Jewish NFL quarterback Josh Rosen signs deal to join Cleveland Browns

College standout has muddled through first three years, will be backup for team awaiting ruling on Deshaun Watson

Josh Rosen, then a quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, warms up before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York, January 2, 2022. (AP/Adrian Kraus)
Josh Rosen, then a quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, warms up before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York, January 2, 2022. (AP/Adrian Kraus)

The Cleveland Browns signed former first-round draft pick Josh Rosen as a backup quarterback Friday, as the team awaits word on the fate of its expensive starter Deshaun Watson.

Rosen, who is Jewish, was a standout in college at UCLA, but has failed to find his footing since being drafted 10th by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.

Rosen went 3-13 in starts for the Cardinals and Miami during his first two seasons. He was with Atlanta last season and appeared in four games.

In Cleveland, he will back up Watson and Jacoby Brissett when the season begins in September.

Watson is facing a possible NFL suspension after being accused by two dozen female massage therapists of sexual misconduct during sessions while the three-time Pro Bowler played for the Houston Texans.

Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson, the league’s disciplinary officer, is deciding whether Watson, who was traded to the Browns in March, has violated the personal conduct policy.

A fan of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson takes a selfie with the NFL all-star at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, June 20, 2019. (Paul Shindman/Times of Israel)

Rosen was one of several top college quarterbacks the Browns considered drafting with the first overall pick in 2018 before choosing Baker Mayfield. Cleveland traded Mayfield to Carolina earlier this month.

Ahead of the draft, Rosen’s Jewish identity came up several times, including during a radio show when Stephen A. Smith claimed Rosen wanted to land in New York because of its Jewish community.

“He’s Jewish, there’s a stronger Jewish community, he’d rather be in the New York market than the Cleveland market, blah, blah, blah. We don’t know, but it’s some of the things that we’ve heard,” he said.

Cleveland’s Jewish community is estimated to be 80,000 people, a fraction of New York’s, but Jews are no strangers to the city’s sports teams, including former Cavalier Omri Casspi and former Browns tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, right, is interviewed by NFL Network reporter Mike Mayock following UCLA’s pro day for NFL draft prospects in Los Angeles, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

In 2018, Rosen told that a lot of the trash talk directed at him on the field in college was antisemitic.

“I get a lot of Jewish things,” he told reporter Michael Silver. “My nose, particularly. I get, like, ‘Stay the f*** down, you Jewish bastard… I’m gonna break your f***in’ nose, you Jew.’”

The quarterback’s father is Charles Rosen, a noted orthopedic surgeon. His mother, Liz Lippincott, is a Quaker and is the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Wharton, who founded the prestigious Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania.

A 2014 profile noted that Rosen became a bar mitzvah and attends a seder every Passover, but he also celebrates Christmas and he called himself “kind of an atheist.”

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