If a player clinches an insanely high NFL contract, he’ll be scrutinized. That being said, if the sports stratosphere piles on more credit than is due, he will wind up being considered an overrated player. The pressure is high, after all, and not everyone has what it takes. Here are some players that ended up being letdowns.
Mark Brunell was the fifth pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 1993 NFL Draft. In 1995, his arm was a powerful asset for the brand-new Jacksonville Jaguars expansion team. He took them to the playoffs four times during the organization’s first five years.
He was a 3-time Pro Bowler and led the NFL in passing in 1996. For five of his nine seasons with the Jags, he was great. Perhaps he should have retired while he was ahead. His career's remainder was marked by mediocrity until the overrated QB was forced to leave the league in 2011.
Joe Flacco started the 2020 season recovering from neck surgery. He came into the league as a first-round draft pick in 2008 with the Ravens, where he did not disappoint. He led Baltimore to Super Bowl XLVII as Super Bowl MVP, securing the title over the 49ers. Some argue he’s the greatest.
His arm is one of the league’s most powerful. Flacco is ranked the top-ten NFL quarterback for most post-season wins. However, since the late 2010s, he has slid into relative obscurity due to injuries. Also, though his post-season record impresses, his regular-season stats sags with average performance.
Matthew Stafford is an all-time great Lions quarterback with a string of top stats for passing yards and completions. He also broke the record as the highest-paid quarterback, scoring a $135 million contract for five years. His record for wins, however, is a career-low.
He has never taken Detroit to the Super Bowl. He has never taken the team to a playoff game. He may have more passing yards of any player in the NFL besides Payton Manning and Dan Marino, but there is nothing to show for it.
Dave Krieg holds the NFL career record in sacks. He was sacked more times than any other quarterback. Krieg sacrificed a total of 3,794 yards for six different teams starting with the Seahawks and finishing off with the Oilers. Having said that, Krieg played 19 seasons in the NFL, a long time for any football player.
He clocked a 98-77 record and ranked 13th in all-time for passing yards during that time. He has a respectable interception tally. Yet the overrated QB also holds the NFL record for fumbles.
Bernie Kosar came into the league with the Cleveland Browns in 1985. He was a top college arm destined for greatness. Kosar is a two-time Pro Bowler. As it turned out, this QB brought a solid game but missed on greatness. Kosar started strong with the Browns, but when he floundered, his contract was not renewed.
Moving on to the Cowboys, he won Super Bowl XXVIII. It’s an accolade, no doubt, but he wasn’t much help. Aa a second-string quarterback, Kosar only played four games during his year contract with Dallas.
Boomer Esiason signed with the Bengals in 1984 with visions of Super Bowl wins. By the end of his 14-year career, he did not win a Super Bowl. He did not land the Hall of Fame. Yet, typically, as an overrated quarterback, Esiason scored All-Pro honors, was a four-time Pro Bowler, and was named NFL MVP the year he took Cincinnati to the Super Bowl.
Yes, he made it to Super Bowl XXIII! But he took the team home empty-handed. To be honest, the Bengals have never clinched a championship. Post-NFL, Esiason hit success as a sports broadcaster.
When the Chicago Bears dominated the sport, Jim McMahon was a household name with a golden arm. We knew him in the “Super Bowl Shuffle” rap hit song and music video. He didn’t seem overrated then; he seemed like a deity.
Looking back, his stats don’t always reflect that, but one thing he had was a powerhouse of a team who made completions and protected him from being sacked. His winning 67-30 career record reflects his team’s greatness as well as his own.
The Giants revered Phil Simms. He played for NY his entire career, and at the end of his run, the organization retired his No. 11 jerseys. Kudos to him. But take a look at his stats. His QB rating is 78.5, placing him somewhere between mediocre and bad. His passing rate for completions is at 55.4%, and he passed 33,462 total yards.
Simms’ highpoint was leading the Giants to Super Bowl XXI and beating the Broncos. He was named Super Bowl MVP and set 22 out of 25 passing records. Nowadays, he’s a career broadcaster currently at CBS.
Sam Bradford cut a $78 million, 6-year contract when he entered the league with the Rams. The Heisman Trophy winner was expected to deliver, and as a rookie, he didn’t disappoint. He set the all-NFL rookie record for completions and won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
As it turned out, he didn’t deliver. It wasn’t his fault that injuries continued to plague him, but his 71.6 passing rates in 2017 with the Vikings earned him the NFL all-time worst record.
