While it might be easy for writers and casual fans to take a look at a roster this thin and assume that there must be an underlying conspiracy of some sort, the fact is that the Arizona Cardinals should not have any interest in purposefully losing games.
After a former regime that allowed for any sort of behavior, including shady dealings, disgruntled players and an overall lack of accountability, Bidwill, for all his shortcomings, went with a new GM and coach that fall as far from the previous years as possible.
Gannon and Ossenfort have been running the show quite a bit differently since they've arrived in town. According to an article from Arizona Sports, Monti remarked that accountability and humility were key, and that the aim of the organization is singular.
""There's one goal here, to win. We're going to build a team. We're going to look for the right type of players.""- Monti Ossenfort
Does that sound like someone who's looking to drop as many games as possible in order to land the #1 pick? To some stubborn writers, possibly, but the truth is that Monti Ossenfort is a strong leader with a winning mentality. Regardless of how good Caleb Williams might look, this team wants to win, and that mentality begins with Monti.
Arizona Cardinals culture is leaving no room for 'tanking'
With regards to the QB situation, many assume that the Cardinals are looking to hold Kyler Murray out, for the purpose of--you guessed it--tanking and keeping Kyler's value for a potential trade. Jonathan Gannon immediately put those rumors to rest in a press conference.
Murray will begin at least the first four weeks on the PUP list, and the road to an ACL rehab is long and brutal. But the fact of the matter is this coaching staff and front office will not be keeping Murray sidelined to further their organizational goals.
The Cardinals have made some notable roster moves throughout the preseason, most remarkably trading former fist-round pick Isaiah Simmons and OT Josh Jones, as well as releasing veteran QB Colt McCoy. Many saw these moves as a ploy to rid the roster of talent and put themselves in position to lose games, but this is simply not the case.
The truth is, both draft picks were struggling extremely hard to find a fit in the organization. With both of their contracts up to expire, and both players offering little contribution on the field and in the locker room, the smart move was to be able to acquire something in exchange for them.
As for Colt McCoy, his rough preseason, age and lack of physical ability were the reason for his release. While there is an argument to be made that his experience and presence in the locker room would have been positive, Gannon and Ossenfort examined their QBs to see who would offer the best chance to perform well and win games--McCoy's abilities were unfortunately no longer compatible with that goal.
This is direct proof that the Cardinals are not looking to lose, but rather to rebuild. Fans aren't used to seeing rebuilds done in the right manner. They take time, and teams will need to start over--at the bottom. A high draft pick is a likely outcome regardless of intention, but there is zero reason to believe professional, accountable individuals will intentionally lose games.
The Arizona Cardinals are not "tanking," they are rebuilding with the future in mind, with a handle on a new culture that could free this organization from league scrutiny, with the potential to transform into a winning program in the not-so-distant future. Watch out for these Cardinals, they might sneak their way to a few unlikely wins.