Consider this: If Josh Rosen had been on the board at 32 last year, would the Patriots have selected him?
Understand, this is a player who went 10th overall. A player who – despite it being common knowledge (even to him) that he vigorously rubs people the wrong way - still was right there with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold as being the best bet at quarterback.
A player who now – after a season getting pummeled playing behind a porous offensive line for the worst team in the league – is now disposable because the new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, lusts after Kyler Murray.
We’ve done our due diligence on all the Rosen-to-Patriots rumors ever since it came clear he would be on the block. Their interest has been billed as tepid. At best.
When FOX Sports’ Joel Klatt reported the Patriots were among three teams heavily interested in dealing for Rosen, I chalked that up to somebody in Arizona using the Patriots as a stalking horse.
What better way to spark a market than by making it seem if your team doesn’t jump on Rosen, the best team in the league is going to and won’t your owner be pissed.
It hasn’t worked yet. And ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed my initial suspicion this morning on WEEI when he said the Patriots haven’t talked with Arizona about trading for Rosen.
It’s a ruse. A stunt. A shell game. A smoke screen, skullduggery, chicanery.
But should it be?
The Patriots aren’t going to be picking in the top 10 anytime soon. And even though they found the best quarterback of all time with the 199th pick in the draft, there’s more evidence that great quarterbacks are found in the first round than the sixth.
The Patriots have spent third-round picks on the likes of Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Mallett and Kevin O’Connell. They weren’t good. They got Jimmy Garoppolo in the second. He gave them six quarters of good and netted them a second-round pick back when they traded him.
In a draft that’s reputed to be stocked with interchangeably decent players from about the 15th to the 60th best player, the Patriots could still send No. 32 to Arizona for Rosen and have five more picks in the next two rounds. If they want to jump up, they have the artillery to do it.
And they can’t be using all 12 picks in this draft anyway, since they drafted 12 last year, only three played in games and no team needs 21 freshmen and redshirt freshmen running around their training camp.
If Rosen is a card-carrying dink, his comportment while being cuckolded by new head coach Kliff Kingsbury has been a terrific act. He’s handled it really well.
“I think Josh has done everything humanly possible to show what type of quarterback he is, what type of competitor he is,” Kingsbury said this week. “I’ve said it all along, I couldn’t be more impressed with his approach. He’s a great player. I mean, he was a top-10 pick for a reason. You see it out there how cerebral he is, how quickly he’s picked up our system.
“I just think there’s a misconception about him,” Kingsbury added. “He’s very confident in himself. He’s very smart, and I think people may mistake that as arrogance at times. But he’s a confident young man, and he asks the right questions. He’s very cerebral, and he works at it. I’ve enjoyed working with him.”
Now, Kingsbury certainly has reason this week to sidle up to the used car that is Rosen and say, “Isn’t she a beauty? Man, we hate to have to give her up but you know how it is…”
But forget about the salesmanship. The Patriots right now have Brady in his never-ending prime, Brian Hoyer (whose diminishing arm strength was clear last preseason) and seventh-rounder Danny Etling. This is their best chance to bring aboard a player talented enough to approximate Tom Brady that doesn’t have something radically wrong with him.
Last offseason, I banged the drum for the team to go after Teddy Bridgewater before he landed with the Jets. They didn’t do it and now Bridgewater is caddying for Drew Brees, providing that Super Bowl aspirant with insurance.
The Patriots have spent their late first-round picks on the likes of Dominique Easley (29th in 2014) and Malcom Brown (32nd in 2015). Last year, it was Sony Michel, a player who’s not destined to have a long career because of knee issues.
Unless there’s some absolute game-changer sitting there at 32 or an occasion for the Patriots to go up and grab said game-changer, I am fully on board with them dealing for Rosen.
For what that’s worth.
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