The top 3 of the oldest starting quarterbacks in the NFL list doesn’t change this year. Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning aren’t just the elders of the game, they’re still at such a high level that’s very hard for much younger guys to reach on a consistent level except for maybe a player or two.
Injuries and late career blossom for certain guys changed the list compared to last season, as Shaun Hill comes out of nowhere to start for the Rams (for now) and Josh McCown is suddenly looked at as a capable starter. Matt Schaub and Michael Vick, who were on the list last year, lost their starting roles for the time being.
10th – Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers), 32
Born on March 2, 1982, Roethilsberger is entering his 11th NFL season, part of that famous 2004 quarterback draft class. He has been the starting quarterback for the Steelers for his entire career, winning two Super Bowls and losing in another one. He is a two-time Pro Bowler, hoping to rebound from two rough season for him individually and the team in general, failing to make the playoffs.
9th – Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers), 32
Another ‘class of ’04’ quarterback, Rivers was born on December 8, 1981. A starter for the Chargers since 2006, he hasn’t missed a single game in the last eight seasons. Last year was a rebound season for himself and the franchise, making the playoffs after a frustrating postseason drought. Rivers himself might have had his best season, leading the league in completion percentage with 69.5%. He is a five time Pro-Bowler, and last year’s winner of comeback player of the year.
8th – Eli Manning (New York Giants), 33
A two-time Super Bowl champion, Eli Manning was born on January 3, 1981. He has started every game for the Giants since 2005, but has come across two rough seasons, failing to make the playoffs, and personally having a terrible 2013 in which he reverted back to “old Eli” by throwing a league high 27 interceptions, the third time in his career leading the NFL in picked passes. He has made the Pro Bowl three times.
7th – Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys), 34
Born on April 21, 1980, Romo was thrust into the starting role quite surprisingly in 2006, and has been one of the more polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL since then when the subject of his ability comes up for discussion. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and last year put up excellent numbers once again until a back injury took him out of the last game and possibly cost the Cowboys a playoff spot on the last day, something they’ve failed to achieve four consecutive seasons, three times losing a final-week do-or-die game.
6th – Shaun Hill (St. Louis Rams), 34
What?! Who?! Yes, due to Sam Bradford going down and ending the season before it even started, Shaun Hill is the designated starter for the Rams at the moment. Born on January 9, 1980, Hill has led his team to 13 wins on his 26 careers starts, the last of which coming in 2010 for the Lions, his team for the past four seasons. He also started for the 49ers in the pre-Harbaugh years, when it seemed Alex Smith was about the get kicked off the team at any moment.
5th – Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals), 34
Palmer is an interesting case of ‘what if’ due to two serious injuries that have probably taken his career off a golden path into a less memorable one. Born on December 27, 1979, he has been in the league since 2003, playing for the Bengals, Raiders and now entering his second season as the starter for the Arizona Cardinals. He has always been something of a careless thrower, but last season he peaked with 22 interceptions. He made the Pro Bowl twice, but the last time was eight years ago.
4th – Josh McCown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), 35
Proof that if you stick around for long enough, someone will remember you’re not that bad. McCown made the most of Jay Cutler’s injury, starting five games for the Chicago Bears last season and put up some impressive numbers, including just one interception thrown out of 224 pass attempts. This landed him with the Buccaneers who aren’t counting on Mike Glennon right now. McCown has been in the league since 2002, playing for his sixth team now. He was born on July 4, 1979.
3rd – Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), 35
Born on January 15, 1979, Drew Brees is going into his 14th season in the NFL, playing as a starter for the Chargers and then the Saints since 2002. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time first team All-Pro and most importantly a Super Bowl champion and MVP, Brees has passed the 5000 passing yards mark four times in his career, putting him fifth all-time on the passing yards list and fourth in touchdown passes.
2nd – Tom Brady (New England Patriots), 37
Born on August 3, 1977, Tom Brady is going into his 15th NFL season. The accolades are endless: Three-time Super Bowl champion with two Super Bowl MVPs and two more visits to the big game, losing to the Giants. He is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time first team All-Pro and a regular season MVP twice as well. With every “failure” to win another Super Bowl some are trying to tarnish his legacy or diminish his role in the ongoing success, but even through rougher years, Brady seems to deserve to be mentioned among the best quarterbacks in the league and of all-time.
1st – Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos), 38
If only winning Super Bowls wasn’t such a strong indicator for greatness in the eyes of people arguing over who is the best ever… Manning has one championship ring to be proud of, but he has also lost twice in the big game, including the humiliation against the Seahawks last season. He has been with the Colts from 1998 to 2011 and is entering his third season with the Broncos, where has been extremely successful. The list of accolades? Super Bowl MVP, five-time regular season MVP, 13-time Pro Bowl selection, 7-time first team All-Pro. He led the league last year in passing yards (5477) and passing touchdowns (55), both NFL records. He needs 18 more touchdowns to become the NFL’s all-time leader in passing TDs and 6875 passing yards to become number one. Brett Favre currently holds both top spots.