There’s an interesting and possibly Patriots-related backstory to Josh Rosen heading to San Francisco.
Rosen, the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft, was signed by the 49ers off the Buccaneers practice squad on Tuesday. He immediately joins the 49ers 53-man roster, as all practice squad poachees must do.
But a source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that Rosen “declined multiple other opportunities to leave Tampa’s practice squad for a 53-man roster. The San Francisco offer was, in Rosen’s view, the right one to accept.”
Rosen is 23 years old. Twenty. Three. And all it takes is a Google search of the words “Josh Rosen, highlights” to see why any quarterback-needy team would want to put a couple of chips on Rosen and see what happens. I mean, look at the first two minutes of this clip from his fourth NFL game. What’s the downside? Based on arm talent and experience alone, would you rather have Rosen or Jarrett Stidham?
Which leads to the question of whether the Patriots were one of the “multiple other opportunities” that Rosen declined. They likely weren’t. The team is three-deep at quarterback with Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer on the active roster. And the loyalty shown to Newton and Hoyer -- even though neither is the future solution at the position -- makes them virtually untouchable in 2020.
The Patriots have simply shown no urgency and little imagination as to how they want to proceed. A run at Rosen would be tacit acknowledgment by the Patriots that what they’ve got isn’t working and it’s time to get busy. And they just don’t seem like they are there yet.
But how long are they going to mourn Garoppolo before they get out there and start to mingle again?
Which brings us to the second reason Rosen’s decision is intriguing.
The Niners quarterback situation is ... complex. It’s Jimmy Garoppolo’s job. His backups are soon-to-be free agents Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard.
Garoppolo is injury-prone. He missed 13 games in 2018 -- his first full season with the Niners -- and has played in just six games this year. In 2019, he played a full season and the Niners had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. But Niners coach Kyle Shanahan would put a shock collar on Garoppolo if he could and zap him every time he throws downfield. He just isn’t sold on him.
The injuries, the performance anxiety, the fact the Niners can cut or trade Garoppolo before June 1 and save $24.1M on their cap all make his future in San Francisco suspect.
Which could mean the oft-discussed return to New England. The Patriots would likely want to start fresh contractually with Garoppolo and a trade would mean his clunky future salaries ($24.1M in 2021 and 2022) would go with him. So a release is the more likely path to Garoppolo landing back here.
Would Garoppolo want to come back if he were released and became a free agent? Good question. Josh McDaniels may be gone. The jury is out on whether the team has anything at all in the tight end room. N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers and Julian Edelman are the lead wideouts. Harry hasn’t been good. Edelman will be 35 in May and his knees are balky. And the Patriots will predictably lowball the hell out of Garoppolo.
Back to Rosen. Watch that clip again. Of the first six throws, two were flat drops -- one by Larry Fitzgerald -- and one was a touchdown pass through a sliver of space. The talent is more than obvious. What’s his sin? Not a leader, liked to play tennis, doesn’t like Trump and says so, thinks charity work is important, something, something, something.
That he completed less than 54 percent of his passes behind a hellacious offensive line in his one year in Arizona before Kliff Kingsbury drafted Kyler Murray No. 1 in 2019 isn’t proof of anything. Neither is his failure to launch in peekaboo use with the Dolphins last year. Rosen’s worth a shot. The Niners are going to take it.
We’ll see how -- or if -- the ripples of that decision impact New England.