Some of these guys are currently tabbed as the starter for their organization while others are competing for a starting spot. Then again, some of the guys who show up on this list are fighting for a bench spot with any team in the NFL. There’s such a divide between the best quarterbacks in the league and the worst. But even among the guys who have been at the top of their game for years, there are a few who have outstayed their welcome in the NFL … and that will become blatantly obvious throughout the course of this season as some of these quarterbacks will suffer relentless criticism for their play that in no way matches what we’ve seen in previous years.
Not all of these guys have sunken into that despair that comes from failing to find a team willing to sign you to a contract. In fact, some of these guys are coming off pretty good seasons in 2016. But age, injury or new team dynamics have shifted the script, and those quarterbacks should no longer be in the NFL. For every quarterback on this list, they’d be much better off if they were to just quit the NFL like Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. Those were both two pretty good quarterbacks who deserve to be in the league more than most of the guys on this list. But getting paid a lot of money to talk on camera about football is possibly less stressful and more stable of an environment than suiting up and lining up behind center.
15 CHAD HENNE
Did you realize Chad Henne was still in the NFL? Neither did we. But Henne is in the same place he has been for the past four seasons … down in Jacksonville comfortably sitting on the bench. Henne has been playing for the Jaguars but hasn’t seen consistent starting time since 2013. For the past two seasons he didn’t even throw a pass. But that might have been a good thing for Jacksonville … hence the reason why Henne should just hang up his jersey now.
When he’s on the field, it’s almost a guarantee that things are not going to go down as planned. For his career he’s thrown 58 touchdown passes, but he’s matched that with an overwhelming 63 interceptions. Except for the 2014 season (when he played in just three games) Henne has never thrown more touchdowns than interceptions. Oh, and he also has an 18-35 record as a starting quarterback.
14 ROBERT GRIFFIN III
It seems like so long ago when we were watching a young rookie take the league by storm. The entire Redskins front office looked like pure genius after securing Robert Griffin III with the second pick in 2012. RGIII led the team to the playoffs, where he unfortunately injured his knee. That injury seemed to be the reason that Griffin has failed in the NFL.
Griffin was so good at the beginning because of his legs. He resembled a lot of what we all loved watching from Michael Vick’s early days. But a string of injuries kept Griffin from the field, and were the reason that he never really got a chance to play in Cleveland. Now, Griffin sits on the market as a free agent. It’d suit him best if he were to call it quits before it becomes embarrassingly obvious that no team is going to sign the star we once knew.
13 COLT MCCOY
Don’t be surprised if you’re starting to notice a trend here. The Browns go through quarterbacks like a sick man goes through tissues. They just pull out a new one then throw the old one away with seemingly little thought. It’s been the trend since the team returned to Cleveland almost two decades ago. They’ve just seemingly wasted away careers … or just picked duds to begin with.
Colt McCoy tends to fit the latter of that last statement. But he’s still found a way to stay active in the NFL, hiding away on the bench in Washington. But that’s largely due to the fact that no one is going to give him a starting shot after seeing what he did in 25 games as a starter. He has a terrible 7-18 record in those games. McCoy would be better off bowing out of the league before he is forced out.
12 BRANDON WEEDEN
It was crazy that the Browns drafted this guy in the first round back in 2012 and it’s even crazier that the 33-year-old quarterback is still finding a way to stay active in the NFL. Although he’s definitely in it for the paycheck, Brandon Weeden should cash out and let someone more capable ride the bench in Houston because if Weeden needs to start again, the Texans better get ready for the top draft pick next year.
Weeden has never proved to be capable of handling a NFL team. He failed in Cleveland and in Dallas, and now rides the bench in Houston. The scary thing is that with Houston drafting a young stud, Weeden is left to imprint his weaknesses on an impressionable rookie.
11 COLIN KAEPERNICK
This is a tough one because if Colin Kaepernick were to quit, it would look like he lost all of his morals. Everything he stood for when he took that knee during the National Anthem would be lost in his departure from the NFL. But then again, quitting could be the best thing for Kaepernick’s image. He could use that enhanced spotlight once again to get his voice heard and sort of catapult that momentum into another movement.