John Hadl is an old-school QB who played in the old American Football League. The AFL merged with the NFL in 1970. Hadl signed to the AFL in 1962. He led the Chargers in passing in 1965 and 1968. Plus, he was a four-time AFL All-Star, even notching the All-Star Game MVP in 1969.
In the end, the college Hall of Famer was outshined by San Diego quarterback Lance Alworth who made it to the NFL Hall of Fame. The Chargers released him. But signing with the Packers was his true downfall—the worst trade in NFL history.
High expectations met inconsistent performance with Eli Manning. New York brought him onto the Giants roster in 2004. He’s a classic example of an overrated quarterback. Manning retired as the highest-paid player in history, raking in a career payout of $235 million. His stats offer up a different story.
With a passing rating of 84.1% and 362 TDs in his 16 seasons with the NY Giants, he was adequate. On top of that, he threw too many interceptions. He led the team to two Super Bowl victories and set records in passing and TDs at the Giants franchise.
Cowboys star quarterback Troy Aikman was a six-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP. During his 12 seasons, he delivered three Super Bowl wins to the Dallas team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. But let’s look at his stats.
Aikman threw 141 interceptions and launched 165 touchdown passes. His QB ratings reached into the 90s for only two seasons of his career. His performance dipped into the 50s and 60s three times, very low, giving him an 81.6 career rating. This places him squarely in the average category.
When fans think of overrated quarterbacks, Vinny Testaverde comes to mind. Drafted first overall, young Testaverde came to the NFL with a Heisman Trophy and stars in his eyes, but he would not outlive a glorified reputation. Testaverde played for several teams during his long NFL career but only really shined with the New York Jets.
With 21 seasons under his belt, he had plenty of time to whittle down his stats. He has a win-percentage of 42.3, the lowest of any QB in his category. Then again, he completed record passing yards. Bottom line: He holds the record, 123 losses.
Ron Jaworski was an NFL quarterback from 1974 to 1989. These days he’s into golf course management and is known as a celebrated sportscaster, but back in the day, he was nicknamed “Jaws.” He held the regular season TD record with 170 completions, unsurpassed until 2008.
Overall, however, Jaws completed a very average 2,187 passes out of 4,117 attempts. Add to that his 164 interceptions, and Jaworski does not seem like the sea's apex fish.
Jim Hart remains a hero in St. Louis, despite the fact the Cardinals have moved to Arizona, and even though he led the Cards through some losing times. During his time in the NFL, 1966 to 1984, Hart was a four-time Pro Bowler. However, at the 1977 Pro Bowl, he allowed five interceptions, an NFL record low.
To be honest, he excelled at throwing the ball to the wrong team with 247 career interceptions. On top of that, he was sacked 243 times, also exposing a weakness in the Cardinals defense. Overall, Hart’s QB rating is 66.6.
Before they lost their team to LA, San Diego Chargers fans were notorious for doting over players who don’t totally suck. They are loyal and appreciative, and Dan Fouts lavished in it. He was one of them.
He played for the Chargers his entire career. This Hall of Famer earned some accolades, for sure. He threw 43,000 yards and 254 TDs. Checking in with his QB rating, on the other hand, we find a completely adequate 80.2.
Like the Chicago Bears made a hero of Jim McMahon, Terry Bradshaw is a dynasty team product that could have exalted any QB. The Pittsburg Steelers in the ‘70s were a powerhouse. The team had Bradshaw’s back with stellar defense and near-perfect completions.
Tellingly, one infamous Bradshaw pass was heading straight into the arms of the opposing team until his guy basically intercepted the throw and made the completion. He’s overrated. Even with the indomitable Steelers, Bradshaw managed 210 interceptions and tapped out with a 70.9 QB rating.
Ken Stabler is another NFL quarterback who leads in interceptions. He threw the ball away 222 times. But he won games with the Oakland Raiders. His career began in 1970 and ended in 1984. Yet he wasn’t nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame until 2016.
In 1974, he won Super Bowl XI and landed MVP. Two years later, Stabler was leading in TD passes, passing rates, and yards completed. He finished his career with a 75.3 rating.
In 1967, Bob Griese was drafted into the AFL by the Miami Dolphins. He took them to three Super Bowls in as many years, winning Super Bowl VII and VIII. Dominating for three consecutive years, the Dolphins' performance was unprecedented. Miami was undefeated in the 1972 season.
Understandably, Griese was inducted into the Hall of Fame. At the end of the day, he threw fewer than 200 TDs and walked away with a 56.2 completion rate.
