30 Most Overrated NFL Quarterbacks, Ranked
Some of the most overrated quarterbacks in NFL history are as obvious as sports analyst Mel Kiper’s hairpiece. Then, there’s Joe Namath, who’s at or near the top of every such list ever written.
Except for this one.
Lest we forget, no AFL quarterback passed for more yards and more touchdowns than Namath in his first five seasons (1965-69). Yet this is one career that can’t be measured by mere numbers. Broadway Joe changed the culture of pro sports. Dude, the guy invented cool. His unheard-of $427,000 rookie salary paved the way for the AFL-NFL merger. He also made the most significant guarantee in sports history. He was front and center in Super Bowl III, one of the most significant victories in all of team sports. Overrated? Really?
The worst thing about Namath was that he played too long on 85-year-old knees with bad teams. Except for a fairly remarkable 1970 season, his final eight ranged from just OK to downright sad. Even then, I wouldn’t call him overrated. That guy was an imposter.
So, no, you won’t see Joe Willie on this list. But you will find...
30. Peyton Manning
Career: 18 seasons (1998-2015)
Teams: Indianapolis Colts (1998-2011), Denver Broncos (2012-15)
Regular season/postseason records: 186-79/14-13
Regular season statistics: 266/.653/71,940/539/251
Bottom Line: Peyton Manning
Who do you get when you clone Eli Manning in the regular season and Peyton Manning in the postseason?
Archie Manning on any given Sunday, that’s who.
29. Philip Rivers
Career: 17 seasons (2004-20)
Teams: San Diego Chargers (2004-19), Indianapolis Colts (2020)
Regular season/postseason records: 134-106/5-7
Regular season statistics: 244/.649/63,440/421/209
Bottom Line: Philip Rivers
The guy put up some crazy stats, none crazier than this one: He never missed a start in his final 15 seasons.
It’s just that I don’t recall many times that he elevated his team beyond what was expected of it.
28. Colin Kaepernick
Career: 6 seasons (2011-16)
Teams: San Francisco 49ers (2011-16)
Regular season/postseason records: 28-30/4-2
Regular season statistics: 69/.598/12,271/73/30
Bottom Line: Colin Kaepernick
The longer Kap remains unemployed, the better he becomes in the minds of many.
Seems that the one-trick pony fooled a lot of people in the 2012 divisional playoffs when the bewildered Green Bay Packers had no clue how to stop the 49ers offense.
27. Daunte Culpepper
Career: 11 seasons (1999-2009)
Teams: Minnesota Vikings (1999-2005), Miami Dolphins (2006), Oakland Raiders (2007), Detroit Lions (2008-09)
Regular season/postseason records: 41-59/2-2
Regular season statistics: 105/.630/24,153/149/106
Bottom Line: Daunte Culpepper
The 11th pick of the 1999 draft wowed a lot of people with his big right arm. But if I needed a QB to lead a team in a big game, I would respectively take a pass.
After a phenomenal first full season, the guy failed to break .500 thereafter. Yet somehow, he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
26. Brett Favre
Career: 19 seasons (1991-2010)
Teams: Atlanta Falcons (1991), Green Bay Packers (1992-2007). New York Jets (2008), Minnesota Vikings (2009-10)
Regular season/postseason records: 186-112/13-11
Regular season statistics: 302/.620/71,838/508/336
Bottom Line: Brett Favre
Opie was a leader, played hurt and played to win. And I double dog dare ya to name a QB who was more fun to watch.
But as we know, he didn’t always know when to keep the gun in his holster, especially in postseason games, when he often shot himself in the leg. A few more ounces of discipline would have put him in the GOAT conversation, fraud scandals aside.
25. Eli Manning
Career: 16 seasons (2004-19)
Teams: New York Giants (2004-19)
Regular season/postseason records: 117-117/8-4
Regular season statistics: 236/.603/57,023/366/244
Bottom Line: Eli Manning
Some metrics have Eli’s little brother as the best clutch quarterback in playoff history. (Seriously.)
I say that, without teammate Justin Tuck, his two Super Bowls wins are reversed, which leaves him with a 4-4 postseason record. Couple that with his 117-117 mark in the regular season, and the guy is as average as average gets.
24. Steve McNair
Career: 13 seasons (1995-2007)
Teams: Tennessee Titans (1995-2005), Baltimore Ravens (2006-07)
Regular season/postseason records: 91-62/5-5
Regular season statistics: 161/.601/31,304/174/119
Bottom Line: Steve McNair
In the regular season, the three-time Pro Bowler was a dependable quarterback with leadership skills. In the playoffs, not so much.
