Becoming an NFL quarterback is one of the toughest goals you can set for yourself in all of sports. First off, it’s one of the most demanding positions in all of sports. Even if you are blessed with the ability to properly throw a football (a rare gift), you have to be able to master your playbook as well as the opposing defense’s. Then, you have to manage to become the leader of your team as well as the face of the franchise. More often than not, they will live and die by your success. Manage to do all of that, and you still have to outperform some truly impressive competitors just to even get on the radar of an NFL franchise. What we’re saying is that no QB makes it to the NFL by mistake.
Still, it’s not uncommon for teams to go through a lot of quarterbacks. Making it to the NFL as a QB is tough, but managing to stay relevant and competitive as a starter is another matter entirely. Even the best prospects can prove to be busts or succumb to injury. It’s why most teams in the NFL actually go through quite a few quarterbacks over a period of years. Even if they have found “their guy,” weird things can happen. In fact, a quick look at any team’s history of QBs reveals more than a few names that all but the most hardcore of fans have probably forgotten all about. This is every NFL team's most random QB fans completely forgot about
32 Arizona Cardinals - Brian Hoyer
There’s no shortage of forgettable Cardinals’ quarterbacks, but our nod has to go to Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was part of the miserable 2012 season that saw Arizona start four quarterbacks throughout the course of the season (John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, and Brian Hoyer).
Hoyer only started one game that year, didn’t play especially well, and was released the next year.
He then went on to join the Browns where Hoyer arguably had his most notable NFL tenure.
31 Atlanta Falcons - Chris Redman
Considering that Redman actually started a few games, he’s maybe not the most obscure player on this list. However, Matt Ryan has only not started in two games during his NFL career, and he was replaced in those games by the “legend” Redman. Redman actually had a couple decent games with the Falcons, but he’s also one of the few quarterbacks to ever post a zero QB rating for a game. Remarkably, the Falcons decided to re-sign him after that performance.
30 Baltimore Ravens - Troy Smith
It’s not often that you get to call a Heisman winner “forgotten,” but that’s exactly what Troy Smith is. The Ravens weren’t exactly planning on turning Smith into their franchise QB, but circumstances forced Baltimore to name him the starter. Smith was an utter disaster during his brief time as a starter. Fortunately, Baltimore drafted Joe Flacco soon thereafter. They tried to use Smith as a wide receiver in certain packages, but he proved to be an all-around bust.
29 Buffalo Bills - Matt Cassel
We wouldn’t call Matt Cassel a completely forgotten QB, but his time with the Bills was certainly random.
After Kansas City’s Cassel experiment failed, the Vikings decided to take a chance on him.
Cassel did well enough when he started, but an injury ended his Vikings career. However, before he went on to play poorly for Dallas, he spent a season in Buffalo where he was technically the starter for one game by virtue of opening a game in the wildcat formation.
28 Carolina Panthers - Brian St. Pierre
We love the story of Brian St. Pierre. As a fifth-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, nobody really expected St. Pierre to become a star. He didn’t become a star, but he did manage to stick around the league for seven NFL seasons. Then, in 2010, the Carolina Panthers named him their starting QB for a single game despite the fact that he had only completed two NFL passes in seven years. He didn’t play well and retired the following year.
27 Chicago Bears - Moses Moreno
Who? Exactly. Moses Moreno was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1998 with the team’s final pick of the draft. He didn’t exactly do well. He only started one game in 1999. That’s not incredibly unusual so far as late picks go, but what is unusual is that Moreno wasn’t able to separate himself from other obscure Bears QBs of the era like Erik Kramer, Shane Matthews, and Steve Stenstrom. Such as it is, Moreno will forever remain an obscure piece of Bears trivia.
26 Cincinnati Bengals - Akili Smith
If you remember Akili Smith at all, it’s because of the circumstances surrounding his first round draft. Not only did the Bengals pass on guys like Edgerrin James, Torry Holt, Champ Bailey, and Daunte Culpepper to get Smith, but they even turned down an absurd offer from the Saints that would have netted them nine draft picks.
Unfortunately for Bengals fans everywhere, Smith turned out to be a proper bust.
He never played a full NFL season, he never passed for over 2,000 yards in a season, and he never threw more touchdowns than interceptions.
25 Cleveland Browns - Connor Shaw
We don’t even know where to start on forgotten Browns quarterbacks, so we’re going to settle on Connor Shaw. Shaw went undrafted, but was eventually signed by the Browns in 2014. His big chance came in December of that year when injuries to Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer thrust Shaw into the spotlight. He was thoroughly unimpressive in his one start. It was the first and only time that Shaw played an NFL game. Unsurprisingly, no other team took a look at him.
24 Dallas Cowboys - Ryan Leaf
Yes, most people know the name Ryan Leaf, but many forget that he did actually play some games after his San Diego meltdown. In fact, Leaf’s final stint in the NFL came when perennial Cowboys underachiever Quincy Carter went down. The Cowboys turned to the recently signed Leaf to start, and Leaf proved to be as disappointing as ever. It’s easy to forget that Leaf is part of the Cowboys QB legacy. Dallas and Leaf probably prefer it that way.
