When it comes to protecting the ultimate reality show’s ultimate reality show, certain sacrifices need to be made, apparently.
A story regarding quarterback Josh Rosen‘s clunky exit from Arizona contains a telling revelation regarding the effort to trade the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft. The Cardinals didn’t start the process until after they made quarterback Kyler Murray the first overall pick in this year’s draft.
Via Robert Klemko of SI.com, G.M. Steve Keim asked Rosen’s agent, Ryan Williams, whether the Patriots may have interest in Rosen — after the Murray selection.
“Williams was taken aback and grew angry,” Klemko writes. “How did Keim not already know the answer? The whole world knew, or had a good idea, that the Cardinals were taking Murray on Thursday. Why the secrecy? Why are we negotiating trade terms now instead of weeks ago?” (Emphasis in original.)
The obvious, and only logical, answer is this: The NFL wanted to maximize the relevance of its TV show.
If Rosen had been traded at any point before the draft, it instantly would have become obvious that the Cardinals were taking Murray. Which would have prevented ESPN and NFL Network from spending weeks generating false hype for a decision that secretly was a fait accompli.
And Arizona amazingly went along with it, helping boost the total viewership of the draft to, the league contends, 47.5 million over three days. (If you’re curious as to why I’m skeptical, it wouldn’t be the first time that the league was more than a little self-serving about the millions who were, or weren’t, served.)
So here’s the real question: What did the Cardinals get in return for undermining their short- and long-term strategic interests by failing to maximize the return for Rosen? Another Super Bowl in the desert? The draft? Something else the team has been lobbying for that may not be obvious?
Whatever it is, here’s hoping it was worth it. Because the Cardinals surely could have done better than pick No. 62 this year and a fifth-round selection next year if it had launched an auction at some point in March, and if it had shipped Rosen to the highest bidder, with teams like the Giants, Washington, the Chargers, and the Patriots also potentially at the table, regardless of whether the world would have known that the Cardinals would be drafting Kyler Murray.