Like Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury on Thursday night, Jimmy Johnson was a rookie NFL head coach, straight out of the college ranks, when he had the No. 1 overall draft pick with the Cowboys in 1989.
“He says to himself, ‘I’ll take this Troy Aikman,’ ” said Mark Dominik, former Buccaneers general manager and current SiriusXM NFL analyst.
“Then, a couple months later, he takes Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft, which ended up costing him [the first overall] pick in 1990. He was like, ‘If I can’t get this position right, nothing else matters.’ The same could be said of Kingsbury being in the NFC West looking up at Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff and Russell Wilson.”
Johnson didn’t care that two young, highly drafted quarterbacks would have to compete for the starting job. Kingsbury and Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim should feel the same way and not rush to trade Josh Rosen, the team’s first-round draft pick a year ago.
Establish the better quarterback first. Worry about a trade later.
“It’s obviously a nice benefit having Kyler Murray’s skill set to run Kliff Kingsbury’s [Texas Tech] offense,” Dominik said.
“But I don’t think you have to have Kyler Murray to run it. So, I would be in zero rush to trade Josh Rosen. I would wait even a year or so.”
That’s what Johnson did with Walsh, the St. Paul native who starred at Cretin High School and then at Miami under Johnson.
Once it became obvious that Aikman was the guy, Johnson traded Walsh to New Orleans in the fall of 1990.
In return, he got the Saints’ first- and third-round picks in 1991 and their second-round pick in 1992.
Picking Murray wasn’t a bad move. But it shouldn’t require immediately unloading Rosen, who showed some promise a year ago.
Yes, he completed just 55.2% of his passes while throwing more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (11). But he also was thrown into the starting job on a three-win team. And there’s no guarantee Murray will do any better.
“What if you trade Josh Rosen and he ends up being the better quarterback?” Dominik asked. “Talk about a franchise shock.”
With Murray and Rosen both on the roster, the Cardinals have double the chance of finding a franchise quarterback. Double the chance of making the AFC West the best quarterback division top to bottom.
And, financially, keeping both is a no-brainer.
“[Owner Bill Bidwill] has already bit the bullet on the big signing bonus to Rosen, about $11 million,” Dominik said.
“So that’s done. And now, Rosen’s base salary this year is only $570,000 with a roster bonus coming in that makes the cash to keep him only $1.3 million.
“So, I’m pro-drafting Murray and anti-trading Josh Rosen.”
Fun fact: Bringing Murray to Arizona gives the NFC West quarterbacks standing 5-10⅝ (Wilson) and 5-10⅛ (Murray). Count former Cowboys executive, Hall of Famer and SiriusXM NFL analyst Gil Brandt among those who dismiss concerns about Murray’s small stature.
“He is under 6 foot tall, but I tell you the guy has charisma; he has it,” Brandt said. “He’s a winner.
“In high school, in the best division in Texas, his team was 45-0. And he had only five passes blocked last year.
“He’s got the work ethic. He’s a pass-first guy who can really scare you with the run.
“He has a chance to make the Cardinals pretty good.”
The key word there? “Chance.”
Find out first before trading Rosen. Of course, that wasn’t a popular sentiment among the talking heads Thursday night as they screamed how there’s no way keeping both will work.
Obviously, the Cardinals could have unloaded Rosen on Thursday night. But they weren’t going to be lowballed.
They must realize that if there’s a market for Rosen now, the market will be as good if not better down the road, as it was for Jimmy and the Cowboys when they took a breath, staged a competition and waited a year to deal Walsh 29 years ago.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org