Tanking….that’s a word that has been thrown around the Arizona Cardinals franchise a lot since they traded a pair of former draft picks from the Steve Keim Era. But it’s hard to believe the Redbirds are in tank mode, since there is still way too much talent on this football team.
No, there isn’t enough talent to claim that they will be any good in 2023, but they have a system in place and players whose respective skillsets are suited to run such a system, both on offense and on defense. Even if the Cards finished with the NFL’s worst record, it wasn’t because they were trying to land the top pick or even a top five pick.
So let’s debunk the myth right now with three players the team would have to trade to officially put them in tank mode. Hint: All of the names listed below will make a greater impact for the Cards this season than Isaiah Simmons and Josh Jones would have.
The Arizona Cardinals aren’t tanking unless they end up trading…
1 - James Conner
James Conner has been the Arizona Cardinals offense’s most effective player since 2021, and he should be the centerpiece of the team’s run-first attack again in 2023. So far in his career with the Cards, Conner has rushed for 4.0 yards per carry with 1,534 rushing yards, and 22 rushing touchdowns.
While he’s “growing old” for a running back, Conner remains a scoring machine. And that trend will continue in 2023 behind an offensive line that is still deep, even without a key backup in Josh Jones.
It’s true that the Cards could have a serviceable back lining up as the RB2 in Keaontay Ingram, but Conner’s presence will at least help the Redbirds move the ball steadily if they maintain a solid running game. With Number 6 on the team, it’s going to be hard to accuse them of tanking simply because of his hard running near the sticks and ability to sneak out of the backfield to snag a few receptions.