QB Josh Rosen, former top-10 draft pick, signs with Falcons

AJ McCarron moved to injured reserve
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Josh Rosen throws a pass at NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, July 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Credit: Jeff Chiu

Credit: Jeff Chiu

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Josh Rosen throws a pass at NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, July 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Josh Rosen, who was the 10th player selected in the 2018 NFL draft, signed with the Falcons on Tuesday.

Backup quarterback AJ McCarron, who’s out for the season with a torn ACL, was placed on injured reserve. He was vying to replace Matt Schaub as Matt Ryan’s backup.

The Falcons held a tryout after Monday’s practice, and Rosen’s agent confirmed late Monday night that Rosen was signing with the Falcons.

The Falcons will be his fifth team and likely his last stop on the NFL train.

His story starts in Arizona. He was selected by the Cardinals and general manager Steve Keim for first-year coach Steve Wilks.

After a season, Wilks, who did a great job with the Panthers in the NFC South for years, was fired, and Rosen was traded to make way for quarterback Kyler Murray. Kliff Kingsbury, with no NFL head coaching experience, was hired.

The Dolphins thought enough of Rosen to give up a second-round pick in 2019 and a fifth-round pick in 2020. Adam Gase, who’s since been fired by the Jets, was the coach of the Dolphins at the time.

Gase apparently thought he could salvage Rosen’s career.

Rosen was ineffective with the Dolphins. He couldn’t read defenses fast enough, and those questions about his love of the game resurfaced.

Before the draft, his former UCLA coach, Jim Mora (the former Falcons coach), pointed out that Rosen needed to be “challenged intellectually” and attributed that to Rosen being a “millennial.”

The Dolphins lost their first two games by a combined score of 102-10 in 2019. Rosen was given the chance to start. Rosen made three consecutive starts against the Cowboys, the Chargers and Washington, but was pulled late in the third quarter against Washington with the Dolphins down 17-3.

After seeing enough of Rosen, the Dolphins handed the ball back to long-time journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick and tried to trade Rosen.

The Dolphins drafted former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick in 2020. After finding no takers for Rosen, the Dolphins released him.

The next stop was Tampa Bay, where Rosen was signed to the practice squad. He was signed by the 49ers in December. They would later trade up to No. 3 and draft quarterback Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. After playing in the exhibition opener against Kansas City on Aug. 14, Rosen was released by the 49ers last week.

“We’re going to work some guys out this (evening),” Smith said after Monday’s practice. “We’re going to continue to look at all avenues to see if we can add to that spot.”

McCarron suffered his injury in the second quarter of the 37-17 loss to the Dolphins on Saturday. He’s expected to have surgery over the next 10 to 12 days.

“It’s hard,” Smith said. “I always say there is no true blueprint for any kind of grief. There’s different griefs, obviously I’m not comparing it to something morbid, but it’s tough for these players.”

McCarron was having a better performance against the Dolphins than in his first outing against the Titans.

“A.J. is a guy, he’s been very good behind the scenes and stuff that you guys never see,” Smith said. “We’d like him around here, as much as he can be around here, he’s going to be on IR, but he still can provide some kind of value, and he wants to be around.”

Ryan has not played in the exhibition season, but is expected to play in the exhibition finale against the Browns at 8 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The 49ers run a similar offense to the Falcons, and they will attempt to get Rosen ready to play some.

“Regardless, if you try to say this guy’s been in a similar system, the language is different,” Smith said. “What you’re calling certain routes, and maybe the mechanics a little bit, maybe how you read something, so a lot of different philosophies.”

Smith said that the Titans were in a similar situation in 2014 when Charlie Whitehurst was the only available quarterback. They signed Jordan Palmer on a Monday and had him ready to be the backup by Thursday against Jacksonville.

“I remember spending that whole Monday trying to teach him protections and all that stuff, and to Jordan’s credit, he had a little box of plays if he had to go in there and he didn’t,” Smith said. “With the whole week, you can certainly limit it.”

Rosen will at least be ready for emergency duty.

“I just think it’s unfair to throw somebody out there and say here, here’s the entire game plan, you better be able to operate,” Smith said.

Rosen, who was listed on the updated depth chart as the co-No. 2 quarterback with Feleipe Franks, will be ready for action.

Rosen, who’s 6-foot-4 and 226 pounds, has played in 20 NFL games with 16 starts. He has a 3-13 record as a starter, completed 54.8% of his passes and has a 12-to-19 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio.

He as completed 275 of 502 passes for 2,845 yards and has a passer rating of 63.5.

Rosen was one of five quarterbacks selected in the first round in the 2018 draft. The other four, Baker Mayfield (Browns), Sam Darnold (Panthers), Josh Allen (Bills) and Lamar Jackson (Ravens), are expected to open the season as starters.

Some, including the AJC, had Rosen rated as the top quarterback in the group. Mora also thought he was the top quarterback in the draft if dedicated himself to the game.

The Falcons will continue to monitor the waiver wire when teams cut to 53 players next week.

Also, if Tennessee keeps Matt Barkley and cuts Logan Woodside, he could become a candidate to reunite with Smith. Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian, if he is cut, also could be reunited with Smith. Siemian spent time with the Titans in 2020 when Smith was the offensive coordinator.

“It doesn’t mean if we add somebody this week, it doesn’t mean that we may not add another person next week,” Smith said. “We’ll continue to monitor that.”

Here’s Rosen’s draft bio:

1. Josh Rosen, UCLA, 6-foot-4, 226 pounds (first round): He has survived some questionable comments from his former coach Jim Mora, but is immensely talented. His bizarre behavior and ability to lead has been heavily scrutinized during the pre-draft process. But physically, there is no question about his talent. He was a five-star recruit, but didn’t win big at UCLA while playing under three different coordinators. Rosen was the first true freshman in UCLA’s storied history to start the season opener. He passed for 3,670 yards, 23 touchdowns and had 11 interceptions, while setting several UCLA freshman records on the way to an 8-5 record. He had a shoulder injury and played just six games as a sophomore before going 6-7 last season as a junior. “Rosen needs to stop trying to do too much with his arm and improve his feel in the pocket, but his instincts and movements are reminiscent of Matt Ryan, projecting as a NFL starter,” according to Dane Brugler’s 2018 NFL draft guide.

The Bow Tie Chronicles

For more content about The Atlanta Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @DOrlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo