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It’s not every day you see a recent top-10 NFL draft pick appear on the negotiation list of a Canadian Football League team.
But that didn’t stop Edmonton from claiming the rights to quarterback Josh Rosen, who, so far, has been most famous for saying “nine mistakes” had been made ahead of him.
And Edmonton general manager Brock Sunderland doesn’t count on adding a 10th by claiming the rights to the six-foot-four, 226-pound UCLA product, who is currently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice roster.
“With his last year at UCLA, and again, where he went in the draft, did I ever envision putting a guy like that on the neg list? No,” Sunderland said of the first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. “Circumstances happened in Arizona, where they draft Kyler Murray (first overall in 2019), so he goes to Miami, and then Miami drafts Tua Tagovailoa (fifth overall in 2020).
“All of a sudden, he’s out there and he doesn’t get claimed, so I just put him on because you just never know. He’s on a practice squad and things are different in the NFL this year because of COVID.”
Rosen was one of 10 players revealed Thursday from Edmonton’s exclusive neg list — where no other team can bring such players into the league. CFL clubs are required to list 10 players twice during the year, following a measure approved at the 2018 winter meetings.
CFL bylaws state teams can claim exclusive CFL rights for up to 45 players by placing them on their neg lists. Players can be added, removed or traded from the lists at any time.
It’s a fine line to balance for CFL talent finders, who can’t simply claim the best of the best.
“That’s just it, is you want to put guys on there who are really good football players that you think may have a realistic chance of potentially being in this league,” Sunderland said. “Years ago, I was in the NFL at the time, but friends of mine said the first year Mark Sanchez was starting at USC, somebody had him on their neg list and everybody’s like, ‘What are you doing?’
“You don’t want to put the Heisman hopeful on the neg list if he has the height, weight, speed. You want to get the most talented players that you think at some point, due to whatever reasons, will be in this league.”
Obviously, Edmonton is secure at the quarterback spot with Trevor Harris, who is coming off one of the most dominant playoff performances in CFL history having completed 92.3 per cent of his passes on the way to more than 400 yards in an East Division semifinal win over the Montreal Alouettes.
But it can be fun to think about what the future may hold at the most important position on the field.
“Rosen’s a guy who I think is mentally talented. Obviously, he was drafted where he was because of that. He’s young and who knows what happens in the NFL,” Sunderland said. “Being very candid, is there a chance he gets activated and starts and three years from now, potentially everybody’s like: ‘Oh, my gosh. Why was he ever on a neg list?’
“If he hadn’t gone through the scenario where he was released from Miami and then went unclaimed, I probably don’t do it.”
Besides Rosen, Edmonton’s list includes quarterback Case Cookus, a Northern Arizona product and 2015 Jerry Rice Award recipient, and Virginia’s runnin’-gunnin’ Bryce Perkins, currently on the practice squad of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Just highly athletic, I mean, he’s a guy I think can change the game with his arm and with his legs,” Sunderland said of Perkins, a six-foot-two, 210-pound native of San Diego, Calif. “A highly prolific runner, his official 40 (yard sprint time) is 4.52 (seconds). So that lets you know a little bit about how much he can motor.
“Along with his athleticism, his ability to run and create with his legs, he’s got a very good arm as well. So he can do all the things to change the complexion of a game.”
And it hasn’t hurt having a former NFL play-caller and QB coach in Scott Milanovich taking over the head-coaching reins, either.
“It’s huge. He’s just got a high football acumen to begin with. His father was a high-school football coach in the state of Pennsylvania,” Sunderland said. “So he’s been around it forever, having just been at Jacksonville and been in those meetings to helping evaluate players for their yearly draft.
“And then just the connections, it’s a small fraternity. He knows several people, obviously still with Jacksonville, but with other organizations, as do I. Because we couldn’t visit NFL camps this year due to COVID, there were a lot of phone calls. So a couple of these were added because we trust them and they described them as players.
“It helps to have those connections, in particular with the quarterbacks with Scott.”
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
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