Norm Van Brocklin
Norm Van Brocklin was an NFL champion, twice, before they even had the Super Bowl. Van Brocklin played in the AFL for the Rams and the Eagles from 1949 to 1960. He’s a Hall of Famer and known as an all-time great. But from the perspective of modern NFL QBs, Van Brocklin is average.
His completion rate was 54%, and he threw 173 touchdown passes. The number is even more telling in that he threw almost as many interceptions, 178 to be exact. And, with a QB rating of 75.1, he’s no Tom Brady, who, incidentally, rocks a 96.2 rating.
Archie Manning was so overrated coming out of college that he remained highly revered, even after losing nine of ten seasons with the Saints. At Ole Miss, Manning was a prodigy. His teammates couldn’t play at his level. He won MVP for the Southeastern Conference and is yet honored.
At Ole Miss, the speed limit is 18 mph, reflecting his retired number. Manning was picked second overall by the Saints in 1971. He was sacked a whopping 337 times, even though players admitted taking it easy on him, in deference. Bottom line: his starter record is the worst in NFL history.
Jim Plunkett didn’t reach his glory until the last eight seasons of his 16-season career. He delivered two Super Bowl titles to the Oakland Raiders and boasted a stellar post-season record. Plunkett was drafted first overall by the Patriots in the 1971 NFL Draft.
As a Heisman Trophy winner, his career was widely anticipated. But for the first eight years, it flatlined. Plunkett is the only two-time Super Bowl champ who has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Bobby Layne is a Hall of Famer named to the prestigious 1950s All-Decade Team. He is an old-timer loaded with accolades. In today’s market, however, Layne is just another name. He spent his glory days with the Detroit Lions from 1950 to 1958.
When they traded him to the Steelers, Layne was so furious, he predicted a 50-year losing streak in vengeance, and it happened. The Lions were toothless for five decades. Team loyalty meant something then. He was a legend in the ‘50s, but his QB stats pale compared to today’s numbers. Layne’s rating is 63.4.
George Blanda is another ‘50s football legend. He scored more points than any other QB, but he had more time to do it. Blanda retired at age 48 after 26 seasons, a standing NFL record. Back in those days, quarterbacks sometimes filled in as kickers, and Blanda, an outstanding athlete, did that.
In the ‘60s, he threw a 3,000-yard season three times and was a league-leader in attempts and completions. But when we look at his TD to interception ratio, 236 TDs, and 277 interceptions, it’s not very impressive. And his QB rating, 47.7, abysmal.
“Broadway Joe” is one of the NFL’s most celebrated names. The photogenic athlete QB’d for the storied Crimson Tide under legendary Coach Bear. He signed into the league as a superstar. Yet, the Hall of Famer has a QB rating of 57.15. Namath has the second-lowest completion score at 50.1%.
He threw 220 interceptions against 173 touchdowns. He brazenly predicted and then delivered a Super Bowl victory for the Jets (their only championship) over Don Shula’s Colts. He was the face of the NFL, a publicity star, but his celebrity outshined his performance on the field.
Trent Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to the organization’s first Super Bowl victory. In return, the team declined to renew his contract, making him the first championship QB to be released after the win. To be honest, Dilfer clinched that win on the backs of the Ravens defense.
He was highly rated coming out of high school and drafted sixth overall. He has one Pro Bowl to his credit. But the stats say he is overrated. Dilfer launched more interceptions than touchdowns, and his completion rate does not impress at 55%.
Now, he’s recognized as the highest-paid TV broadcaster in the sports stratosphere, but Tony Romo was a hot commodity in Dallas first. He led the Cowboys to the post-season 4 times and nabbed 4 Pro Bowls. He holds the record for passing and touchdowns at the franchise. But he never delivered what matters in football—a Super Bowl win.
To wit, Romo failed even to take the Cowboys to the big one. Romo quarterbacked exclusively for Dallas, all 14 seasons. He basked in the stature of an elite Cowboys QB. He notched a 97.1 passing rating, but where’s the beef?
Jay Cutler has a publicity problem as the frequent recipient of a lot of public dissing. But that’s partly because he crossed the line of scrimmage to media sportscasting on FOX and then returned to the NFL, re-signing with Miami. Cutler has one Pro Bowl (2008) and was named “100 Greatest Bears of All-Time.”
Leading a dynasty team like the Bears is honor enough, but where are his numbers? Cutler clocked in with a QB rate of 62.0 and threw 227 touchdowns compared with 160 interceptions. Meh.
