NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attended a forum today for Jets season ticket holders. He notably was asked a question about tanking. Here was his answer.
Are the Jets tanking this season? Says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: "I don't think any team tanks. I really don't."— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) July 31, 2017
I think the question of tanking is motivation. Is a team intentionally getting bad to get better Draft picks?
Many people have concluded that is what the Jets are doing. I am less convinced.
Sometimes what is best for a team over the long run makes the team weaker in the short run.
It is undeniable that the Jets jettisoned players in the offseason who will help other teams in the NFL in 2017. In doing so they made their own team worse.
Even with those players, however, it was difficult to imagine the Jets having good odds for a successful season. This was a team that needed to think ahead to the future. That meant getting rid of old, expensive parts and trying to develop talent. 2017 was always going to be a difficult road. The question was whether the Jets would stay old and expensive as they struggled or whether they would start building for future years.
You can quibble with a move here or a move there, but in the big picture view the team needed to get rid of bloated contracts to older players. The smart long-term move was banking excess salary cap space, which can be carried over to future years when the Jets can find themselves in a more competitive situation. Practice reps are better spent on younger players who might be players by the time the Jets are ready to compete than older players who will not be on the team.
To me this isn’t tanking, and it better describes the team’s motivation than a team looking to be bad just to get better picks.