Josh Rosen

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.

Poll: Which Rookie QB WIll Log The Most Playing Time In 2018?

Six quarterbacks were taken in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft, including the Browns taking Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick.

Though teams spent high-value picks on quarterbacks in 2018, not every quarterback will be in a position to take over a starting role in 2018, though each seemingly has a decent possibility at finding the field in their rookie year. Along with the Browns selecting Mayfield, the Jets selected Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick, the Bills took Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick, the Cardinals took Josh Rosen with the No. 10 overall pick and the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson with the No. 32 overall pick. The Steelers also selected Mason Rudolph in the third round of the draft.

Each quarterback has a roadblock to finding playing time in 2018. The Browns acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor via trade, the Jets re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford and the Bills traded for A.J. McCarron. The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger entrenched in the starting role, though he’s missed eight games over the last three seasons.

So, which quarterback do you think will receive the most playing time in 2018? Will injuries to Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco force Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph into action? Or can Mayfield, Darnold, Rosen or Allen win battles in crowded quarterback rooms?

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Draft Notes: 2019 QBs, Browns, Jackson

A possible dearth of quarterback talent in the 2019 draft class may have contributed the first-round aggressiveness of teams in recent years. The Bears, Chiefs, Texans, Jets, Bills and Cardinals traded up to land their hopeful quarterbacks of the future the past two drafts, and Albert Breer of SI.com notes some of the impetus behind these moves may be coming from issues teams have with the crop of passers likely set to populate 2019 big boards.

Not right now, there isn’t one (that would go in the first round as it stands),” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “The kids at Auburn (Jarrett Stidham), Missouri (Drew Lock) and N.C. State (Ryan Finley), by the end of it, could work their way into the conversation. But on the surface, based on current performance, it’d be a no. Now, if they ascend, which they should, those three guys have a chance to get there.”

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com (Insider link) has both Lock (No. 16) and Oregon’s Justin Herbert (No. 18) in his early top 25 for 2019. Issues with Lock’s completion percentage (57.8 percent is the senior-to-be’s career high) and Herbert’s toughness, per Breer, are early concerns for respective first-round hopefuls. While events of recent years show it’s a good bet a quarterback will be taken in the 2019 first round, Breer compares this crop — at this early juncture — to the 2013 group that saw only E.J. Manuel chosen in Round 1 instead of other recent classes that saw the likes of Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston emerge as obvious down-the-line high draft choices in advance of their final college campaigns.

Here’s more on this year’s draft, courtesy of Breer:

  • Breer reports the Browns “loved both” of the Denzel Ward/Bradley Chubb duo, but the team felt the Ohio State cornerback possessed upside potential the N.C. State defensive end didn’t. Ward started just for one season but sat behind Buckeyes cornerbacks that are now in the NFL. Cleveland brass also didn’t view Chubb as a Myles Garrett– or Jadeveon Clowney-like athletic specimen. Plus, Gregg Williams said the team’s need at corner was greater than the one opposite Garrett. Also noting Ward, who went to Nordonia High School in the Cleveland area, pitched his local ties and desire to help a Browns resurgence, Breer writes the Browns did their homework on this difficult decision and did not make an impulse call on draft night.
  • If the Eagles did not trade their first-round pick to the Ravens, they were going to consider eventual Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton at No. 32, per Breer. Sutton visited the Eagles in early April. Philly has Alshon Jeffery, a player to whom Sutton’s been compared, signed long-term and has Nelson Agholor controlled through 2019. However, the defending Super Bowl champions still signed Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton, the latter a post-draft addition.
  • Ravens brass needed to hear from John Harbaugh the coaching staff was confident the team could win with Lamar Jackson before trading up to take him, and Breer reports Harbaugh, OC Marty Morhinweg, senior offensive assistant Greg Roman and QBs coach James Urban all developed a plan for the rookie before Ozzie Newsome made the trade with the Eagles. Both Mornhinweg and Urban were in their same positions under Andy Reid on the 2010 Eagles, when Michael Vick resurfaced as a top-flight weapon after previously working intermittently in certain packages. Roman’s work adjusting the 2012 49ers’ offense for Colin Kaepernick also played a role here, Breer writes. The Ravens look to be preparing Jackson sets already.
  • The first four rookies to sign their deals all had offset language built into the contracts, Breer tweets. Da’Ron Payne, Josh Rosen, Marcus Davenport and Quenton Nelson saw their teams include offsets in their deals. Offset language provided one of the sticky points in Joey Bosa‘s 2016 holdout, and the Chargers won out. So far, teams are doing the same with their 2018 top picks.

Josh Rosen Signs Cardinals Deal

A second first-round pick signed his rookie deal on Thursday. The Cardinals reached an agreement with quarterback Josh Rosen, the team announced, on the eve of Arizona’s rookie minicamp.

Rosen follows Redskins defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne in agreeing to terms with his team. Rosen signed the customary four-year rookie accord, one that contains a 2022 option year.

The Cardinals have been looking for a bit now for their next franchise quarterback, and Rosen will be expected to give Sam Bradford a strong push for the job this season. The UCLA product was viewed by most as this class’ most polished passer and one that will need the shortest acclimation process before seeing game action.