No one noticed Warren Moon until he won the Rose Bowl for Washington and was named MVP. College recruiters paid no attention. Only the University of Washington signed him. Moon went on to be a nine-time Pro Bowler and Pro Bowl MVP in 1997.
He ranked fifth in career passing yards and threw an average of 245 yards per game. As a Hall of Famer, he doesn’t have much to show. He probably deserved to be an NFL great with a fist full of Super Bowl rings, but it didn’t happen.
You don’t have to look much further than John Brodie’s 1965 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award to know he falls squarely into the overrated category. That same year, he made it to the Pro Bowl, and again in 1970.
In 1970, he was also named NFL MVP. So, Brodie posted a couple of solid years. He joined the league in 1957. He led the NFL in passing in 1958 and 1965. If he had held to his record performances, he would have been a legend.
Sure, Joe Montana won the Super Bowl four times and was a three-time NFL MVP (Super Bowl XVI, XIX, and XXIV), but he’s still overrated. No doubt, he is a legendary QB, but let’s dig into his actual numbers. He wasn’t the best QB of all time, as some insist. Dan Marino’s numbers were better.
Montana got lucky pitching for one of the best teams ever. The 49ers roster at the time included Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, Brent Jones, and coach Bill Walsh. Montana was bested by Steve Young, whose completion record and passer rating exceed Joe’s.
Doug Flutie’s career is atypical. He played for three different leagues, hung up his cleats, and returned to the NFL ten years after retiring. As a Heisman Trophy winner and being immortalized in sports history by throwing the “Hail Flutie” touchdown pass in a 1984 college game, this player was highly anticipated.
The results were an average arm with an inaccurate tendency. Returning to the league in 1998 with the Bills, Flutie redeemed himself to a point with a decent run in Buffalo.
Mark Sanchez started with a bang taking the Jets to the playoffs two years in a row. He is the second QB in NFL history to make it to the conference championship in the first two years. Understandably, expectations were high.
But Sanchez, who was drafted out of USC in 2009, floundered by 2012 and then suffered an injury in 2013; he was traded to the Eagles, the Broncos, the Cowboys, the Bears, and then the Redskins and retired in 2018 after just one season with each team.
Nicknamed “the Mad Bomber,” Daryle Lamonica is an old-timer who played for the AFL and the NFL. In 1963, the AFL Bills and the NFL Packers drafted Lamonica, but he went with Buffalo. He hit his peak with Oakland, deifying his rank with Raiders fans. After taking them to the second-ever Super Bowl, he was named AFL MVP.
He won it in 1969 as well. He’s a three-time AFL All-Star and holds the passing record for one season. At the end of the day, however, he has a QB rating of 72.9 and a 49.5% completion rate.
Firstly, who can explain the dearth of black quarterbacks in the NFL? Coming out of Virginia Tech, Michael Vick was the first overall pick by the Falcons in 2001. He holds the record for most rushing yards in NFL history, and he was the first QB ever to rush 1,000 yards in one season.
The fan-favorite Falcon is a four-time Pro Bowler who took the team to the NFC championship in 2004. His 80.5 rating is good but not great. Vick was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2010, returning from a prison sentence for dogfighting.
Sometimes it’s the team. While dynasty teams yield epic QBs, the Jets sap a QB’s potential. Ken O’Brien took the Jets to the playoffs three times, which says a lot considering that the team has just one Super Bowl title, which happened over 50 years ago.
In his 10 years with the club, O’Brien was a two-time Pro Bowler and NFL passing leader in 1985. He has a QB rating of 80.4. Had he been drafted by a winning team, we would have seen an elite QB.
Chad Pennington is another victim of the New York Jets; he was also a victim of injuries. Pennington led the league in completions two times. His accuracy was there but riddled by injuries; he only started 81 games in his career.
In his 11-year career, he was NFL’s all-time leader in passing with 60.0% completions. He was a comeback kid with two Comeback Player of the Year awards, but he should have been an NFL superstar quarterback.
Bart Starr is another old-timer, and he’s a legend. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers fortuitously, and made it to the championships three years in a row (before it was called the Super Bowl). He also took the Packers to the very first Super Bowl and then the second, winning Super Bowl I and II.
Starr is in the Hall of Fame, he’s a five-time champ, Super Bowl MVP, twice, and a four-time Pro Bowler; you get the picture. But what’s this? He has a 57.4 completion rate and a QB rating of 80.5.
Joe Theismann is overrated because his media presence inflated his importance as a player. Even his career-ending injury was sensationalized. Fans called it the “Most Shocking Moment in History,” according to an ESPN poll.
