Cardinals quarterback throws the ball.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals Aren't Tanking, They're Rebuilding

After a slew of trades from the Arizona Cardinals' front office, many fans have wondered if the team is tanking for the No. 1 pick.

As we march toward the start of the 2023-24 NFL season, we can't help but notice how dreadful the Arizona Cardinals look on paper compared to the rest of the league.

It goes further than "just on paper," though, as oddsmakers like DraftKings Sportsbook have the Cardinals win total set at 4.5, the lowest in the league.

The team is set to be without starting quarterback Kyler Murray for the better part of the season as he continues to recover from ACL surgery, so many are speculating, especially after their recent slew of trades, if they're planning on "tanking" this season.

Tanking is a term used to describe teams that deliberately lose to gain an advantage in the next draft class. In the case of the 2024 NFL Draft, the prized player appears to be USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams. Some consider him to be on the level of "the next Patrick Mahomes."

As Dov Kleiman points out above, the Cardinals recently traded Isaiah Simmons, a former first-round pick, for a seventh-round pick and Josh Jones, an offensive tackle, and a seventh-round pick for a fifth-round pick.

It's looking like the Cardinals will start Colt McCoy this season and perhaps let fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune get some action, but maybe we shouldn't immediately jump to the conclusion of tanking.

After all, this is an entirely new front office with general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon — it's not uncommon for new regimes to ship players out that don't fit their system.

Simmons is a versatile player, but his time with the Cardinals hasn't been what everyone thought would be different from his pass-rushing ability last season.

The Jones move is a bit head-scratching, but they did receive a fifth-round pick for a guy who wouldn't start in the last year of his rookie contract. Jones was an above-average pass-blocking left tackle through 417 snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

However, the Cardinals and Ossenfort appear to be gearing up for next season and consider this a dud.

The absence of Murray has put the team in a unique position to rebuild, and trading Simmons and Jones is hardly an indication of tanking. We must remember that the players on this team will play hard to either stay with the team moving forward or put out good tape to play for someone else.

So far, Ossenfort has done an excellent job gearing up for the 2024 NFL Draft. Just look at this slew of selections they have.

  • Round 1 (own pick)
  • Round 1 (from Houston Texans)
  • Round 2 (own pick)
  • Round 3 (own pick)
  • Round 3 (from Houston Texans)
  • Round 3 (from Tennessee Titans)
  • Round 4 (own pick)
  • Round 5 (own pick)
  • Round 5 (from Philadelphia Eagles)
  • Round 5 (from Houston Texans)
  • Round 7 (from New York Giants)

That's 11 picks and we can assume they'll use these to trade up and down the board to target players they want.

Let's not forget they also used a fifth-round pick to acquire quarterback Josh Dobbs from the Cleveland Browns.

Yes, the 2023 season will be horrific for the Cardinals, but we knew this before the Simmons and Jones deals.

What some might call tanking, we call strategizing for the betterment of the franchise's future.

MORE: The Arizona Cardinals Already Look Like a Disaster Judging From This Play