Special Report

30 Best Quarterbacks of All Time

Chris Graythen / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

Quarterbacks, more than any other position in any sport, need to play well for their team to have a shot at success. They are counted on to be the face of the franchise, the focal point of their offense, and the leader that their teammates turn to in big moments. There have been hundreds of NFL players who started at least a few games at QB, but only a handful have the statistics, accolades, and victories that separate them from the rest and distinguish them as the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Pro Football Reference on touchdown passes, passing yards, approximate value, Pro Bowls, All-Pro designations, MVP awards, NFL championships, and Hall of Fame status of every quarterback in NFL history to determine the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

The QB position has changed significantly over the years, as more and more teams are abandoning physical running games in favor of pass-heavy offenses. In the early days of the forward pass, quarterbacks could lead the league with less than 3,000 pass yards. These days, quarterbacks would likely need at least 4,800 in a season to be the league’s top passer. Still, early NFL QBs deserve to be acknowledged with more recent players, and a handful of the QBs on this list were playing in the NFL as early as the 1930s.

The ultimate measure of a quarterback, or any athlete for that matter, is winning. Yet there are still a number of QBs on this list who — in spite of all their personal accomplishments — were never quite able to get their team over the hump and win the Super Bowl. These are the greatest players who never won a championship.

Click here to see the 30 best quarterbacks of all time.
Click here to see our methodology.

Source: Al Bello / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

30. Jim Kelly
> Team(s): Buffalo Bills
> Years active: 1986-1996
> Championships: 0
> Honors: 5 Pro Bowls, Hall of Fame

Jim Kelly is the only quarterback to lead a team to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. He is also the only quarterback to lose four consecutive Super Bowls. When he retired after 11 NFL seasons, he was No. 10 on the career passing yardage list (35,467), and his QB rating of 84.4 was sixth highest at the time.

[in-text-ad]

29. Norm Van Brocklin
> Team(s): Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles
> Years active: 1949-1960
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 9x Pro Bowls, 1x MVP, Hall of Fame

Norm Van Brocklin still holds the record for most passing yards in one game at 554, in a 54-14 win with the Los Angeles Rams over the New York Yanks on Sept. 28, 1951. From 1950 to 1952, the future Hall of Famer split time at quarterback with Bob Waterfield, also a future Hall of Famer. The team won the 1951 NFL Championship, with Waterfield taking on the bulk of passing duties.

Van Brocklin got his moment in the sun after going to Philadelphia — leading the Eagles to the NFL Championship and winning NFL MVP in 1960.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

28. Roger Staubach
> Team(s): Dallas Cowboys
> Years active: 1969-1979
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 6x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

Although Roger Staubach was drafted in 1964 out of the U.S. Naval Academy, he didn’t begin his NFL career until 1969, after completing his military service. In 11 seasons, he started in four Super Bowls, winning two. He led the league in passer rating four times (1971, 73, 78, and 79). He was the first of four players to win both the Heisman Trophy and be named Super Bowl MVP (Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard).

Source: Getty Images

27. Ken Stabler
> Team(s): Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers
> Years active: 1970-1984
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 4x Pro Bowl, 1x MVP, Hall of Fame

Ken Stabler, who was elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously in 2016, led the Oakland Raiders to five straight AFC title games (1973-77) and the Super Bowl title in 1977. When he retired, he was No. 2 on the career pass completion percentage list (59.8). He’s 26th on the all-time game-winning drive list, with 26.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Courtesy of Donruss

26. Len Dawson
> Team(s): Kansas City Chiefs, PIttsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns
> Years active: 1957-1975
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 7x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

In addition to winning a Super Bowl, Len Dawson led the Kansas City Chiefs to two pre-Super Bowl AFL titles in 1962 and 1966. The Hall of Famer was the highest rated quarterback in AFL history, and his 182 TD passes from 1962-69 were more than any other pro quarterback during that time. An incredibly accurate passer, Dawson led the NFL in completion percentage for eight seasons, and led the league in touchdown passes four times.

Source: Tony Duffy / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

25. Dan Fouts
> Team(s): San Diego Chargers
> Years active: 1973-1987
> Championships: 0
> Honors: 6x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

In 1981, Hall of Famer Dan Fouts was the first quarterback to rack up over 4,800 passing yards in a season, breaking his previous single-season record of 4,715 yards from the year before. Fouts was ahead of his time in the run-heavy NFL of the 1970s and 1980s, leading the NFL in passing yards four times. Though he put up spectacular stats, Fouts could never bring the Chargers to the Super Bowl.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

24. Eli Manning
> Team(s): New York Giants
> Years active: 2004-2019
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 4x Pro Bowl

It’s the two Super Bowl titles that cement Eli Manning’s place on this list. In addition to being named Super Bowl MVP in both wins, he’s been incredibly durable. His streak of 210 consecutive starts is second among quarterbacks. He also ranks eighth all-time in pass completions (4,895) and passing yards (57,023) and ninth in passing TDs (366).

