Nine of the ten QBs who appeared in last season’s edition of the NFL’s oldest starting quarterbacks make an appearance this season as well, with the class of 2004 that includes Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers moving up the chart, while Alex Smith makes his debut.
10. Alex Smith (May 7, 1984)
Alex Smith is entering his 5th straight season as the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he’s been 41-20 as a starter, making the postseason three times. Smith was the #1 pick in the 2005 draft, and since then has seen plenty of ups and downs. Last season he completed 67.1% of his passes, his best completion rating since joining the Chiefs.
9. Aaron Rodgers (December 2, 1983)
Another 2005 draft pick, Rodgers will be starting season number 13 with the Green Bay Packers in 2017. So far, he’s led them to the Super Bowl once, resulting in a big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s also won the MVP twice, along with two All-Pro selections, the last in 2014.
8. Jay Cutler (April 29, 1983)
Jay Cutler was about to begin his post-NFL career in a studio, but then Ryan Tannehill got injured, and he suddenly became a starting quarterback again. Right now, it seems the Dolphins are high on his performances, but he was bad last season in five appearances, posting a 78.1 passer rating while throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. It’ll be Cutler’s 12th NFL season, previously playing for the Broncos and Bears.
7. Ben Roethlisberger (May 2, 1982)
A two-time Super Bowl champion with the Steelers, Roethlisberger is the youngest among the “big three QBs” of the 2004 draft. He’s been with the Steelers for 13 seasons, but hasn’t played all 16 games in each of the last two seasons, and just twice in the last 8 seasons, which is always something for Pittsburgh to be concerned about.
6. Philip Rivers (December 8, 1981)
By the time this season is over, Rivers will be 36. He is starting his 14th season for the Chargers, a first in Los Angeles. Since becoming a starter for the Chargers in 2006, he hasn’t missed a single game, making it 176 consecutive starts, more than any active player besides Eli Manning.
5. Eli Manning (January 3, 1981)
The next time Manning takes the field for the Giants, it’ll be his 200th consecutive start in the NFL, the third longest streak among quarterbacks (his brother Peyton is next with 210, Brett Favre is the benchmark with 297). Manning, the 1st overall pick in the 2004 draft, is heading into his 14th NFL season with the Giants, with two Super Bowl wins and MVPs in the rearview mirror.
4. Carson Palmer (December 27, 1979)
Palmer will be 38 by late December, and he showed significant slowing down signs last season. Overall, the former #1 pick has 13 NFL seasons he’s played in to go with 3 Pro Bowl selections but only 4 playoff career games.
3. Josh McCown (July 4, 1979)
If there’s anyone on this list who isn’t taking his starting job for granted, it’s McCown. The 38 year old has been in the NFL since 2002, but has only made 82 appearances in 15 seasons, 60 of them starts. He rarely begins a season as the #1 choice, and has gotten what might be his last shot at lasting a year at the QB1 position with the New York Jets.
2. Drew Brees (January 15, 1979)
In the NFL since 2001 (picked by the Chargers out of Purdue), Brees was considered an injury risk when he signed with the New Orleans Saints. However, since moving to The Big Easy, Brees has missed only two games out of 176. An Super Bowl champion and MVP, he has led the NFL in passing yards in five out of the last six seasons, but he and the Saints have been to the playoffs just once since 2011.
1. Tom Brady (August 3, 1977)
The elder statesman of NFL quarterbacks, Brady will begin season number 18. A 5-time Super Bowl champion, 4-time Super Bowl MVP, 2-time regular season MVP and 12-time Pro Bowl selection. It’s been quite a ride which doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon.