Is straight-up tanking now a thing in the NFL?

I never thought it would be a thing in the NFL just because there are so many positions, it’s hard to think that any one pick is really gonna be the difference, and the Illuminati like over-mind that has always existed in that league that eyes watching them all are the currency of the league. But between the Raiders and Giants in the last few days(Full disclosure: I said Gruden is smart for doing it in another thread a day or two ago), is this a thing that has now crossed the threshold? Trading all rostered marketable talent for the picks you can get, and to try for the number one next year, out of the shadows and now a blatant strategy?

I doubt it. A football team is really just a bunch of individuals. And while the team as an abstract might benefit from losing in the short term to become better in the long term, the individuals do not benefit from this strategy. They’re the ones who would end up getting replaced by new people in this hypothetical better team.

So the individuals, players and coaches, do not want to work for some future gains. They want the team to do well now, while they are a part of it and can share in the benefits.

The year Payton Manning was hurt and Andrew Luck was the consensus number one pick in the upcoming draft, the Indianapolis Colts sure as hell didn’t try to win games. I don’t recall if they traded away anyone notable, but their QBs were pathetically bad and they made no attempt to address the position.

It certainly seems that way. I can’t remember a team divesting themselves of so many players this early in the season before. Whether Gruden had that on his mind before the season began when he got rid of Mack is up for debate - but getting rid of Cooper definitely makes the team much worse right now. And the Giants are doing the same thing.

Little Nemo - I don’t think the individual players are tanking, for the reasons you mentioned. But the front office can definitely tank the team all by themselves, and that’s what’s happening.

The players sure. They are going to try hard no matter what. They want to keep working. The coaches? Not so much. Sure they will still manage the games as best they can with what they have but it’s not like they aren’t working hand in hand with the front office that is holding the fire sale. Pat Shurmer is a first year coach. He is part of the strategy that the front office has put together.

Plus, considering the short shelf life of a player’s career in the NFL, the players can’t like this shit. They want to win now, because even without this tanking variable, they don’t know if they will even be on the roster next season, let alone three years from now when all these high draft picks start bearing fruit. And that’s IF that even happens, so this strategy is a huge gamble too.

I could see team Front Offices make a board room decision and make choices to that end but I always assumed that individual players are just too competitive to lay down like that.

To me, it seems pretty dang clear that the Raiders & Giants are tanking.

I’m conflicted on what to think about it in general though. On one hand, they’re cheating the fans for THIS year, on the other hand they’re probably better positioning the franchise for the future by clearing cap space and amassing draft picks. Would it be less despicable if they did it before the season instead of during? I dunno.

That was the “Suck for Luck” season.

I think the NFL does a better job than the NBA and MLB at having parity in the league. Other than the Patriots and to a lesser extent the Steelers (at the top) and the Browns (at the bottom) every other franchise has had it’s ups and downs over the past 20 years or so. Because of this, I think the number of teams that tank tends to be limited. This year, for example, is almost at the halfway mark, and only 4 or 5 teams are out of the playoff race entirely. Even a Browns fan can still maintain hope at the halfway mark this year. The NFL teams that tank also seem to do it with an eye towards getting better in the next year or two rather than just shedding salary and getting little in return the way baseball teams tend to do (Orioles, Marlins, Reds, Padres, etc.). All that being said, whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing probably depends on which team you’re a fan of. I’m sure Yankees and Warriors fans enjoy the lack of parity in MLB and the NBA, while a Cowboys fan might prefer that there be less parity in the NFL.

It did work out for them though. That was the 2011 season, and they went on to make the playoffs the next 3 years, then had a few average years, and are now towards the bottom of the league again. I’m sure in another few years they’ll be back among the upper part of the league. That’s just the way the NFL is now, unless a team has really good or really bad upper management and ownership (the aforementioned Patriots, Steelers, and Browns).

Tanking sure seems risky in the NFL, where one star player doesn’t really get you much (with the notable exception of the Manning-less colts).

Eli hasn’t looked great, but the Giants aren’t 1-6 just because of him. Similarly, the Raiders aren’t 1-5 just because Mack went to Chicago. Does anyone really believe that one high draft pick and a free agent signing or two is really gonna turn either of those teams around? Doesn’t seem likely to me.

The NFL definitely has better parity and this is almost totally because of the Salary cap and equal revenue sharing between the teams. No cap and the big markets get the best players because they have more money to spend.

I don’t follow college football. Is there some NCAA superstar who will be appearing in next season’s draft?

I’m not following college football closely, but the player who’s getting a lot of press right now (and playing exceptionally well) is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. However, he’s only a sophomore, and thus, not eligible for the NFL draft until 2020.

Total speculation here but the impression I got was that Gruden didn’t know how bad losing Mack would be. Once that became clear it seems like Oakland decided for a “screw it, let’s have a fire sale” kind of season.

A different kind of tanking happened under the previous CBA. The rules for the salary floor were very game-able, so some teams would pay well below the salary floor, lose a bunch and still make a lot of money because the TV and I think jersey money is split among all the teams.

One of the Theories on the Mack trade from on of the ESPN folks,was that the raiders wanted him, but flat out just couldn’t afford him. The guaranteed money of the contract has to be put in escrow at the time of the signing, And the Raiders may not have had the cash on hand to come close to what Mack would be getting in guarantees If true, that is very sad.

I think this is a big part of it. If I were a Giants season ticket holder, I’d be like “Oh? You’re tanking this season? Sweet. I’m relinquishing my season tickets, let me know when you’re DONE tanking and have decided to be good and competitive again. I’m out.”

In the Giants case, they clearly knew that Eli was in a downward decline and probably should have drafted a QB instead of Barkley. Eli gets to cry “But…but…TWO Superbowls!”, one of which was won moreso by the Strahan led defense than anything Eli did. I truly believe that the name on the back of Eli’s jersey has afforded him additional time that wouldn’t have been given to anyone else.

Eli is clearly done even being in the “Is he elite?” argument. He’s not close, and now everyone knows it.

That’s revisionist history at best. Eli’s stellar play in the 2007 post-season is what got them into the Superbowl in the first place, where he played quite well. The defense wouldn’t have been able to win that game without a good QB playing well on the offensive side of things.

He was particularly good on 3rd down throughout those playoffs.

Oh yeah, that’s been over for half a decade. The debate now is whether Eli is “replacement level.” I think he clearly is, and you can win games and get to the playoffs with a replacement level QB, but winning a Superbowl would be tough (though not impossible.) The problem is when you combine a replacement level QB who is immobile with a terrible offensive line. That combination has dumpster fire written all over it.

Somehow the Giants lost sight of how you build a good team: From the inside out. For the last half a decade they’ve been building from the outside in, and are now in exactly the situation you get when you do that. I mean, seriously, their OL has been an embarrassment for years, and the last five first round picks have gone to a RB, TE, CB, OL (who sucked), WR. Gah!