Source: George Gojkovich / Getty Images

23. Warren Moon
> Team(s): Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks
> Years active: 1984-2000
> Championships: 0
> Honors: 9x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

Warren Moon is a legend in both the NFL and the Canadian CFL — spending his early career north of the border with the Edmonton Eskimos. Moon was signed by the Houston Oilers ahead of the 1984 season, playing his first snap of NFL football at age 28. He quickly made up for lost time, making nine Pro Bowls from 1988-1997 and earning the 1990 NFL Offensive Player of the Year award. Moon was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Source: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

22. Philip Rivers
> Team(s): San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts
> Years active: 2004-2020
> Championships: 0
> Honors: 8x Pro Bowl

Following the 2020 NFL season, Philip Rivers announced his retirement after 17 seasons. His statistics are among the best of all time — he ranks fifth in both career passing yards (63,440) and touchdowns (421). Rivers led the NFL in completion percentage, passing yards, and passing touchdowns in three different seasons.

He also ranked first in yards per attempt three different times. Rivers was exceedingly durable, never missing a game since taking over the Chargers starting job in 2006. He amassed eight Pro Bowl appearances in his storied career.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Jay Publishing / Wikimedia Commons

21. Bobby Layne
> Team(s): Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, New York Bulldogs
> Years active: 1948-1962
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 6x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

Bobby Layne was one of the NFL’s original “gunslinger” quarterbacks and helped the league move forward to the pass-heavy game we watch today. He led the Lions to two NFL Championships in 1952 and 1953, and was on the roster when they won the title in 1957 but was sidelined with a broken ankle. Layne was lauded for his toughness and leadership and consistently performed well throughout his Hall of Fame career — he made six Pro Bowls in his 15 seasons, leading the NFL in passing yards twice.

Source: Rick Stewart / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

20. Troy Aikman
> Team(s): Dallas Cowboys
> Years active: 1989-2000
> Championships: 3
> Honors: 6x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

Troy Aikman’s three Super Bowl wins are fourth most among quarterbacks. His 90 regular season victories in the 1990s were the most by any quarterback in any decade until Peyton Manning surpassed him in the 2000s with 115 wins. He was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

19. Kurt Warner
> Team(s): St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals
> Years active: 1998-2009
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 4x Pro Bowl, 2x MVP, Hall of Fame

Kurt Warner is one of only two Hall of Fame quarterbacks not to be drafted. He’s tied with Dan Marino as the fastest to pass for 30,000 yards (114 games) and is tied for third for career completion percentage (65.5%). He’s also the only player inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Arena Football Hall of Fame.

Source: Focus on Sport / Getty Images

18. Bob Griese
> Team(s): Miami Dolphins
> Years active: 1967-1980
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 8x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

Bob Griese was the first quarterback to start three consecutive Super Bowls, winning the last two. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990, Griese efficiently led the Dolphins run-first offense, compiling 25,092 passing yards and throwing 192 touchdowns. In the two Super Bowl victories, he was a combined 14-of-18 when passing.

Source: Tenschert Photo Co Washington, D C / Wikimedia Commons

17. Sammy Baugh
> Team(s): Washington Redskins
> Years active: 1937-1952
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 6x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

When Sammy Baugh first entered the league he was a single wing tailback and only switched to quarterback after several years. He then proceeded to lead the league in pass completion percentage seven seasons. A member of the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1963, Baugh was one of the most complete players in league history, winning four punting titles and leading the league in interceptions in 1943.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Jim Rogash / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

16. Ben Roethlisberger
> Team(s): Pittsburgh Steelers
> Years active: 2004-present
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 6x Pro Bowl

Ben Roethlisberger was a winner from the start of his NFL career, setting the league mark by winning his first 15 regular season games (all 13 starts in 2004 and first two games of 2005) and for most regular season wins as a starting quarterback in his first five NFL seasons (51). At age 23, he became the youngest QB to win a Super Bowl. Going into his 18th season in 2021, Roethlisberger ranks in the top 10 all time in passing yards, completions, and touchdowns.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

15. Otto Graham
> Team(s):
> Years active: 1946-1955
> Championships: 3
> Honors: 5x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

