Who is the best quarterback of all-time in the NFL?
Quarterbacks since the history of the National Football League have no doubt played influential significant roles that sum up to the general performance of a team. The role has been one of the cynosure spots among various playing positions in American football.
While it was difficult to limit our list of the best quarterbacks the league has seen to 20, still, we managed to come up with the top-20 best quarterbacks of all-time in the NFL. To a large extent, our list was derived based on player accomplishments, talents and performance, alongside opinions from SportyTell editors and other pundits in the sport. Yes, this list does go beyond Super Bowl wins. That said, this is our best shot right now. So, let’s get right to it.
Table of Contents
Here are the best quarterbacks of all-time
20. Troy Aikman
- Dallas Cowboys (1989–2000)
The first choice pick of the 1989 NFL draft, Troy Aikman was a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys with 12 straight seasons as the major starting quarterback, never missing to headline a match except during injuries. He is the most featured quarterback in the franchise history. The course of his career has seen him earn six Pro Bowl selection and three Super Bowl trophies. In 2006 he became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
19. Ben Roethlisberger
- Pittsburgh Steelers (2004–date)
Presently with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in NFL history, Ben Roethlisberger showed his potential right at the start of his debut year by picking up the NFL offensive rookie of the year award. Twice he was named NFL yard passing leader and has six Pro Bowl selection. Although woes of injuries plague him during the 2019 season and hinder his performance, his name still rings a bell among NFL fans. Roethlisberger takes the 19th spot on our list of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
18. Fran Tarkenton
- Minnesota Vikings (1961–’66)
- New York Giants (1967–’71)
- Minnesota Vikings (1972–’78)
Although unlucky to win a Super Bowl after three defeats in all three Super bowl games he featured in, Fran Tarkenton is still considered as one of NFL’s greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Thirteen Non-consecutive seasons he played with the Minnesota Vikings and five seasons with the New York Giants saw him smash every quarterback record in the NFL and won several awards including NFL MVP award as well as the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
17. Kurt Warner
- Green Bay Packers (’94)
- Iowa Barnstormers (’95–’97)
- Amsterdam Admirals (’98)
- St. Louis Rams (’98–’03)
- New York Giants (2004)
- Arizona Cardinals (2005–’09)
His often injuries was a set back to his career, however, he still peaked high. He was an undrafted NFL player whose career took a positive turn upon signing for the Green Bay Packers in 1994. He became one of two quarterbacks in the history of the NFL to have won the Super Bowl in their very first season and the only undrafted player in the NFL to pick up the NFL MVP award as well as a Super Bowl title.
16. Aaron Rodgers
- Green Bay Packers (2005–date)
Aaron Rodgers was a substitute QB three years into his NFL career, until 2008 before becoming the major quarterback for the Packers. He aided the franchise to the Super Bowl XLV victory in 2010. He’s the all-time career passing leader in rating in a regular season and led various passing as well as touchdown records. Although still an active player with the Packers and hoping to achieve more feats, fans, players and various sports analyst already consider him among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time in the NFL.
15. Sid Luckman
- Chicago Bears (1939–’50)
- Newark Bears (’39)
Sid Luckman was one of the best long-range passers during his time. He spent 12 seasons in the NFL, picking multiple awards to his name. He tied the record of seven touchdown passes in a game in the NFL. He was a five-time all team pro. He never won the Super Bowl or earned a Pro Bowl invite, however, Luckman was one of the best quarterbacks to reckon with in his time.
14. Bart Starr
- Green Bay Packers (1956–’71)
He spent all 15 years of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers, where he became the only QB in the history of the NFL to lead a team to three straight championship title. He also won the first two Super Bowl with the Packers, clinching the MVP award of both. He earned four Pro Bowl invites in the course of his career. In 1977, six years after retirement, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
13. Terry Bradshaw
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1970–’83)
The first quarterback to attain four Super Bowl victories in the NFL, Bradshaw’s style of play was physically ardent and he was known among fellow players for his intense arm strength. During the course of his career, Terry Bradshaw earned three Pro bowl selection and once won the NFL MVP award.
12. Steve Young
- Los Angeles Express (1984–’85)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1985–’86)
- San Francisco 49ers (1987–’99)
Steve Young was one of the few effective quarterback passers who topped various passing rating records in his time. At the time of his retirement from professional football, he was the highest passer in ratings among quarterbacks with over 1000 pass attempt. In his 15 years stint in the NFL, he won various awards and trophies including three Super Bowl titles. He has seven Pro Bowl selection to his name.
11. Roger Staubach
- Dallas Cowboys (1969–’79)
Mostly known as Captain America, Roger Staubach debuted in the NFL as far back as 1963 and inputted all 11 seasons of his career for the Dallas Cowboys. He led the Cowboys to five Super Bowls, winning two and clinching the MVP award of the super bowl VI, thus becoming one among four players to win both the Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl MVP award.
