The biggest surprise in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft Thursday night was not that the Arizona Cardinals chose former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall selection. The shocker was that Arizona did not in turn deal last year's 10th overall choice, Josh Rosen, to another team before the first round was up. Or better yet, before the draft ever started.
According to two league sources, the Cardinals and general manager Steve Keim began shopping Rosen in earnest minutes before the draft began at 8:00 p.m., and were seeking a first-round choice in return that no team was willing to give up. Rosen only found out about the team's intention to draft Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, moments before the pick. He found out from his agent only after Murray was seen in the green room taking a phone call while the Cardinals were on the clock. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury called Rosen minutes later.
At the same time, the Cardinals returned calls from Washington, Miami and the New York Giants, the three teams most interested in Murray, per a source close to the situation. Washington, with its draft war room literally split into three separate rooms, according to two league sources—ownership, middle management and coaches—was the frontrunner in the trade talks for Rosen. But team owner Dan Snyder and president Bruce Allen were resolved not to give up anything close to a first-round pick, and their resolve only grew stronger as their eventual first-round choice—former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins—slid ever closer to their 15th overall selection.
The market for Rosen diminished with each team that filled its need at quarterback. The Giants selected Duke's Daniel Jones at 6 and Washington selected Haskins at 15. With that, only Miami remained as an obvious destination for the former UCLA quarterback, and no other QBs came off the board.
After letting Rosen twist in the wind through months of speculation about the top pick—from a February declaration that “Josh is our guy” all the way up through his participation in camp just last week—it now appears Keim and the Cardinals have two options. They can reduce the price for the 22-year-old who passed for 2,278 yards as a rookie or wait until August, if and when an injury to a starting quarterback elsewhere in the NFL resuscitates the market for the fourth quarterback selected in last year's draft.
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