5 best midseason QB signings in NFL history

The NFL has a history of quarterbacks signing for teams midway through a season
The NFL has a history of quarterbacks signing for teams midway through a season

NFL teams are currently scrambling to find solutions at quarterback after a raft of injuries to star names. But have there been successful mid-season signings before?

The San Francisco 49ers have lost both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo ahead of the final third of the 2022 season, leading to reports that they may look to sign a veteran free agent.

Colin Kaepernick stands out as the obvious suggestion, especially after Baker Mayfield was snapped up by the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.

With this quarterback carousel in full flow, it’s worth looking back through NFL history to find effective midseason signings that either paid off in that campaign or later.

Garoppolo himself was traded away by the New England Patriots midway through the 2017 season, and totally turned the 49ers’ fortunes around.

So, here is a list of the 5 best midseason QB signings in NFL history.

#5 Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)

Cam Newton
Cam Newton

Cam Newton remains an iconic figure in Carolina. He steered the team to a Super Bowl appearance in his first stint with the franchise, as well as putting up Hall of Fame numbers.

Whilst his departure from the Panthers initially came after a sizable drop in production, Newton would get a chance to return to Carolina and play in front of his beloved fans once more.

In November 2021, he was offered a one-year contract worth $10 million by the Panthers, despite a less-than-convincing spell with the New England Patriots the previous season.

BREAKING: Panthers sign Cam Newton…

Though he didn’t succeed on the field, it was the scale of his return which made this move a success.

It allowed relations between Newton and the franchise to heal and essentially brought closure to that chapter of NFL history.

#4 Bobby Layne (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Bobby Layne is a name that lives on in infamy within the Detroit Lions organization. After helping the team win multiple championships, he was inexplicably traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers midway through the 1958 season.

Layne was so furious at the move that he put a curse on the Lions franchise, condemning them to 50 years without another championship success.

It has been 64 years and the Lions haven’t won a championship since Layne cursed the team.

In Pittsburgh, Layne proved to be a hit. He won seven of the 10 games he started in 1958, passing for 2,339 yards. When you add this to his 171 passing yards in two games with the Lions that year, he led the league in passing yards.

In four full seasons with the Steelers, Layne only had a losing record once, and that came in 1961. He didn’t win another championship, but he consistently threw over 1,500 yards every season aside from his lean year in 1961.

#3 Bernie Kosar (Dallas Cowboys)

Bernie Kosar
Bernie Kosar

Bill Belichick’s time as head coach of the Cleveland Browns rarely gets mentioned. People forget it coincided with one of the most tumultuous seasons the NFL has ever seen when Art Modell elected to move the team to Baltimore.

Bernie Kosar was a long-standing legend in the eyes of Browns fans. He had been with the team since the 1980s, but Belichick felt that injuries had taken their toll on him.

Vinny Testaverde was preferred by the future Hall of Fame head coach, and by the 1993 season, Kosar was barely featuring.

Despite being considered the most beloved Browns player in franchise history, Belichick released Kosar midway through the 1993 campaign.

1993: #Cowboys beat #49ers 38-21 in NFC Championship Game at Texas Stadium. Troy Aikman throws for 177 yards & two TDs before Bernie Kosar takes over. Emmitt Smith and Daryl Johnston score on the ground as Cowboys advance to Super Bowl XXVIII, where they would beat #Bills 30-13

Whilst he didn’t find a team right away, the Dallas Cowboys picked him up as an emergency measure when Troy Aikman went down with an injury.

Kosar didn’t do much for Dallas until his spotlight moment. Aikman took a beating from the San Francisco 49ers defense in the NFC Championship game and had to be replaced. Kosar stepped in to ensure the Cowboys won the game and made it to the Super Bowl.

Dallas were victorious a week later, handing Kosar his first and only Super Bowl championship.

#2 Jim Everett (Los Angeles Rams)

Jim Everett
Jim Everett

Jim Everett was drafted third overall by the Houston Oilers in 1986. He was seen as one of the blue-chip quarterback prospects in that class.

However, the Oilers weren’t entirely sure what to do with him and merely took him as a protection pick. Warren Moon was to remain the starting QB in Houston and his performances improved dramatically in the 1986 season.

He never signed a contract with the Oilers and they traded his registration rights to the Los Angeles Rams after the start of the 1986 season.

Everett went on to be a starter for seven seasons with the Rams, having been voted into the Pro Bowl in 1990. He led the NFL in passing touchdowns for two successive years, in 1988 and 1989.

He proved to be an excellent long-term pickup for the Rams.

#1 Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers)

Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo briefly shone in Tom Brady’s absence, which highly inflated his value in a league that is desperate for good quarterbacks.

When it became apparent that TB12 was not yet done in Foxboro, Garoppolo’s expiring rookie contract was a problem for the Patriots.

They had to try and maximize value on an asset they couldn’t afford to keep, and one who didn’t want to remain as a backup.

The San Francisco 49ers, under a rejuvenated ownership model, were looking to return the franchise to the top of the NFL. They made the huge trade to take Jimmy G to the Bay Area midway through the 2017 season.

He would go unbeaten in five starts in 2017 as the Niners vastly improved their record and style of football.

Garoppolo has been an ever-present threat from the 49ers until 2022, and his exceptional 2019 season saw him throw for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns. The Niners rode Jimmy G all the way to the Super Bowl that year, even though they were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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