These Franchise Quarterbacks Didn’t Finish Their Career With The Same Team
It’s a challenge to make a name for yourself, especially in the NFL. It takes a certain type of player to put the team on their shoulders and leave a legacy behind them.
That’s especially true for quarterbacks, who are the heart and soul on the offensive side of the ball. But, it’s no doubt strange when a franchise quarterback leaves town and finishes their career on a different team. Surprisingly, a good amount of the most beloved quarterbacks didn’t finish their careers in the cities they carried for so long.
His name is most associated with the Baltimore Colts, a team he played for from 1956-1972. The ten-time Pro Bowler was the league MVP in 1954, 1964 and 1967. “Johnny U” even held a 52-year-long record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
The Louisville alum was the prototype of the modern era of marquee quarterback by leading a strong passing game. However, in 1973 he was traded to the San Diego Chargers, and retired in the preseason of 1974. Before the Mannings, Bradys and Montana’s, Unitas was one of the greatest NFL players of all-time.
Despite playing for several teams, McMahon was best known as the offensive leader for the 1985 Chicago Bears. During his six seasons in the Windy City, he helped the team win Super Bowl XX. After a fall out with coach Mike Ditka, McMahon was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1989. He wound up playing for the Eagles, Vikings, and Cardinals.
But, Bears fans don’t want to remember McMahon playing for the Green Bay Packers, where he won Super Bowl XXI as Brett Favre’s backup.
Following Kurt Warner’s departure, Bulger was the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. He helped the Rams make playoff runs in 2003 and 2004, with two Pro Bowl appearances to his name.
His tenure in Missouri lasted from 2001 until 2009, but he went on and signed a one-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens. However, he never saw a snap with the team as Bulger spent the final year of his career as the backup to Joe Flacco.
The Minnesota Vikings took the University of Central Florida alum with the 11th pick in 1999. Culpepper had his best statistical season in 2004, passing for a league-leading 4,717 yards, and a Vikings record 39 touchdowns.
However, the three-time Pro Bowler sustained a knee injury the following season. Culpepper was ultimately traded to the Miami Dolphins, and eventually played with the Oakland Raiders. Following a brief retirement, he returned to the Detriot Lions from 2008-2009.
The Boston College alum made a name for himself with the Seattle Seahawks. Hasselbeck led the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in 2006. Hasselbeck was a three-time Pro Bowler with six playoff appearances before the team surprisingly released him in 2010.
From there, he’d sign a three-year contract with the Titans. He would spend the remainder of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, serving as a mentor and backup to Andrew Luck.
“Air McNair” was the first ever franchise quarterback the Tennessee Titans laid their hands on. McNair proved himself worthy when he led the franchise to their lone Super Bowl appearance in 2000. The three-time Pro Bowler would take home league MVP honors in 2003.
In 2006, he was traded to the Ravens, playing with the team for two seasons before retiring. McNair faced an ugly fate after he was shot and killed on July 4, 2009.
The Marshall alumn was the New York Jets first-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. For seven seasons, Pennington led New York to three playoff appearances in 2002, 2004, and 2006.
But, the two-time Comeback Player of the Year was released in 2007 after the team acquired Brett Favre. Pennington would play out the remaining three years of his career with the Dolphins. His battle with a shoulder injury for the final part of his football career.
“Frantic Fran” began his career in Minnesota and played there for five seasons. Considered one of the pioneers of mobile quarterbacking, he was traded to the New York Giants in 1967. However, Tarkenton returned to the Vikings in 1972, leading the franchise to three NFC championships.
In his Super Bowl appearances, his team lost to Miami and Oakland. In 18 seasons, Tarkenton held many NFL records, including passing yards and touchdowns. The Virginia native was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
During his 11 seasons in Philadelphia, McNabb established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in franchise history. The Syracuse standout would throw for over 30,000 yards and 200 touchdowns throughout his career. He even led the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX, losing to the New England Patriots.
In 2010, the Eagles traded McNabb to Washington, where he would start in 12 games. In his final season, McNabb only started six games for the Vikings, losing the job to Christian Ponder.