Interestingly, Rosen follows Patrick Mahomes as the No. 10 pick. The Cardinals were rumored to be interested in trading up for Mahomes, but they’ll now being paying their quarterback a salary customary for that draft slot. Mahomes’ Chiefs deal was worth $16.425MM over four years, so Rosen’s pact will come in north of that ($17.6MM with a $10.9MM signing bonus, per Joel Corry of CBS Sports, Twitter link) but south of 2018 peers Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen.

However, with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson and now Christian Kirk in place with the Cardinals, Rosen could be best-positioned to make an impact as a rookie.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Browns, Ryan, 49ers, Texans

As we heard Sunday, Browns VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith indicated Sam Darnold was his preferred quarterback until late in the draft process. Baker Mayfield then became the consensus choice. However, the first-year Browns exec had one interesting reason for being less interested in Josh Rosen, whom the Browns worked out at UCLA and hosted on a visit.

I was at an airport. UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that,” Highsmith said, via cleveland.com. “We all know how people talk. So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there. I’m like, ‘All right, coach. That’s good enough.’

I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me.”

The Browns were not connected closely to Rosen, the least mobile of this year’s top QB contingent but also the player who could well be the readiest to start in Week 1, and they preferred a more mobile passer. But this candor is rather interesting and may not age well if Rosen has a strong rookie year for the Cardinals. It’s not the first time a key Browns exec’s made a comment on a quarterback they bypassed.

As for Allen, Highsmith wasn’t interested in hearing excuses for why the Wyoming player couldn’t complete 57 percent of his passes in either of his two years as a starter.

Josh Allen … big arm … he could throw the ball from here to the moon,” Highsmith said. “When they have to make excuses … why are they not completing passes? That’s a problem. Baker Mayfield lost two receivers (from the 2016 team) and he was the same quarterback.”

  • In addition to Matt Ryan‘s five-year, $150MM Falcons extension being a per-year record, it contains the most Year 1 money in NFL history. The 11th-year quarterback will take home $52.5MM in 2018, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports. However, Matthew Stafford still holds the signing bonus record. Ryan will see a $46.5MM bonus, per Graziano. That’s just shy of Stafford’s record $50MM signing bonus agreed to last year.
  • Elvis Dumervil is currently without a team after the 49ers did not pick up his option. The 49ers did not draft an edge defender this year, and John Lynch indicated Dumervil — his teammate for two seasons with the Broncos — could be brought back and may not need a full offseason in what would be his 13th year. “Yeah, I think it could be,” Lynch said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) of a possible reunion with the 34-year-old pass rusher. “I’m sure a lot of (teams) are looking at it as such. Elvis isn’t a guy who at this stage of his career really needs to be around in an offseason. He’s a professional. He takes tremendous pride in how he trains, how he eats and all those things. So he’ll be ready.” Lynch mentioned the 49ers plan to evaluate some younger players for pass-rushing roles, though, so it could be a while before a possible reunion commences. Dumervil made $4.5MM with San Francisco last season and registered a team-high 6.5 sacks.
  • The Texans are moving second-year cornerback Treston Decoud to safety, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. A 2017 fifth-round pick, Decoud played in 10 games for the Texans as a rookie. Decoud played cornerback in both of his seasons at Oregon State. He’s the younger brother of former longtime Falcons safety Thomas Decoud. Houston signed Tyrann Mathieu in free agency and drafted Justin Reid with its first 2018 pick, a third-rounder, so Treston Decoud could stay a depth piece at his new position.
  • Houston’s revamp of its scouting department will see the franchise hire nine-year Patriots staffer James Liipfert as the new director of college scouting, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Liipfert will succeed Jon Carr in this role. Having been with the Patriots during each year Bill O’Brien was, Liipfert served the past three seasons with the Patriots as a national scout after previously being an area scout.

Giants Did Not Have Consensus On Draft’s Top QB

The Giants were enamored with Saquon Barkley to the point they didn’t waste much time turning in their card. And the team is now prepared to enter the season without a surefire heir apparent behind Eli Manning.

It turns out, Big Blue’s brass didn’t appear to have a consensus among which of the quarterbacks they would take, with Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reporting different sects of the Giants’ decision-makers preferred three separate signal-callers. And they didn’t feel strongly enough about one of them to pull the trigger at No. 2.

Mostly, the Giants were down to Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, with some Josh Rosen support in the building as well. Schwartz reports there wasn’t much love for Baker Mayfield among the new-look Giants power structure.

If it were up to Pat Shurmur, Allen would have been the quarterback pick — had the franchise been leaning in that direction. Upside drew Shurmur to Allen. However, the Giants would have selected Bradley Chubb if Barkley wasn’t available, per Schwartz.

The Giants placed the same grade on Barkley and Chubb, but the Penn State running back was listed atop Chubb’s name on Big Blue’s board. They proceeded accordingly, and are “ecstatic,” Schwartz writes.

Additionally, Schwartz lists second-round pick Will Hernandez as a near-surefire starter at guard. Hernandez caught the Giants’ eye at the Senior Bowl, and one staffer told Schwartz the the team’s consensus was the UTEP lineman’s Combine performance would not have him available by the time New York’s second-round window opened. The Giants signed Patrick Omameh in free agency and still have returning starter John Jerry on the roster. And Schwartz adds that Lorenzo Carter could well get a strong push to start ahead of free agency addition Kareem Martin, the latter’s knowledge of James Bettcher’s system notwithstanding.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.