Every season Otto Graham played for the Cleveland Browns, the team reached the league championship game — the first four as members of the AAFC and the last six in the NFL. With Graham under center, the Browns won four AAFC and three NFL titles. In his six NFL seasons, Graham led the league in completion percentage three times and passing yards twice.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

14. Terry Bradshaw
> Team(s): Pittsburgh Steelers
> Years active: 1970-1983
> Championships: 4
> Honors: 3x Pro Bowl, 1x MVP, Hall of Fame

Terry Bradshaw was the first quarterback to win four Super Bowls, accomplishing that in a six-season span with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Hall of Fame quarterback also led the Steelers to eight AFC championship appearances. When he retired, he held Super Bowl records for passing yards (932 yards) and touchdowns (9).

Source: Wikimedia Commons

13. Sid Luckman
> Team(s): Chicago Bears
> Years active: 1939-1950
> Championships: 4
> Honors: 3x Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame

The first modern T-formation quarterback, Sid Luckman led the Chicago Bears to NFL titles in 1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946. Sixty-eight years after his last pass, the Hall of Famer is still in the NFL record books as the career leader in passing touchdown percentage (7.9%) and No. 2 in yards per completion (16.2).

Source: Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

12. Fran Tarkenton
> Team(s): Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants
> Years active: 1961-1978
> Championships: 0
> Honors: 9x Pro Bowl, 1x MVP, Hall of Fame

When Fran Tarkenton retired after 18 seasons in the NFL, he held the career records for most pass completions (3,686), passing yards (47,003), and touchdowns (342). The first great scrambling quarterback, Tarkenton still ranks sixth all-time for quarterbacks with 3,674 rushing yards. He’s not ranked higher on this list because he never won a championship, going 0-for-3 in the Super Bowl.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

11. Steve Young
> Team(s): Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers
> Years active: 1985-1999
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 7x Pro Bowl, 2x MVP, Hall of Fame

Unlike most Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Steve Young wasn’t a star until his eighth season, the first of his two MVP seasons. Young struggled in his first two seasons, when he was a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and then moved to San Francisco to back up Joe Montana. Despite being a late bloomer, when Young retired he was the league’s leader in career QB rating (96.8) and is still fifth on the list. Young was a dual threat as his 4,239 rushing yards are the fifth most ever gained by a quarterback.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10. Bart Starr
> Team(s): Green Bay Packers
> Years active: 1956-1971
> Championships: 5
> Honors: 4x Pro Bowl, 1x MVP, Hall of Fame

Bart Starr went from a 17th round pick to a Hall of Famer and NFL legend. He was the first NFL quarterback to win five league titles: three pre-Super Bowl NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls. His career completion percentage of 57.4% was an NFL best when he retired in 1972, and he led the NFL in completion percentage in four different seasons.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

9. John Elway
> Team(s): Denver Broncos
> Years active: 1983-1998
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 9x Pro Bowl, 1x MVP, Hall of Fame

John Elway had one of the strongest arms of any quarterback, and he put it to good use: he ranks 10th all-time in passing yards, at 51,475. He is one of 13 quarterbacks to win both an MVP and a Super Bowl. For many years, it seemed he would come up short, but Elway finally powered his Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the last two seasons of his career.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

8. Aaron Rodgers
> Team(s): Green Bay Packers
> Years active: 2005-present
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 9x Pro Bowl, 3x MVP

Aaron Rodgers had big shoes to fill, replacing Hall of Famer Brett Favre in Green Bay. He’s done that admirably, becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in the process. Rodgers proved himself as an elite player when he took the 2010 Packers from being the lowest seeded team into the playoffs to Super Bowl champions.

Since then, he’s racked up awards and accolades, including three NFL MVP awards. His latest MVP came in 2020, when he was 37 years old. Rodgers is one of just four quarterbacks with a lifetime QB rating over 100, though he is the only player on that list with more than a decade of NFL experience.

7. Dan Marino
> Team(s): Miami Dolphins
> Years active: 1983-1999
> Championships: 0
> Honors: 9x Pro Bowl, 1x MVP, Hall of Fame

Dan Marino ranks on this list as the greatest quarterback without a championship ring. When he retired in 1999, he was the NFL career leader in passing TDs (420), passing yards (61,361), and completions (4,967). Throughout his career, Marino led the NFL in completions six times, passing yardage five times, and touchdowns three times.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

6. Drew Brees
> Team(s): San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints
> Years active: 2001-2020
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 13x Pro Bowl

In 2021, Drew Brees announced his retirement after 20 seasons in which he established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Many thought Brees’s career was over after he suffered a shoulder injury in 2005 with the Chargers, but he came back stronger than ever, signing with the New Orleans Saints. Brees is one of the most accurate passers of all-time, and his 67.7% completion percentage is the best among retired quarterbacks. Brees led the NFL in passing yards seven times and was the first to break 80,000 career passing yards.

