3 reasons the Arizona Cardinals were smart to keep fighting until the final whistle in 2023

We won’t remember the 2023 Arizona Cardinals as being a good football team, but they also made things interesting on numerous occasions.

Jan 7, 2024; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride (85) celebrates a
Jan 7, 2024; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride (85) celebrates a / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Despite the 4-13 record in 2023, the Arizona Cardinals showed us several times that they were never tanking the season. We know this not only because they refused to trade several key players from the Steve Keim days, but they also kept fighting hard and winning occasionally - including three victories against playoff teams. 

That said, a contingent of the Red Sea seemed to be rooting for the Cardinals to attain the highest draft pick possible, perhaps so they could draft a marquee talent like Marvin Harrison Jr., or trade down and collect more draft capital. But as you’re about to discover, such a strategy probably wouldn’t have done much good for the Cardinals thanks to the talent of the incoming draft class.

Further, quarterback Kyler Murray had eight games to prove himself, even if he basically managed to in just seven of those contests (or fewer). The Cardinals also weren’t a good football team, but they proved on multiple occasions they were good enough to hang with or make things interesting against even the league’s best. 

Jonathan Gannon
Jan 7, 2024; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon looks on after the / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Arizona Cardinals were brilliant to keep playing to win

1 - The 2024 draft class was simply too talented

It would, or could, be one thing if the 2024 draft class resembled the infamous 2013 class, which had limited talent. But this upcoming class may not have a single weak position group, so that negates any intentional losing to secure a higher pick. 

Sure, picking second or third instead of fourth could give the Cardinals leverage in a potential trade with a quarterback-needy team. It’s clear the Cards aren’t taking a quarterback, but it's hard to expect anyone calling up general manager Monti Ossenfort and asking to trade up in a class that features way too much talent at the position. 

Besides Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels, this class also has Bo Nix, Michael Penix, and perhaps JJ McCarthy available. Therefore, potentially six quarterbacks could go in the first round this season, and that also decreases power that non-quarterback-needy teams like the Cardinals may have otherwise possessed.