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Josh Rosen and his particular outside noise

Posted by Darren Urban on May 14, 2018 – 9:39 am

Clearly — and especially in this day of instant Internet reactions — Josh Rosen is a lightning rod. It wasn’t hard to notice from afar pre-draft when the quarterback was just a potential NFL player, but it’s a lot easier after the Cardinals drafted him. The emotions he apparently stirs, for fans everywhere but notably for fans of teams for which Rosen does not play, are oddly strong. (And often having nothing to do with football.)

It’s not difficult to find this stuff, and you’d think for a 21-year-old, it would weigh on him. But Rosen insists it does not, and he sounds genuine when he says that.

“You ignore it,” Rosen said. “It’s not that hard. It’s only hard if you make it hard. If you are Googling your name every other day and reaching out to people, yeah, you can make it hard for yourself. But as far as I know, if you keep your phone limited to messages and calls, don’t read too much (you’re OK.) The only thing that really matters is the guys in the building (at the Cardinals’ complex). That’s where I am trying to keep it right now.”

Rosen said he got to this point mentally because of a lot of “awesome mentors,” both former and current NFL players who have provided advice — whether they were guys who have always handled that part of the gig well, or even guys who might’ve handled it poorly and now have advice on how to do it better.

“I’m not going to say who,” Rosen said, “but thank you to all you guys.”


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The fifth-year option and Josh Rosen

Posted by Darren Urban on May 2, 2018 – 1:14 pm

The fifth-year team option for NFL teams for their first-round draft picks is always an interesting proposition, and it’s at the forefront of league topics right now since Wednesday is the deadline for team’s to figure out their choice for the 2015 draft picks. The Cardinals already made their call, exercising the option for tackle D.J. Humphries. It’s also part of the story for new first-round pick Josh Rosen, with whom the Cards will have a fifth-year option in 2022.

The Cardinals usually use their option, which began in 2011 after the new collective bargaining agreement came to pass. Of all their first-round picks since then that have come up for the option, the only time the Cards didn’t use it was on guard Jonathan Cooper (who was actually traded to New England for Chandler Jones before the option deadline arrived in 2016.) Patrick Peterson, Michael Floyd, and Deone Bucannon have all had their rookie deals extended to that fifth season — which does jump a player’s salary a good amount depending on their position and draft slot, but does keep the player from free agency another year.

Rosen’s case in a few years will be interesting. As noted in Kyle Odegard’s story today, finding a rookie quarterback to use is the best way for a team to build up its roster because the rookie wage scale makes a QB much cheaper — and there is more room under the cap to get players elsewhere. That’ll be the first four years. Former agent and cap expert Joel Corry does estimate that by 2022, assuming a similar climb in the salary cap, Rosen’s 2022 fifth-year option will be north of $25 million.

If Rosen is the real deal, there is no question the fifth-year option will come into play. (Next year, with Robert Nkemdiche, would seem to come down to his 2018 work.) Because of the timing — and because a player cannot get a contract extension or a new deal until he has played three years in the league — chances are good that Rosen will be optioned. But the Cards might make sure he gets a new deal before it ever kicks in. If Rosen is the player they hope he is.


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Sam Bradford’s text to Josh Rosen

Posted by Darren Urban on May 1, 2018 – 9:15 am

By now (I would hope) you’re all watching the series “Flight Plan” and how it chronicles the offseason of the Cardinals. The episode coming Wednesday night on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cardinalsflightplan) will be all about the draft, with a ton of cool behind-the-scenes stuff with number one draft pick Josh Rosen — including a text message from new teammate/competition at quarterback Sam Bradford.

The scene plays out as Rosen and his parents and agent were being driven to the Cardinals’ Tempe facility Friday for Rosen’s introductory press conference. Rosen turns to agent Ryan Williams and says, “Sam just texted me. Bradford.” Then he reads the text.

“He said, ‘Josh, what’s up, man? Welcome to Arizona,” Rosen reads. ” ‘Just wanted to let you know that I look forward to playing with you. I’ll be an open book, so if you ever need anything or have any questions, feel free to ask. Hope all is well.’ ”

You can then see Rosen writing a text back.

