Talk of the Atlanta Falcons 'tanking' in order to snag a top rookie quarterback with one of the first two draft picks in 2023 has gained some traction in the media, but head coach Arthur Smith says the notion is the "dumbest thing" he's ever heard.
(This article was originally published on 20.05.2022)
The Falcons, 4/5 to win more than 4.5 regular season games, traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in March after an unsuccessful pursuit of former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson made the 14-year starter rethink his future in Georgia.
That has left them with no face of the franchise under center for the first time in ages with ex-Tennessee Titans starter Marcus Mariota set to get the first run at stabilising the position this season and third-round draft pick Desmond Ridder a Plan B option in reserve.
So, with Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and Ohio State triggerman C.J. Stroud heading the list of draft-eligible QBs for next spring, the sensible option for Atlanta might be to position themselves to take one.
But Smith refuses to countenance any idea that it can be advantageous for modern-era NFL teams to set themselves up to lose - in order to win in the long-term.
"It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard - that a team would try to not win football games," he told The Athletic.
"If you don't, there's going to be consequences. OK, you're at the top of the draft - I got it. But you're in a very transactional phase of the National Football League right now."
"Trades in the draft. Trades for quarterbacks. It's a different landscape than when Jimmy Johnson took over the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. It was pre-free agency."
And referring back to "the famous Herschel Walker trade" of 1989, in which Dallas gave up their star running back in order to build a winning franchise through the draft, Smith added: "They blew it up and went 1-15, and it was a long rebuild. That is not the same NFL as today."