Josh Rosen

NFC Notes: Thomas, Bradford, Eagles, Reid

The Seahawks have indeed fined safety Earl Thomas, who missed practice for non-injury reasons for the second consecutive week. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Seahawks — who were considering imposing a substantial fine on Thomas last Sunday — fined the star defender for missing practice and for “other things.” Rapoport adds that “communication should increase going forward,” but it is presently unclear as to whether he is referring to communication between Thomas and Seattle or between Seattle and other clubs who may want to trade for Thomas. We heard earlier today that the Steelers were interested in Thomas, but there has been no communication between Seattle and Pittsburgh at this point.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the Seahawks are still asking for a second-round pick for Thomas, and that the Chiefs remain interested (though Kansas City does not want to give up a second-rounder). The Cowboys, of course, offered a second-round pick to Seattle earlier this year, but the Seahawks wanted more from Dallas at the time since the two teams were set to play each other last week. Now that the Cowboys-Seahawks matchup has taken place, perhaps the Seahawks will be more willing to consider the Cowboys’ offer, but Rapoport indicates (video link) that the Seahawks want two second round picks in exchange for Thomas, which seems like an especially lofty asking price.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Sam Bradford is now the Cardinals‘ No. 3 quarterback, per Schefter, who says that going forward, rookie Josh Rosen will be the starter and will be backed up by Mike Glennon (Twitter link). That means that Bradford will generally be inactive on game days and will miss out on his active roster bonuses of $312,500 per game, a situation we explored in more detail last week.
  • Another tough blow for Rams outside linebacker Dominique Easley. Per the team’s official website, Easley, who has suffered three torn ACLs since 2011, may be heading for his fourth surgery in the last seven years. Head coach Sean McVay said that Easley, who converted to outside linebacker during training camp, is suffering complications from his previous injuries.
  • Prior to signing him a few days ago, the Panthers did not ask new safety Eric Reid about his anthem protests or his collusion case against the league, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. GM Marty Hurney said team ownership was not involved in the signing, and that it was a purely football move.
  • Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery will make his 2018 debut today, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Twitter). Rapoport (video link) reports that Jeffery’s status for this week was up in the air because of a virus that made him seriously ill, but that his shoulder is good to go.
  • As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes, the Eagles have four prominent starters playing out the final year of their respective contracts: Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, and Brandon Graham. Even if the Eagles wait until after the 2019 season to give quarterback Carson Wentz what will surely be a massive extension, Philadelphia has to plan for that contract now, which means the club will have some difficult decisions to make with respect to its impending free agents. McLane posits that Hicks is the most likely of the above-named players to be retained, and he examines the futures of all four players in detail.
  • Jane Slater of the NFL Network reports that Cowboys WR Terrance Williams will be inactive today, and that the recently re-signed Brice Butler will be leaned upon more heavily as a result (Twitter link). Williams, the most expensive receiver on Dallas’ roster, may be facing a suspension stemming from his May arrest and recently missed practice, though that absence was reportedly an excused one and was unrelated to the possible suspension. Williams, though, has just two catches for 18 yards this season, and the team wants to give someone else a shot.

Breer’s Latest: Cardinals, Rosen, Dolphins, Chiefs, Kafka, Bears, Trubisky

The Cardinals finally made the decision to insert Josh Rosen into the game last week, giving the public their first look at the last of the ‘Big Four’ quarterbacks to make an appearance. All four of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Rosen are starters now, and Rosen was the last to see game action. The Cardinals’ plan had reportedly been to continue to start Sam Bradford moving forward, but he played so poorly that he forced Arizona’s hand.

Apparently for Cardinals coaches, Rosen’s command of the huddle in his brief relief appearance last Sunday “was the final piece of the puzzle in deciding to the pull the trigger on the quarterback switch” reports Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer notes that Cardinals sources told him Rosen has “been outstanding of late in practice”, and it sounds like they have full confidence in the rookie signal caller. The tenth overall pick from UCLA will get his first start this Sunday at home against the Seahawks.