It’s an important tidbit given the questions some have had with how Rosen and Bradford will mesh, given that Rosen — obviously — is considered the long-term solution at quarterback. Yes, you can say Bradford is just being nice, but had he not texted and just waited to talk to Rosen when Rosen arrives next week, no one would’ve thought anything of it. It’s hard to not think the message genuine.

On Rosen’s part, he’s made it clear he’d like to play sooner rather than later, but he acknowledged at his press conference, “First and foremost, I’m an Arizona Cardinal. It’s team before everything. … I’m going to compete my butt off every single day, but then again, I’m not going to be the guy that comes in and thinks he’s the man from Day 1. It’s a long process, and you’ve got to earn it.”

All this will be on Flight Plan this week. Usually, there is a new episode debuting every two weeks, but this week is the exception. It will post Wednesday night at  6 p.m. Arizona time on Facebook Watch and then on azcardinals.com Thursday morning.


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From no QBs to now: Draft aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 28, 2018 – 5:18 pm

The question was about how he and General Manager Steve Keim felt Saturday, two days later, about the ability to trade up and draft potential quarterback-of-the-future Josh Rosen, and Steve Wilks took the opportunity to flash back to January, when he was first hired.

“When you go back to January 22nd, when I was hired, there were questions,” Wilks said. “Here’s a guy with no head coaching experience, you have no quarterback on the roster, the offensive line has a lot of holes, there are a lot of questions about this team. And I would say this: Sight is totally different than vision. Sometimes you have to see past the difficulties. We had a plan. We had a vision.”

Wilks noted the additions on the offensive line, with Justin Pugh and Andre Smith. He noted signing quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. He reiterated the oft-used “aggressive” phrase the Cardinals have used in relation to the first-round trade and the Rosen pick.

“To be sitting in this situation now, to have what could be a future franchise quarterback for many years, you’ve got a dynamic running back who I consider to be the best in the league in David Johnson, we continue to build that offensive line, dynamic receiver (Christian Kirk) who will learn and grow from one of the best in the league in Larry Fitzgerald, so we got better,” Wilks said. “Going back and looking at it now, we’re in a great situation.”

Whether the draft class pans out is TBD. Keim has been excited about every draft class he’s had on the Saturday of the draft. Then, inevitably, some guys don’t work out. That happen with every team. But Wilks does have a point — the roster, particularly the quarterbacks, looked bleak a few months ago. Suddenly, not so much. That’s not to say Rosen — or Bradford — is a lock to star in Arizona. But they could. And if Kirk becomes the wideout the Cards want and need, if Chris Campbell fleshes out as one of Wilks’ late-round developmental gems in the secondary … yes, there are “ifs.” But the Cards are in a much different spot than they were.

— As for Keim and his Rosen reflection, he admitted “it’s a little bit of a relief” to have that future QB around. Finally.

“But at the same time, (I want) to have a little fun and watch how this thing plays out,” Keim said. “I don’t forget my evaluation on Sam Bradford, and if he can stay healthy, you could be talking about a guy who could potentially be the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. I feel that strongly about how he can throw the football.”

— The Cards are in the process of agreeing with undrafted rookies. The official list won’t be out until Monday at the earliest, but I’ll probably retweet some names on Twitter if you want to look there. The official list always ends up a little different — those guys still have to pass physicals, and sometimes, players tweet out they are “signing” with a team even when they are only invited on a tryout basis.

— Last season, then-rookie safety Budda Baker missed all the offseason work other than the rookie minicamp because of an arcane NFL rule that prevented rookies from taking part until after graduation of their school. (The rule was in place to make sure guys could graduate without the pressure of having to miss time, although the reality is guys who are drafted most of the time are ready to go play football anyway.) There were a handful of schools that are on quarter systems and don’t graduate until mid-June. UCLA is one, meaning Rosen normally would have been out like Baker was. But the NFL changed the rule last fall, and Rosen will be able to be around.

“We all know you can’t get that time back,” Wilks said.


