Journeyman quarterback

J. T. O'Sullivan spent time with thirteen professional teams during his career.

A journeyman quarterback in American football (typically NFL), is a quarterback who plays for several teams over a career. Such a player is typically signed to year-by-year contracts, and may be signed by a team to fill in for an injured starter. The term journeyman is normally pejorative.

The paradigm of a journeyman quarterback might be J. T. O'Sullivan, who spent time with 11 NFL teams (plus the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Frankfurt Galaxy) during his career. Josh Johnson also spent time with 12 different NFL teams, the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League, and the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football. Chris Chandler started for seven different NFL franchises during his career. He also started for the Los Angeles Rams and St. Louis Rams ten years apart. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is still playing, has also started for eight different NFL franchises.

The journeyman quarterback term is descriptive rather than definitive. Dave Krieg enjoyed a stable 11-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, before leaving through Plan B free agency, and then played for five different teams (usually as a starter) over the remaining seven years of his career. But because the years of transition occurred during the later part of his career, Krieg is not generally perceived as a classic journeyman quarterback. Similarly, Mark Rypien, who played for seven years with the Washington Redskins (including a Super Bowl MVP performance in Super Bowl XXVI) before playing for seven different teams for a single season each over the remainder of his career, is not normally regarded as a journeyman for that reason.

StereotypeEdit

Many journeymen quarterbacks are seen as having mediocre talent, or having just enough talent to be the team's backup. True journeymen quarterbacks play for several teams in a career, and may go several years between starting jobs. However a number of journeyman quarterbacks clearly have talent, including some who started Super Bowls, received Pro Bowl selections, were drafted no. 1 overall in the NFL draft, and/or who went on to amass significant career statistics.

Notable examplesEdit

There have been countless examples of journeymen quarterbacks in the NFL, but the following players are especially famous for their sporadic careers. Despite the caricature of the journeyman quarterback, they include players who finished their careers ranked in the top 20 of many key statistical categories, received Pro Bowl selections, and even All-Pro selections and an MVP award (Rich Gannon). They also include Super Bowl finalists and winners; for instance Super Bowl XXXV was contested between two journeyman quarterbacks (Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins), and arguably so was Super Bowl XXXVII (Brad Johnson and Rich Gannon).[1]


