Tanking is a bit of a sensitive topic in NFL circles given the massive benefits that being bad for just one year can have for the future of their franchise via the NFL Draft. But over the past couple of days, serious allegations of blatant tanking have come to the forefront.
On Wednesday, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk called on the NFL to formally investigate allegations of tanking against the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. Former head coaches Brian Flores and Hue Jackson have claimed that they were offered bonuses to lose games to improve draft position.
Flores claimed that in 2019, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 in extra compensation per loss. Jackson hinted that he was offered "a good number" in compensation by the Browns front office to lose between 2016 and 2017.
It's one thing to tank by excessively resting good players and letting your backups play a full season to tank under the guise of "development." But blatantly incentivizing people to lose has serious consequences that greatly affect football's competitiveness.
The NFL incentivizes tanking via the NFL Draft, awarding the best position for taking the best college prospects to the teams that lose the most the year before. Some teams are so inept that that even with superior draft position, they can't find the best prospect.
But some prospects have been so elite and so can't-miss that they change the fortunes of a franchise forever. Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Joe Burrow rank among the most prominent examples.
No doubt the NFL will attempt to make these allegations go away. But with sports books making deeper and deeper inroads into the NFL, money might force them to address it. One way or another.
Will the NFL investigate the allegations of tanking?