use some help at backup, behind an aging Matt Stafford. Chase Daniel and David Blough are listed at second and third string on the depth chart, but Rosen could overtake either.
Nonetheless, Rosen's trade value is at an all-time low, so it is in the Dolphins' best interest to develop the third-stringer. Until they can produce a greater return on investment, Rosen should stay put in Miami.