23 Denver Broncos - Chris Simms
Few people expected Chris Simms to be an undisputed NFL star, but hopes were high he might be a starter. Tampa Bay tried to make the Simms experiment work, but it never really did.
Simms eventually found his way to Denver where he actually got to play in some games Kyle Orton got hurt.
Impressively, Simms managed to complete only five passes in three games. He was out of the NFL not long after. He wasn't exactly his father Phil.
22 Detroit Lions - Daunte Culpepper
Okay, there are probably more obscure Lions quarterbacks, but it’s remarkably easy to forget that Daunte Culpepper played for the Lions. Actually, Culpepper played a big part in the infamous 2008 season in which the Lions failed to win a single game.
He was supposed to be the team’s starter for 2009, but the Lions decided to give the job to Matthew Stafford. It was Culpepper’s last hurrah in the NFL, after failed stints in Miami, Oakland and Detroit.
21 Green Bay Packers - Seneca Wallace
Seneca Wallace was a weird NFL player. Pretty much every team that looked at him wanted him to move from quarterback to wide receiver. However, Wallace really wanted to play quarterback in the NFL.
He bounced between the positions during his NFL career, but he eventually wound up in Green Bay during the Aaron Rodgers era.
When he finally got a chance to take over for an injured Aaron Rodgers, he tore his groin on the opening drive of his last NFL start.
20 Houston Texans - Matt Leinart
As the NFL’s youngest franchise, the QB history of the Texans is actually fairly well-known, mostly because of its long list of failures. However, how many people remember that Matt Leinart actually got the chance to start a game for the Houston Texans? That chance came during Week 12 of the 2011 season when Leinart stepped in for an injured Matt Schaub. In true Leinart fashion, he fractured his collarbone during the first half of the game. It proved to be his final NFL start.
19 Indianapolis Colts - Josh Freeman
Despite showcasing flashes of brilliance, it’s safe to say that the Josh Freeman experiment didn’t really work out for Tampa Bay. While Freeman’s name will forever be associated with the Buccaneers - he still holds some franchise records - the end of Freeman’s time in Tampa Bay wasn’t the end of his NFL career. In fact, he started a game for the Colts in 2015 and actually managed to contribute to a win. He was released the following season and has since retired from football.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars - Todd Bouman
The story of Todd Bouman and the Jacksonville Jaguars is too good to ignore. Bouman first signed with the Jaguars in 2007 as a backup to Quinn Gray (who was starting in place of David Garrard).
He was then let go but re-signed in 2008. He was cut that same year, but he resigned in 2009.
He was then cut again but resigned once more in 2010 following an injury to Luke McCown. Incredibly, Bouman was then cut and resigned one more time with the Jags in 2011. That’s six separate signings with the Jaguars.
17 Kansas City Chiefs - Warren Moon
Nobody can deny Warren Moon’s talent, but when you think of Moon, you probably think of his time in Houston or maybe his late Pro Bowl years with Minnesota and Seattle. What you likely don’t think of are his final two years with Kansas City in the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Moon was about 43 by the time he signed with KC, so he was as veteran as veteran backups get. He only got to start one game in KC before finally retiring.
16 Los Angeles Chargers - Johnny Unitas
Again, you’ve probably heard of Johnny Unitas, but most people don’t know that he spent the last year of his Hall of Fame career in San Diego. The few games Unitas played in for the Chargers made it clear that he was many years past his prime. It was a quick and forgettable end for a man who was arguably the face of the NFL for a good number of years with the Colts. There’s a reason you probably don’t remember it.
15 Los Angeles Rams - Scott Covington
In a perfect world, Scott Covington wouldn’t have started an NFL game. He was a perennial back-up who spent his first few years sitting on the bench for the Bengals while some pretty unimpressive quarterbacks got to start.
He eventually went to the Rams where injuries to Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner gave him the chance to finally play a game.
He was quickly replaced by Jamie Martin due to his incredibly poor performance. Fortunately, it was only one game.
14 Miami Dolphins - Cleo Lemon
The legend of Cleo Lemon just goes to show you how much the Dolphins have struggled to find Dan Marino’s replacement after all these years. A series of circumstances led to Lemon getting an unusual amount of playing time in 2006 and 2007, mostly due to season-ending injuries to the team's starters. He was without a doubt one of the most forgettable and average quarterbacks to play the game. The fact that the Dolphins couldn’t find anyone more capable than Lemon to lead their team remains pretty telling.
13 Minnesota Vikings - John David Booty
Ah, John David Booty. There was a time when Booty was considered to be a Heisman front-runner and top NFL prospect. However, his decision to stay at USC an extra year (a year in which he sustained an injury and generally played poorly) really hurt his draft stock.
Booty told the world he wanted to be drafted by the Vikings, and he got his wish in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Sadly, he was out of the league just a couple years later.
