By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots are reportedly one of a few teams interested in Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen. His ultimate destination will say a lot about how much Bill Belichick really wanted him.
If he traded one or more of the Pats' 12 draft picks to bring Rosen to New England under the twilight of Tom Brady, it would generate quite the range of reactions. He overpaid. He stole the Patriots' next franchise QB. He should've used the pick on a receiver, or a tight end, or a pass rusher, or anything but a player who may not contribute until 2023. He should've traded for a different QB. Rosen sucks, Mike! Rosen is the Patriots' Steve Young, Tony.
A kaleidoscope of scorching takes would swirl around the sports landscape if Rosen became a Patriot. None of them would matter. What would matter is that Belichick wanted him.
The question is how badly.
Launching the Rosen-to-New England rumors was Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt, who said on "Undisputed" that the Pats, Giants, and Chargers are all "very interested" in trading for Rosen. He's ostensibly available to begin with because the Cardinals are widely expected to take Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick next month. Klatt says a second-round pick is already on the table from one of the three teams.
Arizona will inevitably sell low if they trade Rosen, whom they drafted 10th overall last year. And that could be a symphony to Belichick's ears. Before the 2018 draft, NESN's Doug Kyed reported that the Patriots showed interest in Rosen. Belichick would have had to trade up from No. 23 to get him then. Now he may only need to swap No. 56 or 64.
Most striking would be for Belichick to ship the 32nd pick to Arizona for Rosen. That would pretty much raise a seventh banner in Gillette Stadium, declaring that this is the guy who takes over for Brady when he's done. Until Brady decides "Actually I want to play until I'm 50" and Belichick has to make yet another stunning QB trade. Whatever happened from then on, a trade for Rosen would certainly be a bold investment for an unproven QB.
But that's not to judge Rosen solely by his rookie season. Thrust into an exceedingly poor situation, Rosen took over in Week 3 and went 217-for-393 (55.2 percent) passing for 2,272 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in 14 games. The Cardinals were such a mess that they fired head coach Steve Wilks after just one season. Now they've entered the Kliff Kingsbury era and they're likely pegging Murray as the next franchise QB. In other words, they have to trade Rosen if that's the path they've chosen.
That's why they probably won't get the first-round pick that Klatt says they're holding out for, not even No. 32 from the Patriots. These teams know where the Cardinals stand. But would Arizona settle for 56? Is the second-rounder actually coming from the Giants, who hold No. 37 overall? Are the Chargers really involved when they recently signed Tyrod Taylor to be Philip Rivers' backup?
Clearly, these questions won't get a definitive answer until the move actually happens. If it's to New England, it's likely that Belichick has identified the QB he wants to build around for the future. Say he trades 56 for Rosen. He can still use No. 32, 64, and/or 73 on high-upside weapons for both Brady and Rosen - in an ideal world. If Belichick's interest in Rosen a year ago was serious, then this is a move he should at least be heavily considering.
But it doesn't matter what anyone thinks Belichick should do, except Belichick. And if he ends up getting Rosen, he'll tell the world how confident he is that he's finally found the most important piece to the Patriots organization for the next decade: the man who takes over for No. 12.
Rosen may truly be that guy. We'll see how much Belichick himself believes that.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].