It’s often said that quarterback is the hardest position to play in football, and with the slim chance players get to win and keep the spot in today's NFL, that sentiment has been proven true again and again. We often see first-round quarterbacks fail miserably once given the starting job, as well as players drafted quite low, or even undrafted, making a big impact right off the bat. You've also got guys like Robert Griffin III who start hot but fizzle out due to injuries, attitude, or other reasons (both in RG3's case), and guys like Alex Smith that take a while to develop, but make the wait worth it as late-bloomers.
The game is quite tough as well, and that means there are many injuries, meaning a backup QB is also just as important. Remember how Tom Brady quickly became the best quarterback in the NFL after initially replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe? Still, there are some of those players should just stay backups.
That all said, this list will look at failed starters and those backups who have no place under center on opening day of the 2017 NFL season.
15 Matt Barkley
The Chicago Bears struggled in 2016, and most of that was due to the inconsistencies at quarterback, as they started not one, not two, but three players at the position all season due to injuries. Although Barkley played well, he just wasn’t up to the caliber of other players at the position. Coming out of USC several years ago, the consensus was that Barkley was going to be an elite QB, but he just never lived up to the hype, and has bounced from Philadelphia now to the Bears, and hasn’t shown any signs of being a capable franchise QB. It’s unfortunate that he won’t ever be considered a starting QB, but for a small amount of time in 2016, he got to start in the NFL, because he will be lucky to still be around in a few years.
14 Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick was mostly a career backup, yet somehow managed to snag a job as the Jets starting QB in 2015. He broke passing records for the franchise, and despite backlash from the fans who didn’t want to see him back in 2016, the organization brought him back. After struggling mightily in 2016, he lost his job halfway through the year. The New York Jets have learned their lesson about Fitzpatrick, and after a decade in the NFL, most other teams should be aware by now, and there is no way that he manages to get another starting job in the year 2017. As a backup, he may help a young quarterback through the season, but his days as a potential starting QB are definitely over after his dreadful 2016 season.
13 Case Keenum
When Jared Goff was drafted first overall by the Rams, it seemed that it was inevitable for him to be starting opening day, but after a lackluster pre-season, Case Keenum was given the starting job. It’s safe to say that Keenum isn’t the future for the Los Angeles Rams, and he didn’t do anything during his short stint under center in 2016 to change anyone’s mind, as he is a career backup at best. LA might give Goff another chance as a starter in 2017, but if he continues to struggle and they don’t go out and draft another quarterback, Keenum may get another shot. Still, to say that he could ever start over another viable QB in the NFL just isn’t true anymore.
12 Matt McGloin
A majority of fans looked at the Oakland Raiders and were confident that they would be a top team in the AFC, and half way through the season, it looked like they would be more competition than even the Patriots could handle, but that all came crashing down when star QB Derek Carr was struck by a leg injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the season. Despite their overwhelming talent all over the field, the Raiders couldn’t overcome the loss of their leader and best QB in decades, and they turned to Matt McGloin to see if he could catch lightning in a bottle and get a few playoff wins. That didn’t happen, and McGloin’s weaknesses were exposed, probably preventing him from ever being a starting QB in the NFL.
11 Landry Jones
Coming out of Oklahoma in 2013, it looked like Landry Jones was going to be a fantastic NFL QB after a stellar college career, but he has been relegated to playing Ben Roethlisberger’s backup in his three NFL seasons, and that has garnered him four starts in that time. Unfortunately for Landry, Big Ben is one of the quickest in the NFL to recover from injury, and he is also one of the best in the game, meaning that it’s unlikely he could impress enough to gain a starting role within the Steelers organization. What’s also unfortunate is that Jones hasn’t impressed enough to win a starting role in anyone else’s organization either, as he looks to be yet another fantastic college player who turns into a career backup.
10 Jacoby Brisett
This one is quite an obvious one, as Brissett only started two games in 2016 while Tom Brady was out suspended. He showed some serious potential as a mobile QB, but it was not enough to be considered a starting quarterback for any team in the near future. It’s unlikely that he will ever be a starting quarterback again, but crazier things have happened in the NFL, and after all, Tom Brady, who is arguably the greatest QB of all time, came from nothing to become who he is. He may get lucky and get a chance with another team in the future, but for now, Brisett will be nothing more than a backup signal-caller in the NFL.
9 Colin Kaepernick
For one reason or another, Colin Kaepernick couldn’t stay out of the spotlight in 2016, and with his protest of the national anthem, there were more eyes on him than ever. Additionally, his play just couldn’t return to the same level it had been at in recent years. It's been a rather huge decline for Kap since he took over as the QB for the 49ers, and since the time he led them to the Super Bowl, only to come up short against the Ravens. But as the team has fallen apart, so has the play of their once revolutionary QB. The team haven’t ruled out bringing him back, but it’s likely that he won’t return and he will have to look for a spot on another team. What’s most likely is that it will merely be a backup role, as his skills just aren’t translating to success in the current NFL climate.