Notable journeyman quarterbacks
Name Teams Notes
Team Years
Steve Beuerlein Los Angeles Raiders 1987–1990 No. 1 overall pick in 1995 NFL Expansion Draft.
Backup quarterback in Super Bowl XXVII victory
Led NFL in passing yards in 1999
One Pro Bowl
Dallas Cowboys 1991–1992
Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1993–1994
Jacksonville Jaguars 1995
Carolina Panthers 1996–2000
Denver Broncos 2001–2003
Jeff Blake New York Jets 1992–1993 One Pro Bowl (1995)
Cincinnati Bengals 1994–1999
New Orleans Saints 2000–2001
Baltimore Ravens 2002
Arizona Cardinals 2003
Philadelphia Eagles 2004
Chicago Bears 2005
Chris Chandler Indianapolis Colts 1988–1989 One Super Bowl appearance
Two Pro Bowls
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1990–1991
Phoenix Cardinals 1991–1993
Los Angeles Rams 1994
Houston Oilers 1995–1996
Atlanta Falcons 1997–2001
Chicago Bears 2002–2003
St. Louis Rams 2004
Kerry Collins Carolina Panthers 1995–1998 One Super Bowl appearance.
Two Pro Bowls.
Top 15 in NFL career passing yards and career completions.
New Orleans Saints 1998
New York Giants 1999–2003
Oakland Raiders 2004–2005
Tennessee Titans 2006–2010
Indianapolis Colts 2011
Steve DeBerg San Francisco 49ers 1977–1980 Top 25 in NFL career passing yards and career completions.
Denver Broncos 1981–1983
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1984–1987
Kansas City Chiefs 1988–1991
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1992–1993
Miami Dolphins 1993
Atlanta Falcons 1998
Ty Detmer Green Bay Packers 1992–1995 Former Heisman Trophy winner.
Philadelphia Eagles 1996–1997
San Francisco 49ers 1998
Cleveland Browns 1999–2000
Detroit Lions 2001–2003
Atlanta Falcons 2004–2005
Trent Dilfer Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1994–1999 Winning quarterback in Super Bowl XXXV
One Pro Bowl.
Baltimore Ravens 2000
Seattle Seahawks 2001–2004
Cleveland Browns 2005
San Francisco 49ers 2006–2007
Ryan Fitzpatrick St. Louis Rams 2005–2006 Became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 400 yards or more in 3 straight games
Cincinnati Bengals 2007–2008
Buffalo Bills 2009–2012
Tennessee Titans 2013
Houston Texans 2014
New York Jets 2015–2016
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017–2018
Miami Dolphins 2019–present
Jeff Garcia Calgary Stampeders 1994–1998 Four Pro Bowls
One Grey Cup
Led NFC in passing yards during 2000 season
San Francisco 49ers 1999–2003
Cleveland Browns 2004
Detroit Lions 2005
Philadelphia Eagles 2006, 2009
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2007–2008
Houston Texans 2011
Jeff George Indianapolis Colts 1990–1993 No. 1 overall pick in 1990 NFL Draft.
Atlanta Falcons 1994–1996
Oakland Raiders 1997–1998, 2006*
Minnesota Vikings 1999
Washington Redskins 2000–2001
Seattle Seahawks 2002*
Chicago Bears 2004*
Kevin Glenn Saskatchewan Roughriders 2001–2003 Only player to have had his rights held by every CFL team
6th most passing yards in CFL History
3rd most CFL games dressed as QB
2007 CFL East All-Star
Toronto Argonauts 2004
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2004–2008
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 2009–2011
Calgary Stampeders 2012–2013
Ottawa Redblacks 2014
BC Lions 2014
Saskatchewan Roughriders 2015
Montreal Alouettes 2015–2016
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2016
Saskatchewan Roughriders 2017
Edmonton Eskimos 2018–present
Brian Hoyer New England Patriots 2009–2011 Backup quarterback in Super Bowl LIII victory.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2012
Arizona Cardinals 2012
Cleveland Browns 2013–2014
Houston Texans 2015
Chicago Bears 2016
San Francisco 49ers 2017
New England Patriots 2017–2019
Indianapolis Colts 2019–present
Brad Johnson Minnesota Vikings 1992–1998 Winning quarterback in Super Bowl XXXVII
Two Pro Bowls
London Monarchs 1995
Washington Redskins 1999–2000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2001–2004
Minnesota Vikings 2005–2006
Dallas Cowboys 2007–2008
Josh Johnson[2] Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2008–2011
San Francisco 49ers 2012*
Sacramento Mountain Lions 2012
Cleveland Browns 2012
Cincinnati Bengals 2013
San Francisco 49ers 2014
Cincinnati Bengals 2015*
New York Jets 2015*
Indianapolis Colts 2015
Buffalo Bills 2015
Baltimore Ravens 2016*
New York Giants 2016
Houston Texans 2017
Oakland Raiders 2018*
San Diego Fleet 2018
Washington Redskins 2018
Detroit Lions 2019
Josh McCown Arizona Cardinals 2002–2005
Detroit Lions 2006
Oakland Raiders 2007
Miami Dolphins 2008*
Carolina Panthers 2008–2009
Hartford Colonials 2010
San Francisco 49ers 2011*
Chicago Bears 2011–2013
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2014
Cleveland Browns 2015–2016
New York Jets 2017–2018
Philadelphia Eagles 2019–present
Jim McMahon Chicago Bears 1982–1988 Winning quarterback in Super Bowl XX
Backup quarterback in Super Bowl XXXI victory
One Pro Bowl
San Diego Chargers 1989
Philadelphia Eagles 1990–1992
Minnesota Vikings 1993
Arizona Cardinals 1994
Cleveland Browns 1995
Green Bay Packers 1995–1996
Kyle Orton Chicago Bears 2005–2008
Denver Broncos 2009–2011
Kansas City Chiefs 2011
Dallas Cowboys 2012–2013
Buffalo Bills 2014
J. T. O'Sullivan New Orleans Saints 2002–2004
Frankfurt Galaxy 2004
Green Bay Packers 2004
Chicago Bears 2005*
Minnesota Vikings 2005
New England Patriots 2006*
Carolina Panthers 2006*
Chicago Bears 2007*
Frankfurt Galaxy 2007
Detroit Lions 2007
San Francisco 49ers 2008
Cincinnati Bengals 2009
San Diego Chargers 2010
Oakland Raiders 2010
Saskatchewan Roughriders 2012
Vinny Testaverde Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1987–1992 No. 1 overall pick in 1987 NFL draft.
Top 15 in NFL career passing yards and career completions.
Former Heisman Trophy winner
Two Pro Bowls
Cleveland Browns 1993–1995
Baltimore Ravens 1996–1997
New York Jets 1998–2003, 2005
Dallas Cowboys 2004
New England Patriots 2006
Carolina Panthers 2007

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ See in particular statistical summaries below for Vinny Testaverde, Kerry Collins and Steve DeBerg.
  2. ^ "Have arm, will travel: Life of NFL journeymen quarterbacks". USA Today. Associated Press. November 20, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2018.