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Josh Rosen goes with No. 3

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2018 – 3:21 pm

Carson Palmer retired, meaning the No. 3 was now available. And that fits perfectly with first-round pick Josh Rosen — who picked the number Friday.

“It’s what I wore in college, and it’s just kind of been a lucky number for me,” Rosen said. “Count to three … I don’t know. Three has just kind of been with me my whole life.”

Rosen also has a connection to Palmer, at least from afar.

“I looked up to Carson,” Rosen said. “When he played for the Bengals, him and Chad Johnson or Ochocinco, were two of my favorite players. It’s an honor to wear his jersey. Hopefully I can do him proud.”


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Josh Rosen draft aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2018 – 8:59 pm

Whatever concerns others might have had about Josh Rosen’s personality or leadership skills, the Cardinals don’t have them. They wouldn’t have traded up Thursday night to get the quarterback, otherwise. GM Steve Keim was feeling good about it, having his own mic-drop moment to close out his Rosen press conference after he was asked about the fact Rosen had a hot tub (inflatable) in his dorm room at UCLA.

“Wish I had one,” Keim deadpanned.

Keim used to say that about a (potential) long-term answer at quarterback. He doesn’t have to wish anymore.

For all the slings and arrows the GM has absorbed — and many are fair criticisms — the biggest was that he didn’t find a successor for Carson Palmer. And while there was a certain amount of good fortune that played into it Thursday, Keim indeed found that guy only a few months after Palmer retired, and he has a bridge guy in Sam Bradford to help the Cardinals in the short term. That the Cards didn’t have to spend their second-round pick or next year’s first rounder was simply the best-case scenario. The Cards still have two picks Friday thanks to that third-round compensatory selection earned from losing Calais Campbell as a free agent.

As for Rosen, nothing has changed from all the speculation prior to the draft. No one knows for sure who the best QB will be from the five selected in the first round. Maybe Rosen will be it. He certainly made no bones about the fact he thought he should’ve been the first picked. He’ll have a chance to show everyone why. (Really, to “drop” to 10 isn’t horrible. It wasn’t like Aaron Rodgers dropping to 24 when he thought he should go first. Rodgers turned out to be right.)

He’s known for being outspoken, but Steve Wilks said he loves Rosen’s personality. Rosen isn’t stupid. He knows what he’s walking into, and his place as a rookie. He’s not going to sit in a corner in silence, but he’s smart enough to get it.

“I want to be me and the Arizona Cardinals know what they are getting,” Rosen said. “They are not getting a kid that is going to say stupid things and piss people off unnecessarily.”

They are getting a kid who might just be that quarterback everyone has been waiting for.


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QBs make a good impression at the podium

Posted by Darren Urban on March 2, 2018 – 3:25 pm

There are almost always “important” media interview sessions here at the Scouting combine. Most of the time it has to do with players with potential red flags. Any position can be represented — think Vontaze Burfict, Manti Te’o or even Tyrann Mathieu — but many times, it has to do with the quarterback. That’s the position that leads most often, and the one the gets the most scrutiny. Ryan Mallett was grilled in Indy, as was Cam Newton. Johnny Manziel too.

I remember back in 2006, not knowing much about a Vanderbilt quarterback who was gaining steam as a prospect, and after his session, thinking if I was the Cardinals I’d be wary. Jay Cutler could play, but he definitely gave off a lousy vibe.

Friday, the quarterbacks all talked. All the top guys have some kind of scrutiny. But after getting a chance to hear all of them, all left good impressions, albeit in different ways. Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson definitely showed the most personality, with Mayfield coming strong with his confidence he will be the best QB and emphasizing he will be honest with whatever missteps he might have made. “I want teams to know what they are getting,” he said.

Jackson could only chuckle at the idea he might be asked to move to receiver. “Man, I thought I did pretty good at quarterback,” he said with a smile. (He did.) He said no teams have talked to him about a position switch but it doesn’t matter, because he isn’t going anywhere. The other top guys — Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen — were solid themselves. Nothing flashy, but they didn’t come across poorly.

Of course, it’s the interview process with the teams behind closed doors that will ultimately mean more. But teams do pay attention to how these players handle their business in front of the cameras. That box has been checked.


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