Best Of The Rest: The Greatest QBs In Franchise History

Football | 10/1/20

The quarterback position is the most important on any NFL team. Not only does he relay the play call from the sidelines to his offensive teammates, but he is also responsible for the effectiveness of the passing game. Some QBs, like Drew Brees and Tom Brady, are easily the best in the history of their franchises. For other teams, the choice isn’t as easy — in Philadelphia does the honor go to Ron Jaworski, Donovan McNabb, or Nick Foles? Read ahead to find out who the best QB in franchise history is for your favorite team!

Arizona Cardinals – Kurt Warner

kurt warner arizona
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

At the end of the day, Super Bowls matter, and this decision came down to the QB, Jim Hart, who spent 17 seasons in Arizona, or QB, Kurt Warner, who took the team to within moments of winning the Super Bowl. We went with Kurt Warner.

Signed as the back-up to Matt Leinart, Warner was supposed to help tutor the young player, not overtake his job. Warner did just, that, though. He became the starter and revived his career in the desert, leading the team to the Super Bowl in 2008.

Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan

matt ryan falcons
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

This one was pretty much a no-brainer. Matt Ryan was tasked with wiping the slate clean in Atlanta after the Michael Vick era ended. He did just that, becoming the unquestioned best QB in franchise history as well as a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate.

Ryan’s best year so far came in 2016. That MVP winning season he threw for 4,944 yards and tossed 38 touchdowns. He also led the Falcons to a 28-3 Super Bowl half time lead against the Patriots. If the defense hadn’t collapsed, he would have won a ring, too.

Buffalo Bill – Jim Kelly

jim kelly bills super bowl
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

It didn’t take much convincing to choose Jim Kelly as the greatest QB in Buffalo Bills’ history. A Hall of Famer, Kelly famously led the team to four straight Super Bowls at the peak of his career.

Granted, he never won a Super Bowl, but what Bills QB has? Kelly retired with 35,467 career passing yards and 237 touchdowns. He was selected to five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro three times.

Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton

camn ewton
John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A college stud whose game translated beautifully to the NFL, Cam Newton was the first overall draft pick in 2011 by the Carolina Panthers. Blessed with a cannon of an arm and the ability to run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, Newton was unstoppable until injuries started piling up.

He excelled in 2015 when he was named the NFL MVP and led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular-season record and a Super Bowl appearance.

Dallas Cowboys – Troy Aikman

FBN-TROY AIKMAN happy
ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP via Getty Images
ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys QB during their ’90s dynasty, Troy Aikman is a multiple Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer. While the team has had good QBs since his retirement, they have all failed to replicate his leadership and poise.

In 1993, Aikman was named the MVP of the Super Bowl. He was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls and won three straight Super Bowls, which is one of the most difficult accomplishments in all of professional sports.

Detroit Lions – Matthew Stafford

matthew stafford
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We’re sorry to any Lions fans upset that we would pick Matthew Stafford as the team’s best QB over Bobby Layne. While Layne won three NFL Championships, he also retired with a completion percentage under 50 percent, a number that would have him unemployed today.

Matthew Stafford has a career 62 percent completion rate and has over 41,000 total passing yards. In this case, the stats and consistency outweigh the championships. Plus, Stafford hasn’t retired yet and could still win a ring.

Green Bay Packers – Brett Favre And Aaron Rodgers

brett favre and aaron rodgers
Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This race was just too close to call. Everything Brett Favre accomplished in Green Bay being measured against the same metrics for Aaron Rodgers is just impossible. Favre won a Super Bowl, won three consecutive league MVPs, and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Aaron Rodgers also won a Super Bowl, has won two league MVP awards, and has a career passer rating of 102.6. The bottom line is that Green Bay is just spoiled.

Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson

Houston Texans deshaun watson
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Not even five years into his career and it’s safe to say that Deshaun Watson is the best QB in Houston Texans history. Hampered by a porous offensive line and a troubled play-caller, Watson has shown pass after pass he has unprecedented talent.

While being hit more than any QB at the start of a career, Watson has overcome, throwing for more than 70 touchdowns while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.

Philadelphia Eagles – Donovan McNabb

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys - Wild Card Round
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles have seen several supremely talented QBs take the field, but we’re giving Donovan McNabb our nod. Alongside head coach Andy Reid, McNabb started in five straight NFL Championship Games, winning one.

By the end of his tenure in Philly, McNabb’s skillset had clearly regressed, but when he was at his peak, the results were undeniable. If he had been able to beat Tom Brady’s Patriots in the Super Bowl who knows how he would be remembered today.

Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning

peyton manning
Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Peyton Manning appeared in two Super Bowls as the starting QB for the Indianapolis Colts, winning one. He was hyped as a generational talent when the team took him with the first overall pick in 1998, and he played up to the hype.

