Top 3 reasons why the Arizona Cardinals are not throwing the 2023 season
By Sion Fawkes
The common consensus in NFL circles is that the Arizona Cardinals are tanking, or throwing their 2023 campaign. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Arizona Cardinals are not throwing their season, and I say that with confidence. So regarding that report where an NFL executive claimed otherwise is something you need to take with less than a grain of salt.
This isn’t to say that the Cardinals are going to shock the NFL universe much in the same way that the New York Giants did last season, but they aren’t finishing 3-14 or 4-13. Realistically, 7-10 is a viable goal to hit at the absolute least.
Why do I know this to be the case? Here are three reasons no one in the desert is tanking in 2023.
3 reasons the Arizona Cardinals aren’t throwing the season
1 - The roster is too talented
DeAndre Hopkins or not, the Arizona Cardinals have too much talent on the roster to be considered a bottom-feeder football team. For example, let’s look at the pass catchers: You have the likes of Marquise Brown at receiver, while Zach Ertz is still a viable tight end, and Trey McBride is on the rise.
That talent increases if Kyler Murray makes it back in time, or even in the season’s early stages. Then you have a defense with one of the best safety tandems in football, and a fast riser in Marco Wilson.
Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, though not elite, have come into their own to become solid contributors on defense. And finally, there is untapped potential in a pair of ends/outside linebackers in Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders.
2 - The Cardinals are in an advantageous position for the NFL Draft
I’ve said it so many times that you’re probably growing tired of hearing me say it, but there is a lot general manager Monti Ossenfort can do with the third overall pick. If he hangs onto it, then Will Anderson Jr. is most likely in the desert. In a scenario where Ossenfort trades the pick, he’s getting a ransom of compensation for 2023 and 2024.
Any way you look at it, Ossenfort and the Cardinals are in the enviable position of having a high pick and a quarterback for 2023. And in a quarterback-rich class upfront, there will be a lot of interested teams now that we’re within two weeks of the draft.
3 - Free agency went better than many think
No, the Arizona Cardinals didn’t sign any big-name free agents to long-term deals. But they also didn’t stay idle during free agency. A team slated to tank wouldn’t be making so many under the radar moves that Ossenfort made.
Players like Hjalte Froholdt, Krys Barnes, Kyzir White, and Carlos Watkins, to name a few of them, are young, and were more than just spot starters. A team looking to tank would be signing two types of players: A bunch of 30-somethings well past their prime and young cast-offs, giving them the look of an expansion team roster.
That said, the Cards bear no markings of being a terrible team in 2023. They’re not likely going to be a playoff team, but they sure aren’t going to go out there and win between three and five games this season.