Quarterback is the highest-paid position in the NFL for a reason. Without a good leader guiding the offense, a team stands little chance of a Super Bowl run, let alone putting together a winning season.
Players like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers represent the gold standard at the position in today’s NFL, while Tom Brady is in a league of his own, with a record seven Super Bowl titles earned with two different franchises.
As the quarterback goes, so does the team, but the man behind center was not always this crucial to his offense in the past.
Although the forward pass first became legal in 1906, NFL offenses mainly relied on the run until around the 1980s.
In 1984, Dan Marino became the first NFL quarterback to surpass 5,000 passing yards in a season. Since 2008, 11 more players have matched that feat, and nearly half of all starting NFL quarterbacks last season threw for at least 4,000 yards.
In the pass-happy era of the NFL, the quarterback is undoubtedly the most valuable part of the offense, so it should come as no surprise that signal callers have earned more Most Valuable Player awards than any other position.
AP NFL Most Valuable Player Award winners by position
Since 2001, a quarterback has claimed NFL MVP every year but 2005, 2006, and 2012. As for Super Bowl MVP, wide receiver and linebacker have won a total of three times over the past decade, while a quarterback has taken home the honor on every other occasion.
Super Bowl MVP winners by position
With so much talent at the quarterback position, debate is constantly brewing over which QB is best.
Up-and-comers like Kyler Murray and Josh Allen have seen their star power rise recently, but future Hall of Famers, like Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and recently retired Drew Brees still dominate the conversation.
In TwinSpires Sports' new quarterback series, we take a look at each of these players and delve into the excellence they have brought to their respective franchises.
From Brady to Mahomes, Rodgers, and Russell Wilson, we break down each quarterback's individual record against every NFL team, while exploring some of their most significant career milestones.
All players are listed alphabetically.
One of the NFL's rising stars, Josh Allen ranked fourth in the NFL in completion percentage (69.2%) and passer rating (107.2), and was fifth in passing yards (4,544) and touchdown passes (37) in 2020.
Tom Brady cemented his status as the NFL's undisputed GOAT last season by winning his record seventh Super Bowl title and picking up his fifth Super Bowl MVP award. Not bad for a 43-year-old.
During his 20-year career in the NFL, future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees earned a win against every franchise in the league, including the New Orleans Saints.
Kirk Cousins isn't considered a top-tier quarterback by most, but the Minnesota Vikings signal caller has carved out a respectable career during his nine-year tenure in the NFL.
Only the second player to receive the NFL MVP award by unanimous vote, Jackson has helped revolutionize NFL offense and shifted the perception of the mobile quarterback.
The 2018 NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes is the first player to throw for over 3,000 yards in his first 10 games, and is the fastest player to accumulate 4,000 passing yards and at least 40 touchdown passes.
The 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick enjoyed the best season of his young career in 2020, and guided Cleveland to an 11-5 record and its first playoff win in 26 years.
Kyler Murray saw a tremendous leap in production in 2020 with the addition of standout wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Dak Prescott has led the Cowboys to the postseason twice and ranked in the top five in passing yards and touchdown passes in 2019 — a year before he went down with a season-ending ankle injury.
Aaron Rodgers won NFL MVP honors for the third time in his career in 2020, after leading the league with 48 touchdown passes, and a dazzling 121.5 rating.
A two-time Super Bowl champion, Ben Roethlisberger holds franchise records for passing yards (60,348), touchdowns (396).
A four-time Pro Bowler and the 2016 NFL MVP, Matt Ryan owns the record for most passing yards (51,186) by a quarterback through 12 seasons.
Despite a 74-90-1 record as the Lions starter, Matthew Stafford enjoyed considerable individual success in Detroit, which made him a promising prospect for the Rams.
The 2019 AP Comeback Player of the Year, Titans QB Ryan Tannehill has overcome multiple obstacles throughout his career to become one of the best signal callers in the NFL.
Deshaun Watson led the NFL in passing yards (4,823), and ranked second in passer rating (112.4) and third in completion percentage (70.2%) in 2020, despite playing without his former No. 1 target, DeAndre Hopkins.
Since Russell Wilson became Seattle's starter as a rookie in 2012, the eight-time Pro Bowler has reached the postseason every year but one (2017), appeared in the Super Bowl twice, and won one title in 2014.