On a recent edition of TailGate Talk Show, myself and fellow blogger Danny Price debated the question of if we were seeing the end of the golden era of quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning recently hung up his boots at the age of 39, and there are other notable gunslingers not too far behind in terms of age.
With that, I’m going to take a look at the current crop of NFL quarterbacks at the age of 30 or older and make some predictions on them.
I’m leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick off this list due the uncertainty of his status with the New York Jets.
1. Tom Brady, 38
His career numbers speak for themselves with 428 career TD passes and 58,028 career passing yards to go with four Super Bowl titles, three Super Bowl MVP awards, two league MVP awards, a regular season record of 172-51, a playoff record of 22-9 and he’s won six out of the 10 AFC title games he’s played in.
Brady is currently signed through the 2019 season, meaning he will be 42 when that season begins and what’s funny is I can actually see him playing at the age.
Minus the 2008 season where he tore his ACL, Brady has not been as injury plagued as Peyton was around this stage in his career, so I can see Brady playing out his contract and calling it quits afterwards.
What’s next for Brady? Brady will play out his current contract with the New England Patriots and retire after the 2019 season at the age of 42.
2. Drew Brees, 37
Another guy quickly approaching 40, Brees recently turned 37 and is entering his 16th season.
A bit of a dud in San Diego, Brees has been playing lights out since becoming a New Orleans Saint in 2006, even winning a Super Bowl and passing for over 5,000 yards four times.
His career numbers include 60,903 passing yards, 428 passing TDs, a 217-216 regular season record and an 11-11 postseason record as well as a Super Bowl MVP award.
What’s next for Brees? Currently in the final year of his contract, Brees I feel will get a two-year extension either right before training camp starts or right after the season ends. He’ll play out those two seasons and retire at the age of 39.
3. Carson Palmer, 36
The man who Father Time forgot, Palmer, has been the case of getting better with age as he enters his 13th year in the league.
Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003, Palmer was there until 2011 when he “retired” from play but was then traded to the Oakland Raiders, and then traded again to the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 where he’s resurrected his career.
The three-time Pro Bowler has a career record of 83-76, but a postseason record of 1-3. His career numbers include 40,036 passing yards and 259 TD passes.
What’s next for Palmer? His contract runs out at the end of the 2017 season. The pressure is on the Cardinals to win a Super Bowl and win one now, but I feel if Palmer doesn’t at least reach another conference title game prior to his contract expiring, the Cardinals will let him walk. He will probably sign a one-year backup deal in 2018 with a franchise needing a veteran guy to mentor a young quarterback, and then he will retire after that deal expires at the age of 39.
4. Tony Romo, 36
One of the most controversial quarterbacks in recent memory not named Tim Tebow.
Romo, an undrafted rookie in 2003, has proven to be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks since coming off the bench in his third season in 2006.
However, inconsistencies early in his starting tenure dampered his reputation, but when he got over those late season collapses the injury bug started to bite him.
With an overall record of 78-49 on top of a postseason record of 2-4, Romo will go down as a great regular season quarterback tossing 247 TD passes and 34,154 yards.
He’s the Dallas Cowboys’s all time leader in passing yards and passing TDs.
What’s next for Romo? A back injury has plagued Romo for most of his career, and speaking from experience, those types of things don’t go away; you just deal with it. His contract expires at the end of the 2019 season, but if Dallas fails to make the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, or if Romo can’t stay healthy, he will probably be shown the door. I expect him to sign a three-year deal to be a starter for another team at the beginning of 2018 while they groom a younger quarterback for the future. He’ll lose his starting job midway through the season and then retire at its conclusion at the age of 38.
5. Eli Manning, 35
The Ironman of the NFL, Eli is the one QB over the age of 35 that has never sat out a game due to injury. He missed the second half of the season opener in 2007 against the Cowboys and that was it.
A somewhat inconsistent career, Eli has two Super Bowl wins and two Super MVP awards to go with his resume – but he’s led the league in interceptions three times in his career and tossed more than 20 all three of those times.
Eli has thrown 294 TD passes to 199 interceptions in his career, but always shows up when it matters in the postseason by tossing 17 TDs to seven interceptions. He holds a regular season record of 97-86, so he will join the 100-wins club this season, and a postseason record of 11-8.
What’s next for Eli? I don’t forsee any nagging injuries, or serious injuries, playing a part in Eli calling it an early career *knocks on wood.* His contract is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season, but I feel he will sign a two-year extension after that and retire after the 2021 season at the age of 40.
6. Ben Roethlisberger, 34
A career marked by multiple rape allegations, a reckless motorcycle accident, and injuries; Roethlisberger’s career has certainly been one that not many franchise quarterbacks endure and still receive high praise by peers and fans.