12 New England Patriots - Jacoby Brissett
While many of Tom Brady’s backups garner some attention, Jacoby Brissett remains a somewhat obscure piece of New England trivia. He was drafted by New England in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but he wasn’t expected to see much playing time. That is until Jimmy Garoppolo went down while filling in for Brady during the “Deflategate” suspension. Brissett then stepped-in and managed to play surprisingly well in two starts. However, he was soon traded to the Colts.
11 New Orleans Saints - Jake Delhomme
No, Jake Delhomme isn’t an obscure QB, but who here remembers that he played for the Saints? In fact, Delhomme spent four years in New Orleans. He even managed to piece together an incredibly impressive win against the Dallas Cowboys.
Eventually, though, Delhomme realized that Aaron Brooks was locked-in as the Saints’ starter. He eventually left, signed with Carolina, and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance during his first year as a starter. He would be a mainstay in Carolina until the late 2000s.
10 New York Giants - Kerry Collins
Eli Manning has been the Giants' starter for so long, it's easy to forget what came in between Eli and Phil Simms.
Kerry Collins had some good years in New York and even led the Giants to a Super Bowl appearance where they were promptly blown out by the Baltimore Ravens.
From there, Collins's performance dipped to the point where the Giants knew they needed to upgrade. After a failed experiment with Kurt Warner, they drafted Eli Manning, who's been New York's starter for close to 15 years.
9 New York Jets - Quincy Carter
Oh, Quincy Carter. No Cowboys fan will ever forget the name of Quincy Carter. Carter was one of those quarterbacks who was often just good enough (and occasionally more than that) to keep his place on the roster. However, his personal problems brought him to a point where it became clear he wasn’t going to be the guy. After leaving the Cowboys, he signed a one-year contract with the Jets. He actually played pretty well but decided to leave and attend rehab.
8 Oakland Raiders - Andrew Walter
Finding an obscure - but notable - Raiders QB is surprisingly tricky, but we give the not to Andrew Walter. The Raiders selected Walter in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Walter actually shared some starting time with Aaron Brooks during his rookie season, but the Raiders ultimately leaned towards Brooks. Then, Walter had to serve as JaMarcus Russell’s backup. What’s funny is that Walter was arguably more capable as a starter than the players he backed up.
7 Philadelphia Eagles - Koy Detmer
It’s actually kind of odd that Koy Detmer’s name probably isn’t remembered by many Eagles fans when you consider that he spent most of his career with the team and was part of the squad during some of their better recent years.
Detmer was drafted in 1997, but the Eagles only ever really saw him as a backup.
He managed to start eight games with the Eagles over a seven-year career but is best remembered for his skills as a place-kick holder.
6 Pittsburgh Steelers - Byron Leftwich
The (mostly) proud history of Steelers quarterbacks means that you’ve got to dig a little deeper to find obscure players. However, we’re willing to bet that most have forgotten about Leftwich’s stint with the team. Following his exile from Jacksonville, Leftwich bounced around the league before ending up in Pittsburgh as Big Ben's backup.
Leftwich started just one game in two seasons with the team, but he was a part of the roster that lost Super Bowl XLV to Green Bay.
5 San Francisco 49ers - Jim Druckenmiller
The 49ers recognized that they needed to find Steve Young’s replacement by the time that the 1997 draft rolled around. The team decided that young Jim Druckenmiller was just the man for the job. That was the highlight of Druckenmiller’s career. The rest of his time as a football player was lowlighted by poor play, a rape charge that many felt he was guilty of, and a brief stint in the dreaded XFL. He eventually quit football to work in sales.
4 Seattle Seahawks - Charlie Frye
Charlie Frye is another one of those names who might ring a bell, but do you remember that he played for the Seattle Seahawks.
Frye was part of that Cleveland Brown quarterback rotation that included Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.
Eventually, the team traded Frye to Seattle for a sixth-round draft pick. Despite being a third-string quarterback, Frye actually managed to start a game during the Seahawks' 2008 season. He left the team the following year.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Johnson
The reason that Josh Johnson ranks above other forgettable Tampa Bay quarterbacks is that he maybe shouldn’t be as forgettable as he is. Johnson came to Tampa Bay during the Josh Freeman era, and he was generally seen as Freeman’s backup (at best). However, in the few times that Johnson got to lead the team, he actually looked decent considering the team he had to work with. Johnson was out of Tampa Bay after a few years and bounced around the league for quite a while afterward.
2 Tennessee Titans - Rusty Smith
Aside from having the most blue collar name for a football player ever, Rusty Smith isn’t really that memorable. The Titans picked up Smith during the 2010 NFL Draft. The plan was for him to serve as the backup to Vince Young. However, Smith was thrust into a starting position when it was revealed that Young hurt his hand and needed surgery. He played poorly and was off the team and out of the league by the time that 2013 rolled around.
1 Washington Redskins - Danny Wuerffel
Danny Wuerffel’s career is an odd one. Despite winning the Heisman and being one of the best quarterbacks in the nation for two years in a row, nobody was really all that excited to draft him. The Saints spent a fourth-round pick on Wuerffel, but he only played there for a few seasons. A series of circumstances saw him land in Washington and play for his old college coach, Steve Spurrier. He started a few games for the Redskins, but nobody signed him the next year.