He was successful, no doubt. With back-to-back Super Bowl rings and an MVP, this NFL Man of the Year (1982) filled the spotlight. In the end, he had a 77.4 rating, which is almost decent.
Jerry Stidham is what we might call a preemptively overrated quarterback. The Baylor star was drafted in 2019 by New England. This means he is succeeding NFL legend and Patriots immortal Tom Brady.
Those are some big shoes. Stidham sealed a four-year $3.15 million contract with the Pats. So far, his stat page is practically blank. His passer rating is 29.1, and he has a 1:4 TD to interception tally.
For some reason, quarterbacks who come out of USC tend to be overrated. Carson Palmer fits into this category. As a Heisman Trophy winner, he was chosen first overall in the 2003 Draft by the Bengals. The club sealed the deal with Palmer in great anticipation.
He spent the bulk of his career with the Bengals, and he did deliver some highlights, but injuries and mediocrity plagued his career. In 2005, he led the league in touchdown passes, and he was a three-time Pro Bowler. Yet, his passer rating was 87.9, passable, but not NFL greatness.
Aaron Rodgers is overrated. He was ranked a top-five NFL quarterback, and there are others more deserving. Rodgers was hyped out of college, signing with the dynasty Packers in the first round of the draft. Granted, he has two rings and a Super Bowl MVP. His TD to interception ratio is golden; he led the league four times.
His passer rating is 103.1, and he’s got a 64.8% completion rate, clearly worthy. But he wound up hitting some dry spells, and, frankly, being ranked in the top five of all NFL QBs is a singular honor.
Rich Gannon notched a few highlights, such as going to the Pro Bowl four years in a row and making the All-Pro First-Team two of those years. So, from 1999 to 2002, he secured some serious stats throwing the ball for Oakland. However, he entered the league in 1987. There is nothing to show for almost a decade.
He played for the Vikings, the Redskins, and the Chiefs before hitting his prime with the Raiders. All told, he retired in 2004, finishing with an 84.7 rating.
Jeff Hostetler is another old-school QB who looks really impressive until you compare him to today’s cannons. He brought home two Super Bowl titles (XXI and XXV) for the Giants and chalked a Pro Bowl, but his rating is an 80.5, and he threw 71 interceptions for 94 passes.
Hostetler signed into the league with the Giants in the 1984 NFL Draft. His career is split between the Giants and the Raiders, though he did spend a season with the Redskins before he retired.
Here’s a guy who came out of college a superstar QB. He was drafted first overall by the Patriots powerhouse. Bledsoe was slated to be an elite-level quarterback and an all-time great NFL player. Right off the bat, he was the youngest NFL quarterback in history to throw 10,000 yards.
He has one Super Bowl ring. He was the Patriots' face until his injury, which, incidentally, opened the door for the Pats to sign a brand-new face (yep, Tom Brady). He traded to the Bills, then to the Cowboys, and sort of faded away.
Randall Cunningham racked up some accolades, but the media so hyped him, his actual numbers fizzle. First of all, he does not even have one title under his belt. His QB rating is an 81.5, hitting average in the modern league.
However, he drafted in 1985, picked in the second round by the Eagles. Cunningham hit some heights like leading in passing one year and four Pro Bowls, but overall, his drawback was his inconsistency.
With a name like Brett Favre, it’s almost impossible to live up to it. The QB elite Hall of Famer provided the main arm for the Packers for a decade. A pigskin icon and an epic team. He was "Sports Illustrated" Sportsman of the Year (2007), a three-time MVP, a one-time Super Bowl champ, and an 11-time Pro Bowler.
He disappoints, however, with an 86.0 rating. Also, he threw way too many interceptions, some of which were picked off for key plays. He threw 508 career touchdowns. Sounds good until you realize 336 of his slings were intercepted. Not good.
Daunte Culpepper hit the pros with the Vikings in 1999. He dominated the league in 2004, passing an astounding 5,123 yards. He set the NFL record for a single season. But his career was riddled with an injury, turnovers, and inconsistency.
The season after his record-breaking performance ended with a terrible knee injury. It was a disappointing way to see a promising career conclude.
Johnny Unitas was legendary but not a legend. The Hall of Famer is an old-school arm who finished in stellar standing. He retired with one Super Bowl ring and a laundry list of records and titles. He was NFL MVP three times, for instance, and holds four NFL passing yard records.
