clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is the Arizona Cardinals’ QB1 job now in the hands of Joshua Dobbs?

While Kyler Murray continues his ACL rehab, can the QB with ties to Drew Petzing take command of stater’s job?

NFL: Preseason-Washington Commanders at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more intriguing trades in the NFL this past week was this one between the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns:

Josh Dobbs’ connections to the Arizona Cardinals:

  • Cardinals’ new OC Drew Petzing was Dobbs’ QB coach in Cleveland last year—- that is until Deshaun Watson returned in late November, when Watson was activated and Dobbs was released. Dobbs then spent a brief time on the Lions’ practice squad...until...
  • Cardinals’ new GM Monti Ossenfort had a part last season in poaching Josh Dobbs off the Lions’ practice squad with the full intention, with the playoffs on the line, of making Dobbs the fill-in starter for Ryan Tannehill, who was lost for the season due to an ankle injury. Titans’ rookie QB Malik Willis was struggling, so the Titans wanted to put the ball in Josh Dobbs’ hands with the hope he could lead the team into the playoffs.

What was the nature of Josh Dobbs tenure in Cleveland?

According to Barry Shuck, esteemed writer for “Dawgs By Nature” via SB Nation/Vox Media:

Dobbs (age 28) was originally a fourth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017. With Cleveland, he was on a one-year deal worth $1.035 million while Brissett was making $4.65 million. The Browns had worked out Watson’s big money deal to where he was only paid $1.035million during his suspension year and then jumped to $46 million a year beginning in 2023.

“Cleveland only wanted to keep two signalcallers and cutting Dobbs helped their salary cap. After starting two games for the Tennessee Titans plus the excellent preseason he had with the Browns, GM Andrew Berry re-signed Dobbs to compete for the backup job in training camp. This time around, Dobbs was inked to a $2 million deal fully guaranteed. As camp progressed, Dobbs was given more reps with the first team and solidified his standing as Watson’s backup.

“Meanwhile the Browns’ 5th round draft pick, QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson of UCLA, was tearing it up in preseason games. But keep in mind, when DTR was in the game, he was with the second team offensive unit playing against the other team’s backup defense. While the Browns were happy that their rookie was making a statement,

Dobbs had NFL experience and had been in the league since 2017. Nobody wants to insert a fifth-round rookie into a live game that counts, and Dobbs had clearly won the backup position.”

So why did the Browns trade Dobbs? Many media sources are asking the same question. (here is more insight from Barry Shuck)

“Arizona initiated the trade. And offering a fifth-round pick was certainly enticing for Berry for a backup player. The fact that DTR has surprised every one of his play during all four preseason games is certainly the reason. Stefanski had already announced that Dobbs was the Browns backup QB for this season.

“However, the Browns are counting on Watson to remain healthy which so far has been very durable. If DTR is suddenly thrust into an actual game that counts, it could be problematic - or hecould become this rookie sensation. DTR has yet to face any worthwhile competition other than backups. “

Was it Risky of the Browns to trade Dobbs?

Note: interesting that the reasons for not playing a rookie QB these Browns pundits are discussing, are what Cardinals’ pundits and fans have been discussing about Clayton Tune.

Were the Browns trying to Bait Teams to Trade for Josh Dobbs?

Reasons why the could have been::

  1. DTR mania is real in Cleveland.
  2. The Browns wanted to save $2M on Dobb’s guaranteed contract.
  3. So they cleverly made a very timely announcement wherein they not only stated that Josh Dobbs was going to be QB2 behind Watson —- and therefore, that DTR would be QB3 —- and that they were going to release QB Kellen Mond, another young QB who was getting a good long look from the team —- why announce their intentions of waiving Mond, other than to draw attention to the Browns’ QB situation?
  4. Did the Browns know the Cardinals could make a call for Dobbs? Yes —- and they were prepared for it all right
  5. In order to make the deal, the Cardinals had to up the ante on Dobbs to a 5th with the return of a 7th—-
  6. As soon as the the trade was announced, Kellen Mond was reportedly “recalled.”.


Regardless of what feels like an excessive overpay by the Cardinals for a backup QB on a one year $2M guaranteed contract who has only started 2 career games (0-2) in six years, I have always been intrigued with Josh Dobbs’ combination of arm strength and mobility. Plus —- his intelligence is literally off the charts —- did you know that at Tennessee he was studying to be a rocket scientist? That’s entirely legit.

Before the 2017 NFL Draft, I was mocking Dobbs to the Cardinals in the 3rd round. I was disappointed when the Steelers drafted him in the 4th round.

During free agency this year, I was touting Dobbs as a great choice to be Kyler’s fill-in until Kyler is able to return. Dobbs’ ties to Petzing and the Cardinals’ new offense were too good to ignore.

Except that the Cardinals were staying committed to Colt McCoy, despite the difficult arm injuries Colt suffered in 2022, compounded by a season-ending concussion.

Colt McCoy’s 2023 cap hit is $5M with $3.5M in dead cap, meaning that if the Cardinals release Colt they would recover $1.5M on the cap. Colt has been paid $6M in guaranteed Monet between last year and this year.

In light of Colt’s contract, whatever the Cardinals were offering Dobbs wasn’t enough for him to turn down the Browns’ $2M guaranteed offer.

Now that $2M guaranteed salary belongs to the Cardinals.

But, for this year, so does Josh Dobbs.

How Quickly Could Dobbs Play for the Cardinals?

One would have to believe that with two weeks to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals’ Week 1 away game versus the Washington Commanders, Monti Ossenfort could be feeling very confident that, if given the opportunity, Josh Dobbs could make his Cardinals’ debut as the starter at Washington.

Dobbs also has a head start this time around —- he knows Petzing’s playbook, as it is especially similar to the one he’s been quarterbacking in Cleveland.

Plus, wwo weeks was twice the amount of time that Josh Dobbs had to prepare for the Titans’ Week 17 game versus the Cowboys. Dobbs managed to learn what he could of the Titans’ playbook and started the game It was the first NFL start of his 6 year career.

Again In Week 18, Dobbs was tabbed to start the Titians’ game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. —- which was for the AFC South title and an automatic playoff berth .

Here were Dobbs’ numbers and the outcomes of the games:

  • Week 17: 20/39 passes for 232 yards, a TD (first of his career) and an INT, in the Titans’ 27-13 loss to the Cowboys.
  • Week 18: 20/29 passes for 179 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Despite leading the Titans to a 16-13 4th quarter lead, Jags’ safety Rayshawn Jenkins hit Dobbs on a blitz, which resulted in a strip sack, a scoop and a 37 yard romp for the Jaguars’ defense into the end zone, paving the way for the Jaguars to win the game 20-16 and eliminate their rivals from the playoffs..

While the Titans lost both of Josh Dobbs’ starts, the Tennessee Vol alum and former Steeler deserves a lot of credit. Under the circumstances, he played pretty danged well, especially to have helped the Titans to a 4th quarter lead against the then red-hot Jaguars —- all with the playoffs on the line.

Josh Dobbs Highlight Video

ROTB Questions:

Can you see how Josh Dobbs is a very good fit in Drew Petzing’s offense?

If you can, what are the main reasons?

ROTB Poll:


Would you be fine with the Cardinals starting Josh Dobbs Week 1 at Washington?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    (272 votes)
  • 3%
    (21 votes)
  • 7%
    I’d prefer Colt McCoy
    (41 votes)
  • 31%
    I’d prefer Clayton Tune
    (167 votes)
  • 5%
    I’d prefer David Blough
    (28 votes)
529 votes total Vote Now

Well, on a curious note, the one game Josh Dobbs played this preseason was against the Washington Commanders.