In the long-ago days of 2018, Rosen was one of the top quarterback prospects in the NFL draft. As a matter of fact, Rosen was the top prospect under center on the boards of some pundits. He didn't wind up being the first quarterback drafted—that was Baker Mayfield. He wasn't the second, either—that was Sam Darnold. Or the third—that was Josh Allen.
Rosen was, however, the fourth signal-caller drafted in 2018—10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals. What followed after was a fall from grace that was equal parts rapid and total.
After one disastrous season in the desert, Rosen was shipped to the Miami Dolphins for a pair of draft picks. After failing to beat out veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rosen spent most of last year watching from the sidelines. And now, it appears that the former UCLA star could once again be on the move.
As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported, with Fitzpatrick relatively entrenched as the team's Week 1 starter and rookie Tua Tagovailoa apparently healthy enough to back him up from the jump, the Dolphins are fielding trade inquiries for Rosen.
Any return the Dolphins get for Rosen at this point would likely be minimal at best. Rosen lost all three of his starts for the Dolphins in 2019 and completed just 53.2 percent of his passes for 567 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions. For his career, Rosen has hit on less than 55 percent of his pass attempts and posted a passer rating of 63.5.
That ain't good. If the Dolphins can't find a trade partner, it's not unimaginable that Rosen will be released outright at final roster cuts.
However, there is some context that must be taken into consideration when looking at Rosen's struggles. The 2018 Cardinals team that Rosen made 13 starts for featured limited skill position talent, an offensive line that allowed 52 sacks and a first-year defensive-minded head coach in Steve Wilks who was completely out of his depth.
In Miami, Rosen had arguably even less offensive talent to work with and was learning a new offense on the fly.
Neither situation was especially conducive to success.
It wasn't that long ago that long-time NFL starter Carson Palmer had this to say about Rosen's college film, via Jess Root of Cards Wire.
“I saw great accuracy," Palmer said. I saw a lot of zip and velocity on the ball. I saw him make difficult, challenging throws all over the field and down-the-field accuracy. He threw with great anticipation and great timing.”
Now, maybe we were all wrong about Rosen and he just doesn't have what it takes to be a capable NFL quarterback. Or it could be that Rosen's never had a chance to show what he's really capable of and just needs a chance to stay in one place for more than 10 minutes and develop.
Either way, there are a handful of NFL teams who would be well-served to consider offering up a conditional pick (or take a run at him if released) to bring in Rosen as depth under center.
They say you can't go home again. But perhaps a return to Southern California could be just what Rosen needs to get back on track.
Rams starter Jared Goff suffered through something of a down year in 2019—he set a career-high in pass attempts but saw his completion percentage drop and his passer rating fall by almost 15 points. He also threw just 22 touchdown passes against 16 interceptions.
Now, Rosen wouldn't be any challenge to Goff's status as the team's starter—not after the Rams handed him a four-year, $134 million extension. But the other two quarterbacks on the roster in L.A. at present are John Wolford and Bryce Perkins, who have combined to throw exactly zero passes in the NFL.
In Los Angeles, Rosen would have an opportunity he didn't have in either Arizona or Miami, even if it's holding a clipboard—he'd get to work with one of the brightest young offensive coaches in the NFL in Sean McVay.
Besides, it's not like the Rams are averse to trading away draft picks.
Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw what happens if Ben Roethlisberger goes down with a season-ending injury.
To say it was not pretty is an understatement.
That Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges went 8-6 in 14 starts for the Steelers last year says a lot more about the talent around them in Pittsburgh than it does those young quarterbacks. The pair combined to throw just 18 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions.
Neither young quarterback is any kind of long-term answer at the position behind the 38-year-old Roethlisberger.
In an absolute worst-case scenario, Rosen would be a sizable upgrade at the back of the depth chart over Hodges. A pretty compelling argument can be made (at least if you believe that Rosen hasn't received a fair shake to this point in his career) that he has a higher NFL ceiling than Rudolph.
Rosen wouldn't be working with an offensive-minded head coach in Pittsburgh. But he would go from two franchises that aren't exactly the model of stability to a Pittsburgh team that has been NFL bedrock for decades.
Like the aforementioned Steelers, the Atlanta Falcons suffered through a disappointing season in 2019. Like the Steelers, the Falcons have an established but aging veteran under center in 35-year-old Matt Ryan.
And like the Steelers, the depth chart behind Ryan isn't looking good.
As things stand today, the backup quarterback in Atlanta is 39-year-old Matt Schaub. There was a time when Schaub was a capable NFL starter—he made the Pro Bowl twice while at the helm of the Houston Texans.
But that was nearly a decade ago—since then, Schaub's biggest claim to fame has been setting an NFL record for consecutive games with a pick-six. Since that disastrous 2013 campaign, Schaub has started all of three games.
Rosen isn't a guaranteed upgrade over Schaub. But he isn't going to be any worse. He's also 16 years younger. In Atlanta, Rosen would have the opportunity to sit and learn behind both a veteran quarterback in Ryan and an experienced offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter.
His odds of seeing the field might not be great. But his odds of success if he did would be exponentially better than in Miami or Arizona given the talent on Atlanta's offense.
It's already been an eventful offseason for Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien. O'Brien shipped star wideout DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for running back David Johnson and then replaced Hopkins with veteran wideout Brandin Cooks.
Those moves were not especially well-received. But picking up Rosen on the cheap could be one of O'Brien's most sensible moves of the offseason.
Of course, The Texans are set so far as a starting quarterback goes with one of the NFL's brightest young stars at the position in Deshaun Watson. But Watson has had some issues with injuries in the past—his rookie season was ended by an ACL tear, and Watson has played in all 16 games in a season just once in three years.
If Watson were to go down with any sort of serious injury, so would any chance the Texans have of a fifth AFC South title in six years. Backup A.J. McCarron does have four NFL starts to his credit, but the former Alabama star (on a good day) is a low-ceiling game-manager with a limited arm.
Say what you will about O'Brien the general manager, but O'Brien the head coach is a plus offensive mind. If he can coax some improvement out of Rosen, it would give the Texans an exponentially better insurance policy against a Watson injury.