He signed with the Colts in 1956 and enjoyed an 18-season career. His nickname was “the Golden Arm,” and he was one of the first QB media darlings. So, what’s his rating? Unitas clocks in at 78.2. He completed a measly 2,830 career yards, and he attempted 5,186.
Philip Rivers is a great quarterback, but he’s not going to the Hall of Fame. Chargers fans, of course, overinflated his greatness after he took the team to the postseason six times. In 2007, he was the first to win a playoff game for San Diego since 1994, and they went all the way to the AFC Championship.
But guess what? No wins. He has no Super Bowl titles, just a string of passing yard records. Rivers is now with the Colts since signing in March 2020.
With a nickname like “Slash,” it’s hard not to be overrated; expectations are high. At the University of Michigan, he had another title, “The Miracle at Michigan,” again, expectations for greatness. With the Steelers, Kordell Stewart is the fourth all-time in rushing with 38 touchdowns.
So clearly, there is something magical about his talent. He retired in 2005, but way back in 1997, he gave up four turnovers in the AFC Championship Game with three interceptions and one fumble, crushing Super Bowl hopes. That’s something Slash can never live down.
Drew Brees was overrated coming out of Purdue, having dazzled at the Big Ten Conference. San Diego picked him first in the draft. Chargers fans always overinflate their QB’s, and, as a franchise, the Bolts tend to lose in the postseason. The Chargers curse was upon Brees. Next, an injury benched him.
He wound up getting transferred to the Saints. Lucky for him. He led the Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl win and racked up some stats. His rating is sharp at 98.6, but he’s thrown a lot of interceptions.
The Chiefs sacrificed a first-round pick to sign Trent Green, and, long story short, he disappointed. Green was originally drafted by San Diego in 1993 and played for 15 seasons. He delivered a Super Bowl to the Rams at Super Bowl XXXIV and was a two-time Pro Bowler.
He threw the longest TD pass, 99 yards. After that, his credits drop off. He has an 86.0 rating, nothing to write home about. In his long career, he completed a paltry 2,266 passes. Mediocrity at best.
Nicknames tend to come before people, and Jake, “The Snake” Plummer, is one. He picked it in deference to Ken “the Snake” Stabler but never got close to Stabler’s greatness. To start, Jake the Snake threw as many TDs as interceptions, matching up at 161.
He made it to the Pro Bowl in 2005, not much else to say. He made it to the College Football Hall of Fame and was a Heisman finalist. In the NFL, he retired, overinflated, with a 74.6 passer rating.
Dak Prescott signed with the Cowboys as a backup quarterback in 2016. Tony Romo’s injury boosted Prescott to the first string. The rookie QB impressed, setting records and getting named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Of course, Dallas fans exalted him.
He deserves kudos with a 97.3 passer rating, which ranks him fourth in NFL history. But now he’s injured with a broken ankle. The Cowboys aren’t willing to spend $37.68 million to renew his contract. He’s way overpriced!
Is it bad luck? Or are some QBs just cursed? Jim Kelly took the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl four times in a row! He had four chances for a ring, and they lost. Every. Single. Time. Getting there, obviously, he racked up some pretty sweet stats. Kelly holds the passing record in 1990, the TD passing leader in 1991, and the NFL completion percentage in 1990.
He has five Pro Bowls, and his No. 12 Bills jersey is retired. However, with zero Super Bowl wins, some would say his NFL Hall of Fame induction is overvalued.
Kerry Collins is a college Hall of Famer and Heisman finalist who played for the NFL for 17 seasons. He was the first player signed by the new Panthers expansion team in 1995. Since then, he bounced around to the Saints, the Giants, the Raiders, the Titans, and the Colts.
He led the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV. There were high expectations for Collins because of his college exploits, but in the end, he completed 55.7% of his passes and has a QB rating of 73.8.
Some players are truly great, but a memorable fail sticks them with the label. Donovan McNabb took the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004 only to throw three interceptions. Those picks quite literally handed the title to the Patriots.
Still, McNabb is a six-time Pro Bowler and an Eagles Hall of Famer with his jersey retired in Philadelphia. In college, his future looked bright as a three-time Big East Offensive Player of the Year and a Big East Offensive Player of the Decade. In the NFL, he passed 37,276 yards and rated at 85.6.
To be considered overrated, QB’s are recognized as astounding players in the first place. Steve McNair played 13 seasons with the Titans after being a top NCAA player and a Heisman finalist. He took the Titans to the Super Bowl in 2000 after taking them to the postseason three other times.
He was a three-time Pro Bowler, an NFL MVP, and he led the league in passing in 2003. His jersey is retired in Tennessee. Tragically, two years after he retired, his life was tragically taken by ex-girlfriend Sahel Kazemi.
