The Arizona Cardinals are entering a new era with Josh Rosen. For once, the franchise might finally have the right guy to go forward with.
Some franchises have all the luck. The Green Bay Packers went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. The San Francisco 49ers transitioned from Joe Montana to Steve Young. In Indianapolis, the Colts had no bridge between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.
Then there are the organizations that seemingly have no luck at all. Then, far beyond that, there are the Arizona Cardinals.
One of the founding teams of the NFL, the Cardinals have just two championships, and none since 1947. Their first title in 1925 remains an intense source of dispute. However, it isn’t just the lack of hardware that has Cardinals fans bemoaning their fate, it’ has been the lack of action.
While some teams draft quarterbacks until they get it right — no matter how many attempts it may take — the Cardinals have been content with retreads and older, established veterans. The result has been small windows to win and a lack of continuity, something that may have finally changed on April 26.
After decades of passivity at the sport’s most important position, general manager Steve Keim went bold and moved up five spots in the first round of the draft for Josh Rosen. Rosen, 21. is the first quarterback the Cardinals have chosen in the first round since 2006, when they made the fateful decision to select Matt Leinart.
Incredibly, he is only the eighth quarterback that the franchise has selected in the first two rounds since 1965, and just the fifth first-rounder in that same span. Perhaps the Cardinals have been shy because most the previous names are forgettable, including Leinart, Kelly Stouffer and Steve Pisarkiewicz. In ’65, the Cardianls got it right, selecting Joe Namath, only to lose him to the higher-paying New York Jets of the American Football League.
Now, Arizona fans have reason for excitement. Whether Rosen can beat out Sam Bradford for the starting job remains to be seen, but smart money says he won’t sit for long. Bradford is both injury-riddled and on a one-year deal, leaving ample reason to believe that Rosen will make his presence felt in 2018.
For the Cardinals, this is the first time the team has had the opportunity for a legitimate franchise quarterback since the days of Neil Lomax back in the early 1980s (some would argue Jim Hart in the ’70s, but the point stands). Unfortunately, neither Lomax or Hart were able to win a playoff game, a box Rosen hopes to check off quickly.
Still, Keim has work to do. The team has eroded some, especially with an aging Larry Fitzgerald and the release of Tyrann Mahtieu. There are still pillars to build around in David Johnson, Markus Golden, Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson and Deone Bucannon, but the rest of the roster needs help. If all goes according to plan, Rosen will become a star and everything else will follow in short order.
Ultimately, the Cardinals found simply have hope. They don’t yet know how Rosen will turn out. It’s unclear if he’ll be a bust or a superstar, with anything remaining possible.
In the moment, it doesn’t matter. Rosen is providing a reason to dream, something Cardinals faithful haven’t had in quite some time.
Top 10 offensive sleepers in 2018
1. Kenyon Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins
2. Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets
3. Will Fuller V, WR, Houston Texans
4. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
7. Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins
8. Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
9. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos
10. Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans
“Yeah, you know at that position, it kind of is what it is. You kind of, when the time comes, [expect to pay him]. I know Dak is going to have a good year this year. I hope it’s up there. It’s going to be as he deserves. He was a fourth-round pick. No one deserves to get paid fairly more than he does.”
– Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones on Dak Prescott’s next contract
When the season ends, this is going to be fascinating to watch. The Cowboys have ample cap space moving forward, so paying Prescott a mint shouldn’t be the problem. However, what does Jones see as the correct value? The 24-year-old has never thrown for 25 touchdowns or 3,700 yards in a season, but he also has just 17 interceptions total and has won 22 games.
Around the league, the San Francisco 49ers paid Jimmy Garoppolo to a deal worth $137.5 million with $74.1 million in guarantees. Garoppolo has incredible potential, but also only seven career starts. Kirk Cousins received a fully-guaranteed $84 million pact with the Minnesota Vikings, and an argument can be made for Prescott over Cousins, especially factoring in age.
It should be riveting to see what kind of extension Prescott eventually receives.
Matt Verderame and Josh Hill bring you a new episode of Stacking The Box every Monday, both on iTunes and live on the FanSided Facebook Live page. Make sure to watch/listen, subscribe and comment!
Michael Vick is the only quarterback to ever rush for 1,000 yards in a season, doing so with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006.
In Joe Flacco’s 10-year career, he has only amassed 766 rushing yards with the Baltimore Ravens.
Info learned this week
1. Lions make mess of old Patricia allegations
In 1996, a woman accused current Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia of sexual assault. Patricia was ultimately charged with one count of the crime before seeing it dropped, and with the story back in the news, Patricia continues to maintain his innocence. Fair enough.
However, the Lions put out a statement defending their coach, with it reading, in part, that “Matt was 21 at the time and on spring break in Texas.”
