The Arizona Cardinals, coming off a four-win season in 2022, has a lot of things going against them in 2023. They have a rookie coach and general manager, quarterback Kyler Murray is injured and they have not been super active in free agency.
Because of how things look now, SI.com’s Connor Orr suggests that tanking — or strategically trying not to be very good in the present to position the team in a better long-term spot — might be a good option.
The Cardinals may not have Kyler Murray for part of next season, so why not give him the most time possible to get healthy and, in the process, arm themselves with either the quarterback they’d like to take at No. 1 (giving a new coach and GM the flexibility to get out of the Murray business if they’d like) or a historic haul of draft picks with which to build around Murray?
The current Cardinals power structure has no allegiance to Murray, a talented quarterback who has already won an Offensive Rookie of the Year award and been to two Pro Bowls. Murray also has not played a complete season in two years, and the offense that he grew up in under Kliff Kingsbury is gone. It is going to be very hard for the Cardinals to make the case to themselves that they will be contenders in 2023, no matter how good first-year coach Jonathan Gannon is. The 49ers, barring an unfortunate stretch of injuries, are going to walk away with the NFC West. The Rams are still good enough and have Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. The Seahawks are as healthy as they’ve been in a decade and went all in this offseason in free agency.
Arizona needs options. It needs flexibility. This is one avenue that would keep a few parties happy. Murray doesn’t have to rush back from a serious injury, and could, in theory, rest for a year, extending his prime. No one would blame the Cardinals for not going for it if, say, Murray isn’t ready to play until mid-October.
Could that be the strategy? It could, I suppose.
However, everything that we have heard from GM Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon is that Murray is the centerpiece.
If Murray comes back and plays fantastically, there would be no reason to trade him and start over with a rookie next year.
If he struggles, there won’t be much of a market for him.
Now, are they trying to put together a Super Bowl team this year?
Yes and no.
They know that things go against them this year. They are going about things deliberately.
They want to compete in 2023 with guys who will change the culture of the team. They likely will not be a double-digit win team. But can they scratch and claw their way to a wild card berth? That’s not out of the question.
2023 is about setting the groundwork for what is coming in the future.
That isn’t about tanking.
Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.
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