Giovanni Carmazzi was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2000 NFL draft. And, although he was picked ahead of Tom Brady, Carmazzi had a very short career in the NFL.
He soon fizzled out after joining the 49ers, or you might say he never even had the chance to fizzle out. For two years, he stayed on the field only for practice but was never put in a game. Without success in the NFL, Carmazzi tried his hand with the World League of American Football and in the Canadian Football League, also without success.
For the 1999 NFL draft, Akili Smith was the third pick for the Cincinnati Bengals. Smith had one impressive year under his belt, which gave coaches hope of him being a tremendous asset to their team, but unfortunately, Smith wasn’t made to last.
Smith didn’t participate in training camp, which greatly hindered any progress he could make. His life off of the field became an even larger hindrance to his fledgling NFL career as he became an excessive partier. In total, he played in 22 games and, in a short four seasons in the NFL, only threw for 5 touchdown passes.
NFL scouts took a big chance when they set their sights on Brandon Weeden. Analysts were highly skeptical of scouts recruiting the NFL hopeful who had played a spread offense in college, but Weeden soon became part of the Cleveland Browns.
In Weeden’s very first game as part of the Browns' roster, he finished with a 5.1 passer rating which was the lowest passer rating for any opening game of the season. Unfortunately, he continued to perform poorly in his next games and was eventually replaced by Jason Campbell.
Given his unimpressive college performance, it’s unclear why Jimmy Clausen was able to have an NFL career. Clausen was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers.
He was highly unprepared for his rookie year and only managed to make 3 touchdowns and 9 interceptions within a span of ten games. After one year of perpetual struggles on the field, Clausen was replaced by Cam Newton. After being passed onto the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens, Clausen left the NFL in 2015.
Paxton Lynch was drafted to the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. Scouts turned a blind eye to some of Lynch’s flaws, but they were hard to ignore when he entered the field in his rookie year.
Maybe Lynch had the potential, but it was speculated that he just did not work hard enough. He was with the Broncos for two years and only started for four games in total. He left the Broncos in early 2019 and, after being unable to retain positions on both the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers teams, Lynch is presently a free agent.
David Carr was the first choice for the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL draft. Carr fumbled the ball 12 times and was sacked 76 times during his rookie year. After a rough start, Carr’s work ethic began to be questioned.
After being sacked a total of 249 times in his five-year career with the Houston Texans, Carr was replaced by Matt Schaub. From there, he was passed along to the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and back again to the New York Giants.
Ryan Leaf was drafted to the (then) San Diego Chargers in 1998. He proved to be quite a handful for the time, throwing five interceptions within two games and supposedly faking a hand injury in order to miss practice.
In his third game of the season, he was even put on the bench and replaced with a backup quarterback. Leaf was not a good fit for the team and reportedly did not get along with both his teammates or the media. His lack of passion and direction in the NFL resulted in a very short career for the young quarterback.
In 1991, Browning Nagle was selected by the New York Jets. What amazes analysts still is that Nagle was selected ahead of the soon-to-be star, Brett Farve. Nagle was on the Jets’ roster for just one season and only started for one game in his entire NFL career.
Nagle was out of the Jets by 1994 and replaced by Boomer Esiason. He then moved onto the Indianapolis Colts and finished his career in 1996 with the Atlanta Falcons. Nagle’s career had to be one of the shortest in NFL history.
Joey Harrington joined the Detroit Lions in 2002. Unfortunately for Harrington, many factors contributed to his lack of success as a quarterback, including his lack of skills on the field.
Though his fourth season with the Lions was his best, throwing 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, Harrington’s performance quickly declined. Reportedly, the team’s management was also struggling at the time, which didn’t contribute anything positive to Harrington’s career. He was eventually replaced by Jeff Garcia and traded to the Miami Dolphins.
There was a lot of expectation surrounding Blain Gabbert when he was drafted to the Jacksonville Cougars in 2011. Gabbert encountered struggles as a rookie on the team and was sacked around 40 times. Gabbert had untapped potential, but it was not seen on the field as many had hoped.
He struggled with numerous injuries in his early years and was eventually traded to the San Francisco 49ers. After 3 seasons with the 49ers, Gabbert then moved on to the Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He did earn his first Super Bowl ring but as the backup quarterback.
In 1994, Heath Shuler was drafted to the Washington Redskins. Shuler started for 18 games but was benched by his third year. He was traded to the New Orleans Saints in 1997 and unfortunately continued to give a lackluster performance on the field.
