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Josh Rosen on the smarter, and longer, path with Buccaneers

From Top-10 pick to practice squad, Rosen hasn’t lost his intelligence

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a hard fall when a player goes from Top-10 NFL Draft pick to practice squad in just three years. This is the path laid behind new Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback, Josh Rosen.

The smiling young man standing on stage holding Arizona Cardinals red with the commissioner is a thing of the past. Now, we have a traveled and twice-scorned quarterback, looking for a chance to revive the promising career that never got off the ground.

When you think back to the 2018 NFL Draft, guys like NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks were calling Rosen the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. High praise, and also a compliment to Rosen’s mental acuity.

Like Luck however, Rosen was clearly someone who had the capabilities of living without football. A person who could be successful in life without the glamour and fame which accompanies the life of a starting NFL quarterback. The question surrounding Rosen wasn’t ability or potential, it was desire.

To be honest, I didn’t think Rosen was as good as many said he was coming out of UCLA. I thought he would need time; need to come onto a team which asked him to steer the ship, not be the engine or sails.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona brought him in to be the guy that made everything work. With a coach in his first season, and zero room for failure, apparently. Not exactly the healthiest of environments for a young quarterback to come into. If the questions about Rosen entering the league weren’t loud enough, they only got louder as he struggled through a 3-10 record as a starter where he threw eleven touchdowns compared to fourteen interceptions.

Then, he was traded. The Cardinals completely abandoned whatever plan, if they even had one, they had entering 2018 and jettisoned every key player involved. The team fired Steve Wilks after just one year, and traded the quarterback they drafted together to the Miami Dolphins.

In Miami, Rosen met another first-year head coach in Brian Flores. And with the addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick on the roster, it became clear quickly, Rosen was not the long-term plan for Miami.

This one-year stint went a bit better, as the Dolphins won five games, and Rosen got to witness the outpouring of talent rather than be a part of the purge. As the line of Dolphins departed for other teams, coach Flores was likely deciding how he wanted to shape the team moving forward. As most head coaches do, he also wanted to get ‘his guy’ at quarterback.

Again, not Rosen, and the Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth-pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. As soon as they did, the question came up: Where and when is Rosen’s next move?

The quarterback drafted to lead a franchise never had a chance. Until he did.

On September 4th, the Miami Dolphins waived the former first-round pick. On September 6th, he cleared waivers, and on that day Rosen finally had a chance to influence his own future.

With the proverbial ball in his own court for the first time in his short career, Rosen demonstrated something every scout and draft expert on Twitter raved about in 2018: His Intelligence.

According to Mike Garafolo, Rosen could have grabbed a spot on someone’s active roster. Who? I don’t know at this time, nor does it really matter. Bottom line is, an NFL player had a chance to be on an active NFL roster. Instead, he chose to be a practice squad guy.

Why? Well, we’ll have to ask him when the opportunity arises. Until then, I can only connect the dots I see, and those dots line-up directly with a goat and a whisper.

Let’s put one thing to rest right now. If Josh Rosen wasn’t committed to being an NFL quarterback he wouldn’t deal with what he’s dealt with in his career thus far. The fact he was drafted into an organization with no handle on their franchise’s direction, traded to one in the midst of a full re-model, and now voluntarily joins a practice squad, shows Rosen is fully committed to making this career work.

Now, by learning behind Tom Brady, practicing against this defense, and being exposed to Bruce Arians, Byron Leftwich, and Clyde Christensen, Rosen has entered into the Princeton University (ranked No. 1 by U.S. News; right above Harvard) of quarterback schools.

Adding to the brilliance of this decision, Rosen gets the opportunity to do his work in peace. Right now the news of the first-round pick landing on a practice squad is buzzworthy. It’ll quickly fade though. Once it does, Rosen can focus on his studies, with a chance to lay a foundation for his own abilities no previous franchise allowed him the chance to build.

Am I saying Rosen is the next great quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? No. My commentary is more about the individual player’s future than it is the team’s. Bottom line is this: For Rosen, this was the best situation he could find, not for 2020, but for 2021 and beyond. The fact he chose it over higher paying opportunities with a better chance at playing time is a testament to his intelligence, and I applaud him for trusting it.

For more of mine and James Yarcho’s thoughts on Josh Rosen joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad, check out today’s episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast!