Tanking in the NFL is a taboo subject. It's not nearly as accepted as a form toward team improvement as it is in the NBA, for example. No league openly encourages the approach, yet the course of action is not without precedent nor completely forsaken as a legitimate possibility within closed rooms, depending on the available talent.

The 2024 NFL draft expects to feature a franchise-changing quarterback at the top of its class.

"[Caleb] Williams is Patrick Mahomes," an anonymous NFL general manager told ESPN's Matt Miller, "but we didn't know Mahomes was him yet [when he was drafted in 2017]."

A scout took the topic a step further when that evaluator told Miller, "He has the potential to be a guy owners want to lose [games] in December [to be able to draft]."

To be clear, those 53 men and coaches, who take the field win in and week out, are playing to win. However, all of them can be undercut to some degree by those not actively trying to win in the short term, i.e. ownership or front office personnel, with an eye toward the future.

Obviously, the start of the 2023 campaign is still two months away. However, seven franchise aren't in position to win at a high level because of their current quarterback situations and should consider the possibility of what it might take to land Williams.


Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals are staring down the possibility of owning next year's No. 1 overall draft pick as starting quarterback Kyler Murray continues to recover from a mid-December ACL tear—which means he may miss time during the 2023 regular season—and the team's roster is easily counted among the league's worst.

Considering those circumstances, plus the fact the Cardinals are now led by a new general manager in Monti Ossenfort and head coach in Jonathan Gannon, the Cardinals should already be looking toward their next step as an organization.

Murray's contract isn't the obstacle many probably assume it is.

Despite signing a five-year, $230.5 million extension before last season, the Cardinals can cut or trade the '19 No. 1 overall pick and actually save money toward the '24 salary cap. In a potential trade, Arizona can offload $38.9 million after the calendar turns to June, according to Over The Cap. Whereas an outright release with a June 1 designation still saves the team $3.6 million.

Even if the the latter manifests itself, the remaining portion of Murray's '24 figure plus an incoming No. 1 overall pick's initial presents a salary-cap increase of approximately $4 million beyond what Cardinals accounting already expects.

Arizona made a similar decision four years ago when the front office decided Murray was a better prospect than Josh Rosen, whom the team selected with the 10th overall pick a year prior. If Ossenfort and Gannon determine that Williams is superior to Murray, the former is the right choice for a team in the midst of a massive rebuild.