Even in his Super Bowl season, he passed for a mere 514 yards and one touchdown pass in four postseason games.
23. Troy Aikman
Career: 12 seasons (1989-2000)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys (1989-2000)
Regular season/postseason records: 94-71/11-4
Regular season statistics: 165/.615/32,942/165/141
Bottom Line: Troy Aikman
Country boy Troy isn’t overrated as much as he was underused in run-oriented offenses. Hard to believe that he passed for as many as 20 touchdowns in only one season.
C’mon, Jerry Jones — he was better than that!
22. Warren Moon
Career: 17 seasons (1984-2000)
Teams: Houston Oilers (1984-93), Minnesota Vikings (1994-96), Seattle Seahawks (1997-98), Kansas City Chiefs (1999-2000)
Regular season/postseason records: 102-101/3-7
Regular season statistics: 208/.584/49,325/291/233
Bottom Line: Warren Moon
We never saw a full Moon — his first six seasons were wasted north of the border. After the guy finally got his chance, he put up crazy numbers in the run-and-shoot offense.
He also produced robust sack and interception totals, which tended to be overshadowed by some of the prettiest spirals known to man. Oh, and about that postseason record...
21. Jeff George
Career: 11 seasons (1990-2001)
Teams: Indianapolis Colts (1990-93), Atlanta Falcons (1993-96), Oakland Raiders (1997-98), Minnesota Vikings (1999), Washington Redskins (2000-01)
Regular season/postseason records: 46-78/1-2
Regular season statistics: 131/.579/27,602/154/113
Bottom Line: Jeff George
I don’t care if this guy is 53 years old. I want him and his right arm on my touch football team.
What I don’t want is for him to start with my NFL team, not with all those fumbles (70th most in league history) and pick sixes (12th) and so little poise under fire.
20. Michael Vick
Career: 13 seasons (2001-06, 2009-15)
Teams: Atlanta Falcons (2001-06), Philadelphia (2009-13), New York Jets (2014), Pittsburgh Steelers (2015)
Regular season/postseason records: 61-51-1/2-3
Regular season statistics: 143/.562/22,464/133/88
Bottom Line: Michael Vick
This scatter arm had itsy-bitsy hands (8.5 inches) for a quarterback, and he had insanely quick feet (4.33 at his Pro Day workout) for any position.
If I’m his coach in another lifetime, he will shred defenses in the slash role (running back/wide receiver/quarterback) and win multiple if undersized Super Bowl rings.
19. Dan Fouts
Career: 15 seasons (1973-87)
Teams: San Diego Chargers (1973-87)
Regular season/postseason records: 86-84-1/3-4
Regular season statistics: 181/.588/43,040/254/242
Bottom Line: Dan Fouts
In a five-year period (1978-82), no QB chucked the ball any better than this one. It’s the second season that puts him on this list. His 1979 postseason debut was beyond pathetic — five interceptions and zero touchdown passes in a 17-14 loss against the Houston Oilers jayvee team.
I wonder, is it too late for a league investigation?
18. John Elway
Career: 16 seasons (1983-98)
Teams: Denver Broncos (1983-98)
Regular season/postseason records: 148-82-1/14-7
Regular season statistics: 234/.569/51,475/300/226
Bottom Line: John Elway
This drama king made his legend off of 31 comebacks in the fourth quarter. Now riddle me this: How in h-e-double-uprights can a franchise GOAT with so many playoff contenders consistently be in said position in the first place?
Did he suck on purpose early so he could play hero ball late? Discuss.
17. Jim McMahon
Career: 15 seasons (1982-96)
Teams: Chicago Bears (1982-88), Philadelphia Eagles (1990-92), Minnesota Vikings (1993), Philadelphia Eagles (1994), (1995-96)
Regular season/postseason records: 67-30/3-3
Regular season statistics: 119/.580/18,148/100/90
Bottom Line: Jim McMahon
The Punky QB was a sawed-off Bill Walton in spikes — headband, weirdness, brittle bones and all. The XX-rated Super Bowl blowout was his final postseason win as a starter. From that point on, he served as a major distraction and royal pain in the butt.
As one-time Bears teammate Dan Hampton put it succinctly, “It was intolerable. When he left, I was glad.”
16. Joe Theismann
Career: 12 seasons (1974-85)
Teams: Washington Redskins (1974-85)
Regular season/postseason records: 77-47/6-2
Regular season statistics: 119/.567/25,206/160/138
Bottom Line: Joe Theismann
Theismann (rhymes with arrogant) was a one-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Pro Bowler. Then again, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs could have won with a mannequin behind center.