Here’s more from Breer’s latest column:

  • The Dolphins have shocked everyone with their 3-0 start, and Breer has identified at least one reason behind the unexpected strong first few weeks. “There was an effort from coach Adam Gase, EVP Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier to get faster” across the board. Breer points to the team’s offseason addition of speedsters Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and Jerome Baker as evidence of the identity change.
  • Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka is a “name to keep an eye on” according to Breer in future coaching searches. Reid apparently assigned Kafka, then a quality control coach, to do one-on-one work with Patrick Mahomes last year, and thinks quite highly of him. Reid has an extensive coaching tree of former assistants, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kafka, a former quarterback under Reid in Philadelphia, become the next one.
  • Scouts are concerned that Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is too quick to tuck and run, and isn’t processing the field, according to Breer. Breer writes that “Trubisky seems to be making a single read, and running if it’s not there”, and that his processing ability had previously been seen as one of his biggest strengths coming out of college.

Cardinals To Start Josh Rosen

It’s Josh Rosen time. On Monday, Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks announced that Rosen will replace Sam Bradford as the team’s starting quarterback. 

This was the expected move after Rosen replaced Bradford late in the team’s 16-14 loss to the Bears. Bradford exited after throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. Rosen, meanwhile, had a few good plays, but threw a costly interception with roughly one minute remaining in the game.

Rosen was less-than-perfect in his short NFL debut, but the Cardinals clearly needed to make a change after getting off to an abysmal start. The entire offense has sputtered through three games and the team has failed to fully utilize the talents of running back David Johnson. If Rosen can keep defenses honest, Johnson may finally have room to run.

Rosen, a UCLA product, threw for 59 touchdowns against 16 interceptions across three college seasons. In the spring, the Cardinals made him the No. 10 overall pick in the draft.

Four of this year’s five first-round QBs are now installed as starters with Ravens rookie Lamar Jackson as the odd man out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Josh Rosen, Sam Bradford

The Cardinals have limped out to an 0-2 start thanks in large part to an anemic offense led by veteran QB Sam Bradford. Bradford has yet to throw a touchdown pass, but he has thrown two picks and has compiled a 55.6 QB rating, while Arizona has amassed a grand total of six points.

That performance, of course, has led to increased speculation as to when rookie Josh Rosen, the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft, will be inserted into the starting lineup. We learned last night that, even if Bradford struggles against the Bears this afternoon, Cardinals fans should not expect an in-game promotion for Rosen, and it sounds as if Arizona will wait at least a couple of weeks before deploying the UCLA product.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) says the Cardinals are generally disjointed on offense, and while Bradford has not played well, the team does not believe he is solely to blame for the offense’s difficulties. As such, the club does not want to throw Rosen to the wolves and risk stunting his development until the offensive line and the skill position players start playing more cohesively. Plus, the Cardinals simply believe, after having watched Bradford and Rosen in preseason and in practices since the start of the regular season, Bradford still represents the team’s best chance to win at this juncture.

But Arizona does have some financial incentive to get Rosen in the lineup sooner rather than later. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com observes, for each game that Bradford is active this season, he will earn a $312,500 bonus. So, if the Cardinals were to release or deactivate Bradford this week, they would save $4MM in potential roster bonuses, a number that obviously decreases with each game that Bradford is on the 46-man roster.

Schefter also offers his take on Rosen’s development. He says that Rosen has taken some first-team reps, and “those around him” believe he is making progress and will become the team’s starting QB in fairly short order. Of course, that could still mean that Rosen will have to wait several more weeks, just as Rapoport suggested.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Notes: Rosen, Golden, LBs, Smith

With the Cardinals‘ prospects for a playoff berth looking as bleak as they have in a September since before Carson Palmer arrived, noise around the team beginning the Josh Rosen era has obviously increased. Arizona’s Sam Bradford-led attack did not cross midfield until the fourth quarter against the Rams, and the Cards have just six points this season — the fewest of any team through two games since the 2006 Buccaneers. However, don’t count on a Rosen in-game promotion if Arizona’s struggles continue against the Bears on Sunday. While Steve Keim said (via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic) the first-round pick “has got to be ready,” he would prefer Steve Wilks give him a full week of first-string reps rather than throw him into the fire. As for Wilks, he does see the UCLA product making strides. Rosen was billed as the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft yet will be the last to see action of his first-round peers.