Manning played with the Colts until 2011 when a neck injury nearly ended his career. He retired four years later with 71,940 career passing yards and 539 touchdowns.

Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City Chiefs starting qb patrick mahomes
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes has accomplished too much in his short career for anyone else to be considered here. Mahomes blew up the league in his second season, winning the NFL MVP while throwing 50 touchdown passes.

The next season he won the first Super Bowl in Kansas City in 50 years. After, he was awarded by the team with a $450 million contract extension. Anyone saying Len Dawson should be the choice here hasn’t been paying attention to the NFL lately.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Mark Brunell

Mark Brunnell jaguars
Eliot J. Schechter /Allsport
Eliot J. Schechter /Allsport

The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t have high expectations when they entered the NFL as an expansion franchise in the ’90s. Little did they know that Mark Brunell was more than just another average QB.

Brunell was sensational in Jacksonville and turned the franchise into an early success story. The Jaguars reached the AFC Championship Game in just their second official season. Brunell left the Jaguars in 2003, and a suitable replacement has never been found.

Los Angeles Chargers – Dan Fouts

San Diego Chargers dan fouts
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

With how much success Philip Rivers had as the Chargers’ starting QB, it’s easy to forget just how great Dan Fouts was. Fouts helped originate the NFL’s deep passing game under the tutelage of Don Coryell and was the first in history to record 4,000 passing yards in three consecutive seasons.

Fouts led the Chargers to three AFC Championship Games, but never advanced to the Super Bowl — something he and Philip Rivers have in common.

Los Angeles Rams – Kurt Warner

kurt warner rams
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Yes, Kurt Warner has the distinction of being the best franchise QB for two NFL teams. He came out of nowhere with the St. Louis Rams (now Los Angeles) to win the NFL MVP and the Super Bowl.

Stacked with talent around him, Warner led what became known as the “Greatest Show on Turf.” During his time with the Rams, he won two NFL MVP awards and started two Super Bowls.

New York Jets – Joe Namath

New York Jets joe namath
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

“Broadway” Joe Namath may have been more famous off the field than he was on it as the starting QB for the New York Jets. One of the toughest players of all-time, Namath once guaranteed the team would beat the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.

The Jets won, and despite a career or mediocre stats, eventually was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The fact that so many years later he is still considered the best QB in franchise history says a lot about the Jets’ history after he left.

Las Vegas Raiders – Ken Stabler

Ken Stabler raiders
Robert Riger/Getty Images
Robert Riger/Getty Images

The Raiders have a history of QBs who played well for several years but never became franchise staples. Rich Gannon led the team to the Super Bowl and won the NFL MVP as a Raider, but his success faded as quickly as it came.

That leads us to Ken Stabler. Stabler stabilized the position under center in silver and black for a decade. He was named the NFL MVP in 1974, won Super Bowl XI, and was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Miami Dolphins – Dan Marino

Miami Dolphins qb dan marino
Focus on Sport via Getty Images
Focus on Sport via Getty Images

Dan Marino revolutionized the QB position during his long run in Miami. In 1984 he became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards. The feat would not be repeated until 2008.

Marino also retired with over 60,000 career yards, a record that seemed untouchable at the time. He led a pass-heavy attack during an era when most teams relied on the run to win games. The only blemish on his resume was his failure to win a Super Bowl.

New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints qb drew brees
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For a long time, the New Orleans Saints were known by fans as the “Aints.” The nickname was a product of just how unlucky the franchise was. Then Drew Brees came to town and changed everything.

Brees has not only set just about every passing record while in New Orleans, but he also won the Super Bowl in 2009, helping the city recover following Hurricane Katrina. There is no other QB in New Orleans history that comes close to accomplishing all the things Brees has.

New England Patriots – Tom Brady

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With six Super Bowl championships to his name, Tom Brady isn’t just the best QB in New England Patriots’ history, he is arguably the greatest QB in NFL history. The team didn’t have high expectations for Brady when he took over as the starter for an injured Drew Bledsoe in his second season, but here we are.

Not only is Brady the oldest starting QB in history to win a Super Bowl, but he also has plans to win more, well into his 40s. The only difference now is he plays for the Buccaneers, not the Patriots.

San Francisco 49ers – Joe Montana

Classic NFL joe montana
Icon Sportswire
Icon Sportswire

The San Francisco 49ers have been blessed with multiple talented QBs throughout their history. The list is long, but the one who stands out the most will always be Joe Montana. Montana led the 49ers to four Super Bowls, winning them all.

When he retired, he was considered the greatest QB to ever play the game. Even now, some analysts argue he is better than Tom Brady. What you choose to believe is up to you.