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The Cardinals are tanking this season – here’s why they should

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Photo Courtesy of All-Pro Reels

By Jack Willmore ’24

The Arizona Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins on May 16 after he wanted out. Then, they traded former first round pick Isaiah Simmons to the New York Giants for just a 7th round pick at the end of August, along with cutting their backup quarterback Colt McCoy.

This was a surprise to many people since he was the front-runner to start during the first couple games of the 2023 regular season as starting quarterback while Kyler Murray recovers from an ACL injury. Now, the starter is former Browns and Titans quarterback Josh Dobbs.

All these moves, like giving up Simmons for just a 7th round pick and cutting your surefire starting quarterback for week one begs the question: are the Arizona Cardinals tanking?

The short answer in my eyes: yes. Giving up Isiah Simmons for just a 7th round pick is insane. A guy who was the former No. 8 pick in the 2020 NFL draft now being valued for a single 7th round pick doesn’t seem right.

That trade raised my suspicions about the Cardinals planning to tank, but the transaction that made me feel sure they were going all in on tanking was cutting Colt McCoy.

Sure, McCoy was the backup to Kyler Murray the last few years, but that doesn’t mean he was a bad quarterback. In fact, he wasn’t a bad backup when Murray was hurt, helping the Cardinals to win a couple of games. When ESPN reported that Colt McCoy was cut on Instagram, all the comments said things along the lines of “just give them the No. 1 pick already.”

Now, I’m usually against tanking. I don’t believe you should try to lose almost every game of a season, whatever sport that is. But this situation is a different story.

Almost all mock drafts for the 2024 NFL draft have one guy at the No. 1 overall pick: USC Quarterback Caleb Williams. Williams won the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the best college football player in the country, last college football season. He threw for over 4,500 yards and 42 touchdowns as a sophomore and is on pace for an even bigger season this year.

Hunter Adams ’24 thinks that tanking to get the number one pick is the right idea. “I think the Cardinals should tank because they’re going to get the Texans first round [pick], they’re going to get their own first round [pick], and just go 1-16 and suck.”

This situation has me asking myself, “is it worth it to throw away a whole season for a college quarterback?” I get he’s been great but he didn’t put up 2019 LSU Joe Burrow numbers his sophomore season. Now, he may be able to achieve these stats in his junior season but USC has only played four games so far. It’s hard to tell.

There’s also the difficult question of what do you do with Kyler Murray? Murray hasn’t been the franchise quarterback the Cardinals thought they were drafting but he also hasn’t been terrible either. He’s never had a super team around him like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, which puts a limit on his success.

Raja Patel ’26 doesn’t think tanking is worth it for the Cardinals saying, “I think it’s good to go on a rebuild, but tanking is a lot, especially for the fans.”

Alex Johnson ’26 disagreed with Patel and ended up persuading him by saying, “I believe [they should tank] because their lineup right now isn’t as high performance as it could be. If they were to tank, it would definitely adhere to the theory that they could maybe increase the ratings of some of their players.”

The Cardinals need to ask themselves this question, “Do you use this as a proving season for the team or are you already all in on Caleb Williams before the season even starts?”

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Jack Willmore, Sports Editor
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