Still, as much as his life off the field as impacted his life on the field, you can’t deny that Big Ben is one of the few quarterbacks in his league who will retire with the team he started with because of what he’s done for the Pittsbugh Steelers franchise; which includes three Super Bowl appearances and winning two of them.
He has only started a full 16 game schedule three times in his career, but has thrown for 42,995 yards and 272 TDs to go with a 113-56 regular season record and an 11-6 postseason record.
What’s next for Roethlisberger? I feel Big Ben will be one of the few quarterbacks mentioned on this list who retires with the team he was drafted by. His contract expires after the 2019 season, but again, injuries have plagued him his entire career and I forsee some nagging ones coming back to bite him over the next two or three seasons. I think Roethlisberger will call it quits after the 2018 season at the age of 37.
7. Philip Rivers, 34
Rounding out the 2004 quarterback draft class, Rivers is the only one of the three between him, Eli and Roethlisberger to not win a Super Bowl; let alone play in one.
The San Diego Chargers were one of the better teams in the NFL in the mid-2000’s, and have been mediocre or below average at best since their 13-3 season in 2009.
As poor as the Chargers have been, Rivers has been stellar with five Pro Bowl appearances and throwing 281 TD passes and for 41.447 yards.
His regular season record 92-68 and a postseason record of 4-5.
What’s next for Rivers? Like some of the others on this list, Rivers has never dealt with nagging injuries. He tore his ACL in 2007, but came back strong in 2008 like nothing happened. His contract is set to expire after the 2019 season, and he should retire after it expires at the age of 37, provided the Chargers don’t make the jump to Los Angeles before that. Rivers has stated in the past that if the Chargers were to relocate, he would most likely call it quits.
8. Alex Smith, 32
If there is one guy on this list who went from a bust to a star, it’s Smith.
He struggled to stay on the field and often threw almost as many interceptions as he did touchdowns, if not more. In 2011, he rejuvenated his career under San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and led the team to the NFC title game.
After losing his starting job to Colin Kaepernick, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he has thrown for 61 TDs and 21 interceptions ever since.
His overall career numbers include 142 TD passes and 23,344 yards in the regular season to go with a 68-52, but a TD to interception ratio of 11-1 in the postseason to go with a 2-3 record.
What’s next for Smith? His contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, but I feel the Chiefs will let him ride that out and Smith will be looking to play elsewhere in 2019. I predict he will sign one-year contracts with at least three different NFL teams, but will sit out in 2021 due to lack of interest from other teams and he will announce his retirement in 2022 at the age of 38.
9. Aaron Rodgers, 32
The guy who many believe to be the best quarterback in the NFL has been living up to those expectations.
Since coming off the bench in 2008, Rodgers has won two league MVP awards and one Super Bowl while also holding the highest single season passer rating in NFL History with 122.5.
His career numbers include a 257-65 touchdown to interception ratio and 32,399 passing yards. His regular season record is 80-39, and his postseason record sits at 7-6.
What’s next for Rodgers? His contract expires after 2019 when he turns 36, but I expect him to sign an extension before his current deal expires that will take him through 2023. Rodgers will retire after the 2021 season, though, due to nagging injuries as he does have a tendency to catch the injury bug. He’ll be 39 at that point.
10. Joe Flacco, 31
Flacco’s numbers have not been eye popping over the course of his career, with a TD-INT ratio of 162-102 and only 28,322 passing yards.
Still, despite his game-manager numbers Flacco has one Super Bowl win to his name and was the first quarterback in NFL history to win at least one playoff game in his first five seasons.
Flacco’s regular season record currently sits at 75-47 and his playoff record is 10-5.
What’s next for Flacco? His contract expires after the 2021 season, meaning he’ll be 37-years-old prior to the 2022 season. I think Flacco will ride out his contract and retire after 2021.
11. Matt Ryan, 31
Ryan and Flacco’s careers will always run parallel, with some arguing that Ryan is the better quarterback of the two, but others will say Flacco is due to his playoff wins and Super Bowl ring.
Ryan has only been in five playoff games, and owns a 1-4 record in the postseason while his regular season record currently sits at 74-52.
His career passing numbers include 202 touchdown passes and 32,575 passing yards.
What’s next for Matt Ryan? Matt Ryan’s contract expires after the 2018 season, so if he’s going to improve his playoff record now is the time to do so. If he fails to win a postseason game in 2016 or 2017, the Atlanta Falcons will probably release him before 2018, and he will sign a multi-year contract with a team desperate for a starter. I predict Ryan will retire after the 2021 season when he turns 36.