Number one, I think the guy is progressing,” Wilks said during an interview with Sirius XM’s Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan. “He does a great job each and every week trying to prepare himself. He does get some reps with the ones each and every week, so from that standpoint, it’s good. And then he does an excellent job just as far as running the show team as well, so his operation each week is with the ones as well as on the show team. Prep has been good.

“When the time is right, we’ll definitely get him in there.”

Here’s the latest out of the desert:

  • Markus Golden and Jermaine Gresham appear on track to make their 2018 debuts. Both players progressed to full practices this week for the first time this year, per McManaman. Golden’s been out since Week 4 of last season because of an ACL tear. Gresham hasn’t played since Week 17, when the tight end ruptured an Achilles’ tendon. Both began camp on the PUP list. This will be Gresham’s age-30 season, and it’s even more critical for Golden. The edge rusher is set to begin a contract year, so showing he’s recovered from the severe knee injury will be paramount for his stock. Golden finished with 12.5 sacks in 2016. Both players are listed as questionable for Sunday.
  • The Cardinals’ new 4-3 defense has looked more like a 4-2-5 look thus far, and that’s resulted in Haason Reddick seeing sparse action in his second season. The 2017 first-rounder’s played only 17 snaps thus far. The Cards’ 2014 first-rounder, Deone Bucannon, was benched against the Rams, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic notes. Bucannon’s been a full-time starter at either safety or linebacker since his rookie year. Bucannon is also in a contract year. Josh Bynes leads Cardinals linebackers with 141 snaps, and Pro Football Focus tabbed him as the No. 10 overall ‘backer through two games. Bucannon sits 70th on that list, mostly due to Week 1 struggles. Nomad defender Gerald Hodges replaced Bucannon in Week 2.
  • Andre Smith remains out for Arizona because of an elbow injury, meaning John Wetzel will start again for the Cards in Week 3, McManaman notes. Considering Khalil Mack frequently lines up opposite right tackles, this poses another problem for a Cards team that’s experienced many thus far this season.

Cardinals’ Starting QB Job ‘Sam Bradford’s To Lose’

Despite Sam Bradford having not participated in as much of the Cardinals’ offseason program, Steve Wilks has determined the injury-prone veteran is his starter, barring something unexpected. The first-year coach said the Cards’ QB1 job is Bradford’s to lose, per Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com, then indicating Josh Rosen and Mike Glennon will compete for the backup position.

The Cardinals brought the ninth-year quarterback along slowly this offseason. Bradford has not played extensively since the 2016 season. He started twice for the 2017 Vikings but made it through just one game healthy.

This is the time where he needs to step it up,” Wilks said of Bradford’s return to action. “He understands and knows that. We’ve got to proceed forward with our timing. He’s ready.”

During Arizona’s offseason program, Wilks labeled this an open competition with the caveat Bradford was signed to start this season. He’s not wavering from that stance at this point. Bradford is expected to practice fully during camp. Wilks said he feels “great” about where Bradford’s at in his return from his latest bout of significant knee trouble.

I didn’t play a ton of football last year, so being able to get back in the flow of things, get back in rhythm and play again, and see how my knee reacts, see how my mind reacts out there on the field in practice,” Bradford said. “I think it’s important in these next couple of weeks to re-establish that rhythm.”

NFC Notes: Rosen, Panthers, 49ers

Although Patrick Peterson expects Sam Bradford to start the season as the Cardinals‘ quarterback, what he saw early this offseason from Josh Rosen may make that a short-lived arrangement. Peterson said the first-round pick “blew my mind” with the football IQ he was known for challenging coaches with at UCLA.

Just to see him run hurry-up offense, to see him make all different checks, to see him put guys in position, I was completely stunned when I saw it,” Peterson said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. “I was like, ‘This guy’s only been here a week, and he’s already doing what? We’re already running two-minute offense now?

