As the momentum for the Cardinals to draft Kyler Murray continues to rise, Josh Rosen's trade value appears to be a lot less than what Arizona would hope.
"Probably a three," a general manager told Peter King of NBC Sports of what he'd give up for Rosen. "Not what the Cardinals would think his value is."
Former Cardinals quarterback and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner agreed, giving Rosen a third-round grade. The UCLA product was the No. 10 overall pick in last year's draft, with the Cardinals giving up a third- and fifth-round pick to move up and take what they thought was their quarterback of the future.
Rosen struggled during his rookie season, throwing for 2,278 yards and 11 touchdowns against 14 interceptions in 14 appearances (13 starts). His 66.7 rating was the lowest of any rookie quarterback.
The Cardinals are clearly considering Murray with the top pick in April's draft in Nashville, Tennessee. General manager Steve Keim has been less than firm in his commitment to Rosen in public.
"It's still early in the process," Keim told reporters of potentially drafting Murray. "We haven't gone through our full evaluation at all the position, so really it's, again, too early to say."
"Is Josh Rosen our quarterback? Yeah, he is, right now, for sure," Keim later said.
Given the delicate nature of the quarterback position, anything less than a full commitment is opening the door for a change. The New York Giants gave a stronger endorsement to 38-year-old Eli Manning than the Cardinals have to Rosen.
Reading the tea leaves, the Cardinals have likely either settled on taking Murray or are close to doing so. The 21-year-old Oklahoma Sooners quarterback has been a favorite of Kliff Kingsbury since the coach's time at Texas Tech. The Cardinals took a risk by hiring Kingsbury this offseason, so they need to do what they can to make the coach succeed. Giving him the quarterback he wants, rather than the choice of the previous coaching staff, is the best move for organizational harmony.
Rosen is also not a shy personality and no doubt hears the trade rumors. Odds are he wouldn't be quiet about expressing his opinion on the talks when and if he were to return to Arizona.
The Cardinals are likely aware of this and simply do not want to have a fire sale for a young quarterback they presumably still like. Kingsbury has been gushing in his public comments about Rosen, and Keim was the general manager when the club drafted him.
Last month, Kingsbury showed his support during an appearance on the Doug and Wolf show on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station, via the Cardinals' official website:
"He needs to understand we are in this together and I want him to know he kind of has the keys to the castle and let's build this deal as a group. Make sure he is comfortable with what we are doing, if he doesn't like something that is going on with this offense or the way I'm coaching it, let's talk about it and come up with the best answer. When (the QBs) have that type of ownership, it goes a long way."
King spoke with former NFL scout Greg Gabriel, who said the Cardinals almost certainly have not settled yet on who they're taking at No. 1.
"Could he have the lead in the clubhouse now? Sure," Gabriel said of Murray. "But nobody makes decisions like that this far out, without doing their due diligence."
The Cardinals' decision could come down to whether they like a trade package for Rosen. If they could get another first-round pick and Kingsbury doesn't want Rosen, that's probably the best move for the franchise. If teams stick with third-round offers, the Cardinals will have to weigh the cost-benefit of the move.