10. Sammy Baugh
- Washington Redskins (1937–’52)
Late Sammy Baugh was one of the first great quarterbacks in the NFL. He led the Washington Redskin to two NFL titles. In the 1947 and 1948 seasons, Baugh was named NFL player of the year topping the league in various passing statistics.
9. Drew Brees
- San Diego Chargers (2001–’05)
- New Orleans Saints (2006–date)
The first pick of the 2001 NFL draft, Drew Brees signed with the San Diego Chargers and became the team, regular starting quarterback, in 2002. However, in 2006 he signed with the New Orleans Saint as a free agent and there he sparked immediate positive impact in the team showing great form as he led the franchise to its first-ever Super Bowl victory. Drew Brees is notably among the best quarterbacks of all-time in NFL.
8. Dan Marino
- Miami Dolphins (1983–’99)
In spite of not winning a Super Bowl, he still was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He held various records in relation to the quarterback role including a single-season record of 5,084 passing yards. 1983, Sporting News named him NFL rookie of the year and the following season he picked up the NFL MVP award a highly unusual feat for a debutant.
7. John Elway
- Denver Broncos (1983–’98)
Mostly remembered for his stellar performance, in the AFC championship game against the Cleaveland Browns where he produces an impressive 98-yard touch down within the last 37 seconds of the game. John Elway is the only quarterback to have scored a rushing touchdown in four Super Bowls. In his 16 years career in the NFL, he has won several awards including the NFL MVP award in the 1987 season.
6. Brett Favre
- Atlanta Falcons (’91)
- Green Bay Packers (’92–2007)
- New York Jets (2008)
- Minnesota Vikings (2009–2010)
The very first quarterback in the NFL to achieve pass completion for 500 touchdowns, to peak at a successful 6000 passes was Brett Favre. Setting a record of 297 consecutive starts, including playoffs starting appearance totalling it at 321 overall starts, he was the NFL passing touchdown leader four times, the first three consecutively between 1995–1997. Favre who also won the NFL MVP award thrice is also among the NFL best quarterbacks of all-time.
5. Otto Graham
- Cleveland Browns (1946–’55)
Otto Graham is a three times NFL MVP award winner and two times passing yard leader, who inputted all 9 years of his career with the Cleaveland Browns. As the major quarterback for the Browns, the franchise recorded 57 wins and won three NFL championship titles. At the point of his retirement in 1955, Graham held various statistical NFL records including the highest career winning percentage for a starting quarterback. Although most of his records have been broken in the modem era of American football. Graham was considered the most dominant player of his time and among the greatest quarterbacks in history.
4. Johnny Unitas
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1955)
- Baltimore Colts (’56–’72)
- San Diego Chargers (’73)
Popularly called “the Golden Arm”, Johnny Unitas was one of NFL’s finest quarterbacks. He spent most of his career with the Baltimore Colts and was named NFL Most Valuable Player thrice as well as NFL passing yard leader four times. He once held the record for the most consecutive games with a touchdown pass until he was surpassed in 2012. Media, fans and sports analysts have times and over regarded Johnny Unitas as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
3. Peyton Manning
- Indianapolis Colts (’98–2011)
- Denver Broncos (2012–2015)
As soon as Peyton Manning signed for the Indianapolis Colts, his impact to the team was obvious as he aided the struggling franchise to various playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title, the franchise’s first in over three decades. Winning the Super Bowl a second time with the Denver Broncos made him the only quarterback to feature and win the super bowl with more than one franchise. He won the NFL MVP award a whopping five times and was twice named NFL offensive player of the year.
2. Joe Montana
- San Francisco 49ers (1979–’92)
- Kansas City Chiefs (1993–’94)
Coming in at the second spot on our list of the best quarterbacks of all-time is Joe Montana. Mostly called ” Joe Cool”, Montana became the first quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP thrice. He has a career record for most passes without an interception in the Super Bowl. Twice, he emerged NFL passing rating leader, twice he picked up the NFL MVP award. He’s widely remembered for his remarkable 92-yard drive that sealed the Super Bowl XXIII title for the San Francisco 49ers in 1989.
1. Tom Brady
- New England Patriots (2000–2019)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2020–date)
With a record of four Super Bowl MVP awards and three NFL MVP awards to his name, Brady is one of two quarterbacks to clinch a Super Bowl title in their first season as a starter. Having never lost a season as a starting quarterback, he is the only quarterback to achieve 200 regular-season wins. While Brady might not be the best quarterback in the league presently, he definitely is one of the most achieved quarterbacks, having broken jaw breaking records and topped passing categories statistics. Presently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the media at large considers Brady as the greatest quarterback since the history of the NFL.
What do you think about these top-20 best quarterbacks of all-time? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.