Plus, he was getting nudged out of the league well before he began this sideline protest that brought him into the focus of fans and spectators nationwide. Kaepernick wasn’t going to be the starter and he still found a way to get his voice heard, but that doesn’t mean he deserves another chance starting behind center.
10 JOHNNY MANZIEL
Here we meet another failed Cleveland Browns quarterback experiment. In all reality though, this experiment was doomed from the beginning. Like most of the Browns quarterback experiments since 1999, Johnny Manziel was drafted way too high and began starting way too early. Since 1999, there hasn’t been many teams that have gone through as many quarterbacks as the Cleveland Browns.
After Manziel’s run at the starting position, he flamed out of the NFL quicker than most guys who get the shot to start on Sunday. Unfortunately for Manziel, he never seemed to want to give up his partying college days … and since he’s still showing up in photos and video in a seemingly permanent vacation mode, it seems obvious that he isn’t dedicated to getting back into the NFL. Sure, he may be working out with some college quarterback also trying to make it big, but let’s be honest, Manziel’s time has passed and he’s better off moving on.
9 TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
This is another tough one because Teddy Bridgewater looked like he was going to have a great career in the NFL. But now injuries make retirement look like the most viable option for the young quarterback who is still listed as part of the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, Bridgewater hasn’t thrown a pass in live action since the 2015 season and he’s going to miss an unexpected amount of time this season while he recovers from a dislocated nee and torn ACL.
Bridgewater should brighten up and realize that it’s not worth putting his body through anymore pain. But we see why that’s going to be a tough choice. Bridgewater had just two seasons to prove his worth in the NFL and he did just that in 2015. That year he led the Vikings to an 11-5 record, was selected to the Pro Bowl and finished the regular season with 14 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions. At least he’d leave on a high note.
8 BLAINE GABBERT
Blaine Gabbert has one of the worst winning percentages out of any quarterback who has started on a somewhat regular basis. Gabbert has started 40 games throughout his career but has won just nine of those contests. That is a huge hint at why this quarterback should quit the NFL. But the list of terrible atrocities goes on, and he’s still able to secure a spot on the bench in San Francisco.
Gabbert has completed just 56 percent of his passes, and when he was a consistent starter in Jacksonville that number dropped to 53 percent. He’s thrown 38 touchdowns but has also tossed 37 interceptions and has a career average of a dismal 171 passing yards per game. There’s no shining spot in Gabbert’s history and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change.
7 JOE FLACCO
We’ve had enough of Baltimore struggling behind this below-average veteran quarterback. This 32-year-old quarterback has never been much of a standout in terms of individual production. Joe Flacco has always been the unquestioned starter in Baltimore, but it’s tough to say if that would be the same if he were on another team or if he didn’t lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory years ago. Things would get much better in Baltimore if they would replace Flacco now. Plus, it’d give them a head start over the Steelers, who will be replacing Big Ben within the next few years. Last year, Flacco was forced to throw the ball way more than any other season of his career. He had 672 passing attempts.
Although he managed 4,317 passing yards, he also through nearly as many interceptions as he did touchdowns (20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions). That’s not a good sign for the upcoming season. Throwing that many passes had to have worn on the quarterback and there’s no reason to think his interception ratio will get any better next season.
6 KIRK COUSINS
Here’s another player that will encounter immense struggles next season, which will create a snowballing effect of continuing struggle for the rest of his career. Quitting now would prevent a lot of heartache for Kirk Cousins. By the end of next season, Washington fans will be booing Cousins off the team. Sure, Cousins has shown flashes of greatness over the last two seasons. He even strung together enough solid play last season that he was selected to the Pro Bowl. But he’s nothing more than an average quarterback with a good surrounding cast. Next year, we’ll all watch as Cousins begins to fade away from relevance and his career moves to a bench role.
The Redskins have created this image that they’re surrounding Cousins with a lot of talent. But really, Terrelle Pryor is all he’s got to throw to and Cousins is not a good enough quarterback to make that work. Unfortunately, Cousins will be a career bench player after next season concludes. He had a good, albeit brief run in the NFL.