I was very, very impressed with that, and he’s definitely the future of our franchise.”

While this praise tops Steve Wilks‘ a bit, it’s consistent with what the first-year Cards coach described about the No. 10 overall pick. Bradford has not been given the Cards’ starting job yet, and he’ll have to show the Cardinals — who slow-played his offseason work due to the major injury concerns attached to the former Heisman Trophy winner — he can stay healthy. An injury-free preseason will likely have Bradford at the controls come Week 1. But the Rosen era appears imminent.

Shifting to another rookie’s standing, here’s what’s new out of the NFC on Friday night.

  • Daryl Worley‘s release leaves the Panthers somewhat vulnerable at cornerback. That hasn’t been an uncertain spot since Josh Norman‘s departure, but David Newton of ESPN.com expects second-round pick Donte Jackson to emerge as the starter opposite James Bradberry. “You see it on the field. You see it when you talk to him,” Ron Rivera said regarding Jackson. “You watch in his gait, the way he carries himself. That’s the type of attitude you have to have to play this game. You have to have a certain kind of swagger.” Ross Cockrell, Kevon Seymour and perhaps slot man Captain Munnerlyn figure to factor into the Panthers’ competition here as well.
  • Speaking of Carolina competitions, Colin Jones has a good shot to start at safety despite his presence as a career special-teamer. The Panthers are counting on the 30-year-old Jones to play opposite 37-year-old Mike Adams, per Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today. Carolina, though, signed Da’Norris Searcy and drafted Rashaan Gaulden in the third round, so it would appear Jones may stand to be a stopgap solution. He played 213 defensive snaps last season but only has 13 starts in seven NFL seasons.
  • 49ers defensive ends Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas are switching positions, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, with the 2017 No. 3 overall pick moving to the “Leo” end spot reserved for the best outside pass rusher in San Francisco’s 4-3 scheme. Thomas played some at this position last season, but Armstead resided there at the outset of the 49ers’ most recent campaign. Armstead being a former defensive tackle makes him a more obvious fit as the “big” end, and the ex-Oregon product has put on weight this offseason to play that role. The 49ers still hope to have Thomas (three sacks as a rookie) shift inside at times on passing downs, though both would profile as players who could join DeForest Buckner inside in sub-packages.

Extra Points: Hackenberg, Cardinals, Colts

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden has never been a fan of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, and he attribute quarterback Christian Hackenberg‘s recent release to the CBA’s limitations. “Everybody is an expert out there on Hackenberg and thinks he can’t play,” Gruden said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “It’s unfortunate, this whole collective [bargaining agreement]. How do you develop a quarterback? I don’t know how you do it. … It is hard enough to get Connor Cook enough reps, let alone a fourth guy. It really depresses me how we can’t spend more time with these young quarterbacks, and it is really going to be an impactful situation on the NFL in the future.” The former second-round pick was released by the Raiders after having been acquired from the Jets several weeks ago.
  • First-round quarterback Josh Rosen is undoubtedly impressing in Cardinals‘ camp, but Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com believes Sam Bradford will still be the team’s starter heading into the season. The veteran has the upper hand when it comes to accuracy and throwing power, and while the team is planning on bringing him along slowly (Bradford suffered another knee injury last season), he’s expected to be atop the depth chart at the start of the season.
  • The Colts are curiously attempting to switch linebacker John Simon to defensive end. As Zak Keefer of IndyStar.com writes, this is an especially questionable move considering the team’s lack of depth at linebacker. So far, no one on the Colts sounds overly optimistic about the switch. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus didn’t give a glowing review of the 27-year-old, acknowledging that Simon lacks the size of a typical defensive end. “What you have to do is use your attributes, your strengths, use your get-off, all those things,” he explained. “He’ll figure it out as we go.”
  • Former Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage has been named the general manager of the Alliance of American Football league’s Phoenix franchise (via SBJ’s Liz Mullen on Twitter). The 53-year-old was also the Browns general manager between 2005 and 2008.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Rosen, 49ers

Sam Bradford is slated to be the Cardinals‘ starting quarterback..for now. Between now and September, rookie Josh Rosen could very well beat him out for the top job, coach Steve Wilks says.