8 Matt Moore
After four straight years as their starting QB, Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins finally started to live up to their potential, but an untimely injury struck, and their playoff chances took a major hit. This left veteran backup Matt Moore to take over the team, and although he is quite an adequate backup, he couldn’t take the Dolphins as far as the much more talented Tannehill could. With Tannehill set to return in 2017, it’s unlikely that Moore would win the starting job from him, and as he is quite late into his career, meaning that he likely won’t move teams, meaning that the Dolphins backup job should be set.
7 Jared Goff
Jared Goff was drafted number 1 overall by the Rams in the 2016 draft, and with Carson Wentz having a good rookie year and Dak Prescott having a great one, it seems that such a high pick for Goff was unwarranted, especially when the Rams had to keep him on the bench to start off the season. With the team struggling to keep Los Angeles’ attention after year one, the team may have to quickly move on from him, and with a high pick in the 2017 draft, there are several QBs who would be more suitable to the team. Things aren’t looking good at the moment, but if he has time to develop he may be a starting QB in the league. Still, the Rams need to succeed as soon as possible, and they may need someone better than Goff has been so far.
6 Brian Hoyer
Brian Hoyer has been on many teams throughout his NFL career, and he has had the opportunity to start in Houston and this previous year for the Chicago Bears due to Jay Cutler's injury. Although he had a nice year, we have seen his limitations and no doubt NFL defenses have figured him out by now. Add the fact that the Bears just signed Mike Glennon to be their starting QB, and it now seems that Hoyer won’t be starting again in 2017, unless Glennon suffers an unfortunate injury. As a suitable backup and injury replacement, Hoyer will be a fantastic fit for any team in the NFL, but as far as starting, it is unlikely that he will be in that role in a permanent position for a long time.
5 Tyrod Taylor
The Buffalo Bills have been on the precipice of success in the past number of seasons, but they have always struggled at QB. Though Taylor is a talented player, he has been incredibly inconsistent, and hasn’t been the leader the team has expected. He was expecting to be released by the team in the current offseason, but they brought him back, and with his uneven play over the last few years, they would be wise to take a QB in the upcoming draft. The team will always struggle when matched up in the same division as the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots, but if they can get a new QB who can consistently get their passing game going alongside LeSean McCoy on the ground, this could lead to substantial success.
4 Blake Bortles
Before the 2016 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars looked like they were primed to take the next step into the playoffs with Bortles was their franchise QB, but after new management has taken over, some questions have been raised about Bortles, and the Jaguars may be on the look for a new QB to help this offense grow into a consistent threat. He still has the potential to take a team to the playoffs, but if the Jaguars are serious about their team and think they can make a run at the Super Bowl, then they need a new QB for the 2017 season. Whether they look for a quick run at the Super Bowl through a QB in free agency or they look to jump on someone like DeShaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky in the draft, their best bet is starting someone else in 2017.
3 Robert Griffin III
After the 2012 season where RG3 won the Rookie of the Year, it looked like himself and Andrew Luck would have a Brady/Manning like rivalry throughout their career at the top of the NFL. Luck has had an impressive career so far, but Griffin has dropped considerably to the point where he may not even be an NFL player within 12 months. After several knee injuries, the strength of RG3’s rookie campaign was now called into question, and NFL defenses quickly figured out that he couldn’t be a consistent threat from the pocket. This led to his release from the Redskins after Kirk Cousins, and even Colt McCoy, proved more impressive. Griffin then played four games for the Browns in 2016 before being released, and now his whole career hangs in limbo.
2 Jay Cutler
There have been questions about Cutler’s ability as a leader since he was playing at Vanderbilt, but the Bears have stuck faithfully behind Jay since he moved to the team, and he put up some of the best numbers of his career in 2015. Unfortunately in 2016, those numbers weren’t replicated and he had an injury-riddled season, leaving him to be cut from the team during this past offseason, and leaving his next career path up in the air. There are some obvious suitors like the New York Jets or the Cleveland Browns, but as a starting quarterback, Cutler’s time in the NFL may be done. Whether or not he starts again is unknown at this point, but if a team is looking to excel in 2017, then he won’t be their starting QB.
1 Brock Osweiler
When he was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and learning with the Broncos under Peyton Manning, Osweiller looked like he had a very high ceiling, and when Manning was in the final stretch of his career, Denver were confident that Brock could take over the team. The Broncos couldn’t match the Houston Texans offer for Brock, and he went to the team to be their starting QB on a whopping four-year, $72 million contract. His first year didn’t live up to the hype at all, as he struggled throughout the year, and the team had to be carried by their unbelievable defense. Unfortunately, this may have ruined his career prospects, and he may still succeed in a great system, but for the year 2017, Osweiller should definitely not be starting under center.