Looking into 2021, the NFL and fans can be expected to only see three preseason weeks with the extension of the regular schedule to 17 games. But due to the impact of COVID-19 on the league year, this preseason looks like it has the potential to be even shorter. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL and NFLPA are discussing cutting the preseason down to just two games ahead of the regular season match-ups.
For a player like Josh Rosen, this projection might be daunting. In an already unconventional professional trajectory, it’s no secret that the quarterback is likely on the trading block. When the Miami Dolphins traded for him in 2019, there were high hopes that become their new franchise quarterback.
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The Value of Preseason
Preseason exhibition games are essential for players who are new to a team, or competing for starting roles. It is the best opportunity to value a player whom coaches and leadership know little about when put into action. In a press conference on Thursday, new Dolphins center Ted Karras expressed his own fears with the rumors of a shortened preseason period.
“Every game is really important, but having two games instead of four to stand out as a guy – especially in any type of competition – definitely kind of raises the stakes,” Karras said.
But for Rosen, the stakes are even higher. Regardless of where he is, Rosen will have something to prove during preseason, and will likely see the field a lot. If he’s in Miami, he’ll be on the field in lieu of playing the team’s starter (Fitzpatrick is projected) and recovering backup (Tagovailoa), and using the opportunity to angle for trade value. If he’s elsewhere, he could be gunning for a starting job.
Rosen’s Future on the Line
The tenth overall pick of the 2018 draft, Rosen began his career with the Arizona Cardinals. While Rosen’s appearances were certainly lackluster, leadership changes with the team certainly had a significant impact on the team’s decision to trade Rosen after acquiring Kyler Murray in the 2019 draft.
For the Dolphins to trade Rosen, the team would want to acquire something negligible to the second-round draft pick that they gave up to acquire him, which doesn’t seem possible prior to preseason, particularly with quarterbacks still on the market. Cam Newton is still a free agent, and recent outcry for teams to sign Colin Kaepernick has been responded to by NFL teams.
To this point, the NFL has been fortunate in its league year to have been far less affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic than most other sports leagues. But as the season inches near, time is running out for the NFL to put off season-implicating decisions. And from Rosen’s standpoint, how things shake out in these meetings could have permanent consequences on his career.