5 MIKE GLENNON
Quitting now would save Mike Glennon from all the embarrassment that getting scrutinized for always riding the bench is going to bring. Especially after the contract he signed before Chicago went rogue in the draft. Although he might not have had his shot in Chicago, he’s not going to ever get that chance because of the newcomer drafted second overall by Chicago. This three-year deal should have Bears fans fuming, and Glennon should quit before it gets any worse. But fans should be absolutely enraged because of the fact that their team facilitated a three-year $45 million deal for a guy who hopefully won’t be the starter by Week 1. Glennon didn’t deserve this type of contract before the draft, and there’s no way that the team can justify this decision after the draft. The moment they decided to trade up to draft Mitch Trubisky was the moment that this pickup became an absolute disaster.
4 MARK SANCHEZ
Mark Sanchez had a good thing going in Chicago. He was gaining credibility as people praised him for playing a role in Dak Prescott’s success. Now, the only hope he has of maintaining that high is if Prescott completely bottoms out, or Mitch Trubisky miraculously lifts this struggling team to a playoff spot. But don’t bet on either of those happening. Sure, Trubisky could be the next franchise face in Chicago, but it’s not likely that he’ll even start this season.
Sanchez should have followed suit and taken to the media like Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. Especially when looking at how often Sanchez has been scrutinized in the NFL. Playing with the Jets for most of his career has just about tarnished most of Sanchez’s credibility as a player, but then he seemed to gain it all back on the Dallas bench last season. Now, he’s risking it all again to ride the bench. Not a good move.
3 PHILIP RIVERS
Philip Rivers, at this rate, will be struggling to find a starting job by the time he decides to retire from the league. He should save himself all the headaches and the heartache and just quit the NFL on his on terms. All of that pain could be avoided if he threw in the towel before next season. It seems as if Rivers has no chance to get back to the days when he was leading the league in yards thrown or in passing touchdowns. Instead, we should get used to Rivers leading the league in interceptions. In fact, he led the league in that category for two of the last three seasons and last year he completed just 60 percent of his passes. Expect that number to drop even further as he remains in the NFL.
It has always seemed like an uphill battle for Philip Rivers and he’d be much better off quitting rather than sliding further down this dark abyss that his career is heading. Even though Rivers had a good individual season last year and was selected to the Pro Bowl, he had to be fed up with the Chargers five-win record. Making matters worse, the Chargers recorded just four wins the year before. Those are the two worst records Rivers has seen since he began starting for the team back in 2006 (that year they had their best record, 14-2).
2 BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Ben Roethlisberger should quit for his own well being. The unfortunate thing is, more than any other athlete on this list, Roethlisberger seems in extreme danger of that big hit that will affect him for the rest of his life. We’re not talking a football injury, we’re talking about the type of injury that Roethlisberger will feel for the rest of his days. It’s unfortunate, but Roethlisberger has already been beaten up more than most quarterbacks and his style of play leads us to believe that he’ll take some absolutely frightening hits as long as he takes the field.
So this is our plea to Big Ben, please retire before it is too late. You’ve got the two Super Bowls and the five Pro Bowl selections, so we ask, what’s left to achieve. At 35 years old you’re surely not going to be leading the league in any statistical categories and being on the Steelers naturally means you’re in for a rough road ahead. If you do make it to Week 1, don’t be surprised if you’re sidelined for a good chunk of the year after your first big hit.
1 TOM BRADY
Ever heard of finishing at the top? Well, that’s exactly what Tom Brady should do. He’s just made the biggest push in terms of garnering support in the greatest-of-all-time conversation after securing his fifth Super Bowl ring in a movie-like scenario. No one predicted that Tom Brady was going to still look like the best as he was entering the Super Bowl at age 39, but Brady shocked and awed once again.
Now’s the perfect time to hang his jersey up. What’s the upside in returning? Sure, Brady is likely one of the most competitive people on the planet, so he’s not going away quietly. But if he were to take a step back and look at the possibilities of continuing to play into his 40s, he’d be much more accepting of the idea of quitting the NFL. Best case scenario is that he stays healthy and wins another Super Bowl (well, not much more can be added to his legacy). More likely scenario – he fails to return to the Super Bowl and his body fails to keep up with his mind and we see this God-like player turn into someone everyone wants to see benched.