Brees will forever have a place in the heart of New Orleans residents. His leadership of the Saints to the championship came not long after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, giving residents hope and something to cheer for.

Source: Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

5. Joe Montana
> Team(s): Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers
> Years active: 1979-1994
> Championships: 4
> Honors: 8x Pro Bowl, 2x MVP, Hall of Fame

Joe Montana’s a postseason legend with four Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers. He was also the first to be named Super Bowl MVP three times. It’s easy to overlook his regular season accomplishments. When the first-ballot Hall-of-Famer retired after the 1994 season, he led the all-time quarterback wins list (133), and his 92.3 QB rating was second all-time at the time.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

4. Johnny Unitas
> Team(s): Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers
> Years active: 1956-1973
> Championships: 3
> Honors: 10x Pro Bowl, 3x MVP, Hall of Fame

Johnny Unitas was considered the best quarterback of all-time when he retired. The Hall-of-Famer was the first QB to win three MVP awards, the first to throw for more than 40,000 yards (he finished with 40,239), and he held the mark for most consecutive games with a TD pass (47, set between 1956 and 1960) until Drew Brees broke it in 2012.

Source: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

3. Brett Favre
> Team(s): Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings
> Years active: 1991-2010
> Championships: 1
> Honors: 11x Pro Bowl, 3x MVP, Hall of Fame

Brett Favre earned a gunslinger reputation for throwing the ball deep into dangerous situations. This paid off more often than not as Favre made 11 Pro Bowls, earned three MVPs, and won a Super Bowl. Favre set regular season records for pass attempts (10,169) and completions (6,300).

He was also the first QB to throw 500 TDs (he finished with the second most TDs, at 508) and pass for 70,000 yards (71,838, No. 2), though he also holds the NFL record for most interceptions, at 336.

Source: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

2. Peyton Manning
> Team(s): Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos
> Years active: 1998-2015
> Championships: 2
> Honors: 14x Pro Bowl, 5x MVP, Hall of Fame

Peyton Manning is the rare first overall pick that actually surpassed the initial expectations. He revitalized the hapless Colts franchise — the team went 3-13 in his rookie year, then won at least 10 games in 11 of the next 12 seasons. He also led the Colts to their first and only title since the team left Baltimore for Indianapolis.

After missing the 2011 season with an injured neck, he joined the Denver Broncos and led the team to a Super Bowl title in 2015, which would be his 17th and final season. Manning has more NFL MVPs than any other player in history, with five. He retired with the records for most career TD passes and total passing yards.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1. Tom Brady
> Team(s): New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> Years active: 2000-present
> Championships: 7
> Honors: 14x Pro Bowl, 3x MVP

Tom Brady has proven himself to be the greatest quarterback of all time, and he is not done adding to his legend. Brady has been to 10 Super Bowls, winning seven — no other NFL player has more than five.

He has also put together some of the most impressive statistical seasons of all time, winning three MVP awards, leading the NFL in passing yards three times, and leading in touchdown passes four times. Brady has said he wants to keep playing, and assuming he continues performing at a high level, he will own virtually every single passing record when he retires.

Methodology:

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Pro Football Reference on touchdown passes, passing yards, approximate value, Pro Bowls, All-Pro designations, MVP awards, NFL championships, and Hall of Fame status of every quarterback in NFL history to determine the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

The approximate value statistic was not considered for quarterbacks whose careers started before that statistic was kept, and Hall of Fame status was not considered for active or recently retired quarterbacks. Quarterbacks were only given credit for titles won when they were the primary starting quarterback for that team. For instance, Steve Young was credited with one Super Bowl, even though he backed up Joe Montana during two Super Bowl campaigns.

Smart Investors Are Quietly Loading Up on These “Dividend Legends”

If you want your portfolio to pay you cash like clockwork, it’s time to stop blindly following conventional wisdom like relying on Dividend Aristocrats. There’s a better option, and we want to show you. We’re offering a brand-new report on 2 stocks we believe offer the rare combination of a high dividend yield and significant stock appreciation upside. If you’re tired of feeling one step behind in this market, this free report is a must-read for you.

Click here to download your FREE copy of “2 Dividend Legends to Hold Forever” and start improving your portfolio today.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.