This is a shockingly bad statement from an organization that needs to know better. Patricia was never tried in a court of law and with the case dropped, there is no reason to drag his age or where he was into the conversation. By doing so, the Lions give the appearance of trying to explain away alleged actions.
Whether Patricia was charged as a 21 or 41-year-old, in his hometown or on spring break, is irrelevant. The alleged act itself is the only thing that matters. Trying to defend what was alleged to have happened by invoking spring break and a youthful age is both inappropriate and dangerous.
2. Panthers are nearing sale from Jerry Richardson
The Carolina Panthers are in the process of being sold to Steelers minority owner, David Tepper. Tepper, who made his fortune in hedge funds, would have to get out of his shares with the Steelers to avoid conflict of interest, before making anything final. That said, it would be surprising if Tepper isn’t named the new owner of the Panthers by the time league meetings are concluded in Atlanta on May 21-23.
Carolina has made quick work of the sale, something the league must be pleased with after watching the ugliness of Jerry Richardson’s end there. Richardson was accused of sexual harassment by multiple female employees, as detailed by Sports Illustrated. Once the initial story came out in December, Richardson immediately announced intent to sell.
3. Saints lose Ingram for first four games
On Tuesday, it was announced that New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram violated the NFL’s performing enhancing drug policy, and will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season. With Ingram on the shelf to start, the onus now falls squarely on the shoulders of Alvin Kamara.
Kamara enters his second year as the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but this will be a new challenge. In 2017, Kamara only had 120 carries and never had more than a dozen in any game. Without Ingram to help share the responsibilities, the former University of Tennessee star will be taking on the lion’s share.
This is a situation that certainly impacts New Orleans early, and could also haunt the Saints later.
4. Seahawks bring in Marshall for a visit
On Wednesday, the Seattle Seahawks hosted free-agent receiver Brandon Marshall on a visit, hoping to strike a deal with the 34-year old. Marshall, who has played for five teams, missed most of last season after breaking his leg with the New York Giants. During his 12-year career, Marshall has averaged more than 1,000 yards per campaign, including a 1,500-yard season with the Jets back in 2015.
If Marshall went to Seattle, he would form a nice tandem with Doug Baldwin. The Seahawks are in desperate need of help for Russell Wilson, considering the offseason losses of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson. Marshall is a red zone threat and a big body who can go up and win jump balls. He’s no longer an elite player, but he’s useful, and a legitimate upgrade for the Seahawks.
5. Patriots have issues along offensive line
It was revealed on Thursday that New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney needs surgery on foot. While Thuney is expected to be back in time for the regular season, it casts light on a larger issue. New England is employing a 41-year-old quarterback, and the offensive line is in major flux.
This offseason, left tackle Nate Solder left for the Giants and their $62 million offer. Bill Belichick has attempted to replace him with first-round tackle Isaiah Wynn, very much a boom-or-bust proposition. If Thuney is out, the depth is further tested.
The Patriots remain the favorite in the AFC, but cracks are starting to show in the two-time conference champs. The best thing going for New England? The competition is still incredibly wea, especially within the East.
The Los Angeles Rams were the first NFL team to paint their helmets, with running back Fred Gehrke taking the initiative in 1948. Gehrke put horns on all the leather caps, and the league would never look the same.
Of course, not everybody has gone with a design. The Cleveland Browns are the only team to have no logo on their helmets, although they used to have numbers on the sides. The Pittsburgh Steelers only have their logo on the right side, due to an experiment and a subsequently successful season.
Then there are the Philadelphia Eagles, who actually wore different-color helmets for home and away games in 1969. At home, the Eagles went white with a green wing, with the road getting the inverse.
Finally, how did names find their way onto the backs of uniforms? The NFL didn’t have any last names present until it was mandated as part of the 1970 merger agreement with the American Football League. In the AFL, it had been standard practice since its inception in 1960, with the owners hoping to get exposure for their players.
The AFL had some other unique looks to their product as well. The Oakland Raiders had shields as a backdrop to the numbers on the field, while the Kansas City Chiefs painted their field like never before. Their groundskeeper, George Toma, would go on to design all the Super Bowl looks for his work in the heartland.
Each season, teams get overlooked before storming onto the scene. Last year, the Buffalo Bills were the quintessential example, going from a team accused of tanking to a playoff spot.
In 2018, the Chicago Bears could be such a squad. Chicago hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2010, but the talent and coaching is in place to make a run in the admittedly brutal NFC North. The Bears made a terrific hire in head coach Matt Nagy, who should be able to get the best out of second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
With Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller on the outside, along with athletic tight end Trey Burton working the middle, the Bears have provided Trubisky with real weapons. Behind him are Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, one of the best combinations in the game.
Few expected much from the Rams in 2017, and they won the NFC West. Don’t look for the Bears to jump over the Vikings and Packers, but they could compete for a wild card in the stacked NFC, if we see a jump from Trubisky similar to Jared Goff’s improvement.