Smart, this guy is extremely smart,” Wilks said of Rosen, the No. 10 overall pick (via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic). “His ability to see certain things from the defense and pick it up quickly and execute … I don’t want to say this, but he has the mindset of a vet, the way he sees the game. He’s not playing like a vet. Make sure you guys understand that. He’s still a rookie, OK? But he sees things from a different lens.”

So far, Bradford is healthy “and when he’s healthy, he’s great,” Wilks said. Still, Wilks believes in competition and is not ready to hand him the job here in May.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Poll: Which Team Best Addressed QB Spot This Offseason?

This turned out to be an important year for quarterback acquisitions. Many teams’ short- and long-term futures will depend heavily on the players they added over the past two months.

A fourth of the NFL made major investments in outside talent at the quarterback position this offseason. Which team did you think is in the best position after all the dominoes fell?

Three teams acquired their unquestioned starters via trade or free agency. The Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith ensured they were not going to pick a quarterback in the draft. As did the Vikings’ subsequent Kirk Cousins agreement. The Broncos entered the draft as a borderline QB destination, but John Elway valued Bradley Chubb more than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, eschewing a Bills offer that would have given his team extra first- and second-round picks. So, Case Keenum is going to be Denver’s starter.

Four of the five teams that used first-round picks on quarterbacks made sure to add bridge-type solutions, with the Browns moving first to get Tyrod Taylor. The Jets and Cardinals then respectively proceeded to bring in Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. And the Bills made the final stopgap addition in A.J. McCarron. But these players, for the most part, are 2018 placeholders — at best.

Was Baker Mayfield worth the No. 1 overall pick? Or did the Browns make what could turn out to be the costliest of their spree of modern quarterback misjudgments last month? Several Cleveland executives independently rated Mayfield as the draft’s premier passer, going against the grain of the many teams that viewed Sam Darnold as this year’s top passing prospect. The Jets appear to have appreciated this bold move, and Darnold is almost certainly going to see extensive time in 2018. PFR readers believe he will.

The Bills worked the phones relentlessly in an effort to install Allen behind McCarron, and the Cardinals reportedly had the Wyoming prodigy rated as their top QB as well. But Allen could need extensive seasoning, and as of now, a returning playoff team has a fifth-year player with 133 career pass attempts set to open the season and possibly close it as the starter.

Conversely, the player the Cardinals invested in was tabbed by many draft experts as the readiest pro. And Bradford being in front of Rosen for 16 games may be asking a lot from the injury-prone veteran. The Ravens are already planning Jackson packages, and although the player whom some teams wanted to work out as a wide receiver may need a season to develop, this draft’s most dominant college QB resides in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.

Armed with one of the league’s most talented rosters, Minnesota had the most obvious case to pursue a veteran. And the Vikings made history by authorizing a $28MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cousins, who may be the safest option among all of these players. But he’s now the league’s second-highest-paid passer and tethered to the Vikings through 2020. Smith is coming off his best NFL season, but his Chiefs teams disappointed in two home playoff opportunities. Washington could also be much further away from contention than Minnesota, and the Redskins have now brought in quarterback who for all the stability he offers is four years older.

It’s debatable the Broncos’ contention window could still be open, with many of their core Super Bowl 50 performers still on the team and having played the past two seasons without much help at quarterback. But a 5-11 team armed with only its second top-five pick since 1992 passing on two coveted QB prospects to pursue the 30-year-old Keenum, a late-blooming talent or a player who benefited from better circumstances, could also be classified as a bold choice as Rosen and Allen’s careers unfold. The Broncos only committed to Keenum for two years and are paying Football Outsiders’ No. 4 2017 DYAR passer $10MM less per year than Cousins commanded.

So, with all things considered, which of these franchises is best set up after this offseason? Did one of the teams that spent a first-round pick on a QB ensure a decade and then some of stability and promise? Or did the teams that went strictly for vets get this right? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.