The Notre Dame product was an insufferable self-promoter who acted like God’s gift to football. His many critics would have liked to snapped his right leg like a turkey wishbone. But Lawrence Taylor did that for them.
15. Drew Bledsoe
Career: 14 seasons (1993-2006)
Teams: New England Patriots (1993-2006), Buffalo Bills
Regular season/postseason records: 98-95/3-3
Regular season statistics: 119/.567//160/138
Bottom Line: Drew Bledsoe
The No. 1 pick of the 1993 draft guided the Patriots to their second-ever Super Bowl appearance, but his most significant contribution was the brutal injury that launched the Tom Brady era eight years later.
While the guy was hardly a bust, he fell well short of expectations.
14. Bob Griese
Career: 14 seasons (1967-80)
Teams: Miami Dolphins (1967-80)
Regular season/postseason records: 92-56-3/6-5
Regular season statistics: 161/.562/25,092/192/172
Bottom Line: Bob Griese
Griese and Bart Starr were basically the same quarterback. Both were cerebral game managers who elevated the hand-off to new levels. Both played behind all-time offensive lines and with all-time head coaches.
The difference is that Starr won three more league titles or else this guy wouldn’t be on the list.
13. Ken Stabler
Career: 15 seasons (1970-84)
Teams: Oakland Raiders (1970-89), Houston Oilers (1980-81), New Orleans Saints (1982-84)
Regular season/postseason records: 96-49-1/7-5
Regular season statistics: 184/.598/27,038/194/222
Bottom Line: Ken Stabler
If this wild child had become a starter before his late 20s and boozed a lot less, he might not be on this list. Truth is, the guy wasn’t the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in the Bay Area in his day.
The only real difference between him and John Brodie was that the Raiduh had a Super Bowl ring and the 49er did not.
12. Vinny Testaverde
Career: 21 seasons (1987-2007)
Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-89), Cleveland Browns (1993-95), Baltimore Ravens (1996-97), New York Jets (1988-2003, 2005), Dallas Cowboys (2004), New England Patriots (2006), Carolina Panthers (2007)
Regular season/postseason records: 90-123-1//2-3
Regular season statistics: 233/.565/46,223/275/267
Bottom Line: Vinny Testaverde
This top dog of the 1987 draft went from the best team in college (Miami) to one of the worst of the pros.
Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised that, with the exception of a remarkable 1998 season with the Jets, he didn’t live up to the hype in a checkered career.
11. Don Meredith
Career: 9 seasons (1960-68)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys
Regular season/postseason records: 47-32-4/1-3
Regular season statistics: 104/.507/17,199/135/111
Bottom Line: Don Meredith
Where did the tradition of overrated Cowboys begin exactly? Right here, partner. In the two biggest games of his career — close losses against in back-to-back league championship games — this gunslinger shot himself in the foot both times.
When Dandy Dan turned out the lights and moved to the broadcast booth a short time later, he left behind a legacy of yet another overhyped Cowboy who couldn’t git ‘er done.
10. Brian Sipe
Career: 10 seasons (1974-83)
Teams: Cleveland Browns
Regular season/postseason records: 57-55/0-1
Regular season statistics: 125/.565/23,713/154/149
Bottom Line: Brian Sipe
Brownies fans still talk about their 1980 Kardiac Kids with such reverence, one would think they actually played in the Super Bowl that season.
Well, I’m afraid that I’ve got some bad news ... that dream died when Sipe threw a lame interception in the final minute of the AFC Championship Game, a predictable conclusion to the only postseason appearance of his mediocre career.
9. Daryle Lamonica
Career: 10 seasons (1963-72)
Teams: AFL Buffalo Bills (1963-66), AFL Oakland Raiders (1967-1969), Oakland Raiders (1970-72)
Regular season/postseason records: 66-16-6/4-5
Regular season statistics: 151/.495/19,154/164/138
Bottom Line: Daryle Lamonica
Was there a more apt nickname than The Mad Bomber back in the day? Few QBs have thrown a more majestic deep ball before or since. Yet the guy was more like The Mad Bummer in the postseason when loaded Raiduhs teams disappointed too many times.
Subtract two stats-padders against overmatched Houston Oilers teams, and his numbers look much different there.
8. Trent Dilfer
Career: 13 seasons (1994-2005, 2007)
Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1994-99), Baltimore Ravens (2000), Seattle Seahawks (2001-04), Cleveland Browns (2005), San Francisco 49ers (2007)
Regular season/postseason records: 58-55/5-1
Regular season statistics: 130/.555/20,518/113/129
Bottom Line: Trent Dilfer
The same metrics that claim Eli Manning is the greatest money quarterback in history say much of the same about this guy, too. Ha. Haha. Hahaha. Hahahaha. Hahahahaha.