A foot injury kept Shuler from staying with the Saints for a second season, and he then signed with the Oakland Raiders. But his pivot to the Raiders was cut short after he re-injured his foot and was cut from the team. Shuler then decided to retire from the NFL altogether.
Todd Blackledge was yet another quarterback that fizzled out early on in their career. He was drafted to the Washington Redskins in 1983 and played with them for five seasons. Blackledge may have been picked before players like Dan Marino, but he sadly didn’t live up to the draft hype.
Blackledge did not make a name for himself within the five years he was on the Redskins' team. He moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but only for two seasons as a backup quarterback before he retired from the NFL altogether.
Jamarcus Russell was a quarterback with a lot of potential but poor execution. Praised for the strength of his throw, Russell was drafted to the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Despite being the starting quarterback for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Russell was lacking the work ethic needed to take his rookie career to the level of stardom it could have been.
He was with the Raiders for three seasons before leaving the NFL altogether. Analysts and commentators were disappointed with the talented player who had more potential than he was willing to pursue.
In 2004, J.P. Losman was drafted to the Buffalo Bills. Losman got off to a very challenging start, having broken his leg during training camp. It’s speculated that this injury subsequently affected his career.
Sadly for Losman, his recovery kept him from seeing much time on the field during his rookie year. While he did assist in some victories for the Bills in the following year, he was not consistent enough to be the star quarterback for the team. He was passed along to four other teams before retiring in 2011.
Brady Quinn joined the Cleveland Browns in 2007 after signing a 5-year contract. Though his statistics in college were impressive to scouts, Quinn soon showed that college may have been his better years.
Quinn was frequently benched and, when he was put in the game, often gave an average performance. For three seasons he struggled to jumpstart his career with the Browns and then was traded to the Broncos. While there, however, Quinn remained in the same unimpressive plateau. He tried to grab the attention of a handful of other teams but was never selected. Quinn retired from the NFL in 2015.
Rick Mirer was drafted to the Seattle Seahawks in 1993. Mirer was also a greatly anticipated talent by analysts and scouts but was soon found wanting. He did have some successes during his rookie season, but they paled in comparison to the expectations surrounding him.
Mirer was traded to the Chicago Bears in 1997 and there, only played in seven games. Mirer was passed from team to team, some of which he did not even get to play for. He retired from the NFL in 2004.
Andrew Ware was with the Detroit Lions for four years, having been the number one pick in the 1990 draft. Within that time he played in just 14 games and was then signed to the Oakland Raiders in 1994.
The former Heisman Trophy winner was then transferred to the Jacksonville Jaguars but was cut from the team before the real season began. Frustrated with the American Football scene, Ware then tried his hand with both Canadian and German NFL teams but eventually settled on being a broadcaster.
Another college football star, Matt Leinart was drafted to the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. Leinart had four seasons with the Cardinals as Kurt Warner’s backup before moving onto the Houston Texans in 2010.
As a whole, Leinart’s career was peppered with injuries and below-average performance off the field. Unfortunately, no matter what team he played for, from the Cardinals to the Buffalo Bills, he simply could not create the career that many had imagined he would. Leinart was out of the NFL by 2013.
Johnny Manziel was drafted to the Cleveland Browns in 2014. Manziel yet another recruit that came from an impressive college career, setting hopes high for scouts and football fans alike.
Another Heisman Trophy winner, Manziel unfortunately struggled in his passes and plays. After performance issues both on and off of the field, Manziel was dismissed from the Browns and the NFL in 2015. He then entered the Canadian football league and played on two different teams from 2017 to 2018. Manziel joined the AAF in 2019 but that career as well was cut short.
In 2005, Andrew Walter was drafted to the Oakland Raiders. Walter played in just two pre-season games because of a substantial groin injury, which later led to surgery. In total, he played in 12 games for the Raiders but was still considered only the “third” quarterback of the team.
Walter’s career with the Raiders slowly began to decline even further as he played in fewer games. After four years with the Raiders, Walter was then signed to the New England Patriots in August of 2009 but was released from the team just one month later.
Josh Rosen had a notable college football career that sadly, did not translate into his NFL career. Rosen had a rough rookie year after he was drafted to the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. He was the starter for a number of games but was left without a breakout season.
Rosen did not manage to rise above his peers and was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2019. Once there, he only stayed for one season. He was then signed to the practice squad for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in September of 2020 and then landed with the San Francisco 49ers in December of that same year.