The first overall pick of the 1993 NFL Draft had an excellent tenure with the New England Patriots. The four-time Pro Bowler ended a seven-season postseason drought with the Patriots, making two Super Bowl appearances. Bledsoe’s career-threatening injury in 2001 paved the way for future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady.
The Washington State alum found some rejuvenation with the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys. With Dallas, Bledsoe lost his job to another up-and-coming quarterback, Tony Romo.
The Alabama alum will forever be associated with the New York Jets. Namath led the Jets to their first and only Super Bowl victory in 1969. “Broadway Joe” spent the twilight of his career with the Los Angeles Rams.
Namath hoped to revive his career, but knee injuries and a bad hamstring cost him dearly. He would be benched as a starter after three starts into the season, then packed up his cleats after the 1977 season.
Drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1993, Green played for the BC Lions in the CFL the following year. But, the Indiana alum made a stop in Washington before landing in St. Louis. It was there that Green would win Super Bowl XXXIV as the backup to Kurt Warner.
Following his two seasons with the Rams, Green solidified himself in six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. The two-time Pro Bowler retired in 2008 and has worked as an NFL color analyst.
The Virginia alum was drafted by the Packers in the fourth round of the 1999 draft. The Packers traded Brooks to the New Orleans Saints where he was the franchise leader in season and career touchdown passes. In time, both records would be broken by Drew Brees. The mediocre play from Brooks would eventually cost him his job, as the Saints released him in 2006.
Following the departure, he signed with the Raiders. However, he struggled mightily with 26 sacks and eight interceptions. Brooks hasn’t seen the field since.
The Santa Barbara native played 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. But, Cunningham is best known for his tenure with the Vikings. In 1998, the UNLV alum came out of retirement to join the purple and gold. He enjoyed the strongest season of his career while helping the team make it to the NFC Championship Game.
After the 1999 season, he was released after failing to match his success the previous year. In his final two seasons, he played for the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens.
Warren Moon won Grey Cups in the CFL before making the transition into the NFL. Once he did, he became the first African-American quarterback and the first undrafted QB to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The nine-time Pro Bowler made a home in Houston with the Oilers from 1984 to 1993. Some might remember his stint in Minnesota, but there were less memorable days in Seattle. In his final two seasons, Moon played for the Chiefs.
Despite being drafted by the Denver Broncos, Cutler is best associated with the Chicago Bears. During his eight seasons in the Windy City, he was the subject of praise and criticism. Cutler did manage to lead the Bears to the NFC Championship Game in 2010 before a knee injury sidelined him.
Following the 2016 season, Cutler announced his retirement to become a sportscaster. However, after Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending injury, he signed a one year contract with the team.
In 1997, Delhomme began his professional career as a practice squad member with the Saints. For two seasons, he played in the NFL Europe, gaining attention from teams back home.
In 2003, the Louisianna native signed as a free agent with the Carolina Panthers, guiding the team to Super Bowl XXXVIII. After a nightmare 2009 season, he was released due to a season-ending injury. The former Pro Bowler would make brief stops in Cleveland and Houston until he retired in 2011.
The 11-time Pro Bowler was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 1992, then was traded to Green Bay the following season. After leading the Packers to a triumphant Super Bowl XXXI victory, the South Miss alum became a legend in the city.
Favre’s career didn’t end there though. He played one season for the New York Jets after a brief retirement. Afterward, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings a season later. The two-time passing yards leader finally packed it up for good in 2010.
Vick spent his best years with the Atlanta Falcons. He was one of the most electrifying quarterbacks to run with the ball instead of throwing it. In his prime, he was considered to be one of the most thrilling players on the gridiron.
However, off-field issues forced him to sit out the prime of his career. Eventually, Vick did come back in 2010 when he signed with the Eagles. He spent the final two seasons with the Jets and Steelers, respectively.
“Joe Cool” played with the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 until 1992. The two-time NFL MVP helped carry his team to four Super Bowl titles throughout the eighties. Montana was a beloved figure in the Bay area and across football.
It may be hard to picture the Hall of Famer in another uniform, but he actually finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Montana led the Chiefs to two playoff appearances, including the 1993 AFC Championship Game, then called it quits in 1995.