Here’s what the formula doesn’t tell us: Dilfer scored four of his five postseasons dubyahs in one season with an all-time great defense on his side. My metrics say he was darn lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
7. Archie Manning
Career: 13 seasons (1971-84)
Teams: New Orleans Saints (1971-75, 1977-82), Houston Oilers (1982-83), Minnesota Vikings (1983-84)
Regular season/postseason records: 35-101-3/0-0
Regular season statistics: 130/.555/23,9111/125/173
Bottom Line: Archie Manning
The longer the Manning kids remain in the spotlight, the more sympathy we seem to have for their old man in his own career. Stop it, people.
Of course, the second pick of the 1971 draft would have done better with more support around him, but there was a reason that he never elevated any of his teams. Look, the guy was a legendary college quarterback. Now, can we let his forgettable pro career rest in pieces?
6. Sam Bradford
Career: 8 seasons (2010-18)
Teams: St. Louis Rams (2010-13), Philadelphia Eagles (2015), Minnesota Vikings (2016-17), Arizona Carnivals (2018)
Regular season/postseason records: 34-48-1
Regular season statistics: 83/.625/19,449/103/61
Bottom Line: Sam Bradford
This lilliputian with the oversized helmet was paid $130 million to win a measly 34 games in eight seasons. His six-year, $78 million rookie contract was so ridiculous, it led to the adoption of a wage scale that would have paid him $7.5 million less per season one year later.
He’s not only the most overrated and most overpaid quarterback in history but the luckiest one, too.
5. Kevin Kolb
Career: 6 seasons (2007-12)
Teams: St. Louis Rams (2007-10), Arizona Cardinals (2011-12)
Regular season/postseason records: 9-12/0-0
Regular season statistics: 34/.595/5,206/28/25
Bottom Line: Kevin Kolb
This second-round draft pick was overrated by the people who counted most — the wonks who doled out contracts.
They paid him $29 million to start 21 games in the regular season.
4. Drew Stanton
Career: 7 seasons (2008-10, 2014-17)
Teams: Detroit Lions (2008-10), Arizona Cardinals (2014-17)
Regular season/postseason records: 11-6/0-0
Regular season statistics: 38/.524/4,059/20/24
Bottom Line: Drew Stanton
Mamas, let your babies grow up to be back-up quarterbacks. This one made $32 million in his uneventful career.
His biggest contribution came in the 2014 season when he split time with third-stringer Ryan Lindley after starter Carson Palmer went down.
3. Brock Osweiler
Career: 7 seasons (2012-18)
Teams: Denver Broncos (2012-15, 2017), Houston Oilers (2016), Miami Dolphins (2018)
Regular season/postseason records: 15-15/1-1
Regular season statistics: 49/.598/23,9111/
Bottom Line: Brock Osweiler
So highly did the Texans think of B.O. after one-half season as a starter, they offered him a $72 million, four-year contract. He was paid $21 million to start 16 games (two in the postseason) before the company wonks cut their losses.
For those of you scoring at home, that’s a few pennies less than $19,000 per offensive play. And if you’re not scoring, you have my sympathy.
2. Josh McCown
Career: 16 seasons (2002-09, 2011, 2013-19)
Teams: Arizona Cardinals (2002-05), Detroit Lions (2006), Oakland Raiders (2007), Carolina Panthers (2008-09), Chicago Bears (2011, 2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Cleveland Browns (2015-16), New York Jets (2017-18), Philadelphia Eagles (2019)
Regular season/postseason records: 23-53/0-0
Regular season statistics: 102/.602/17,731/98-82
Bottom Line: Josh McCown
The eldest of the McNown bandits is wanted in nine states. That’s the number of teams that he fleeced over nearly two full decades, $52 million in all, or about $800,000 more than some stiff named Dan Marino.
He spent the 2010 season with the Hartford Colonials (3-5) of the United Football League, after which he stole $37.2 million more from the Bears, Buccaneers, Browns, Jets, Eagles...
1. JaMarcus Russell
Career: 3 seasons (2007-09)
Teams: Oakland Raiders (2007-09)
Regular season/postseason records: 7-18/0-0
Regular season statistics: 31/.521/4,083/18/23
Bottom Line: JaMarcus Russell
Raiduhs wonk Al Davis had a decision to make at the No. 1 pick prior to the 2007 draft — Russell or future Hall of Fame wideout Calvin Johnson.
He chose Megabust over Megatron and shelled out $39.4 million for three years of raw sewage. Just pay up, baby.