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5 most successful NFL journeyman quarterbacks of all-time

Baltimore Ravens v Washington Football Team
Baltimore Ravens v Washington Football Team
Matthew Wear

There are plenty of players across the NFL who spend their entire careers on one team and become legends with that franchise. However, there are just as many players around the league who jump from team to team, never spending more than a couple of seasons in each city.

Quarterbacks especially seem to jump around teams, as the position is a premium many teams are willing to take a chance on, usually on short-term contracts. Here are five examples of the most successful journeyman quarterbacks in NFL history.


#5 - Doug Flutie

Doug Flutie with the Buffalo Bills
Doug Flutie with the Buffalo Bills

Doug Flutie found success both in the CFL and the NFL, and it was in the latter where he spent time on five teams across a 19-year span. Flutie played for the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots twice, Buffalo Bills, and San Diego Chargers.

Flutie made the Pro Bowl in 1998 after leading the Bills to a 10-6 record. He was also named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in the same year, after Flutie had an eight-year hiatus from the league, spending time in the Canadian Football League. He would play until the age of 43, retiring after the 2005 NFL season.


#4 - Vinny Testaverde

Vinny Testaverde with the New York Jets
Vinny Testaverde with the New York Jets

It’s not often that we see a former number one overall pick become a journeyman, but that’s exactly what happened to Vinny Testaverde. Testaverde was drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1987 NFL Draft, and would spend the next 20 years bouncing the league.

The Miami product would play for the Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets twice, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and Carolina Panthers.

Testaverde ended his career with two Pro Bowls, as well as leading the AFC in passing touchdowns twice. He does, however, hold the record of most losses as a starting quarterback in NFL history with 134, which, if anything, proves his longevity, despite being discovered as colourblind.

#3 - Josh McCown

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles
Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles

Quarterback Josh McCown is up there with the most renowned journeyman quarterbacks in the league's history. After being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, McCown spent nearly two decades bouncing around the league for 12 different teams.

McCown represented the Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans across an 18-year stretch.

McCown was never an elite-level starter in the NFL, but he did have one of the craziest game-winning plays in league history. This happened when his touchdown throw for the Cardinals knocked the Minnesota Vikings out of playoff contention.

I still remember this day. When the 3-12 Cardinals and Josh McCown decided to ruin the Vikings season and their automatic #1 pick. https://t.co/ArrpkwRh3r

#2 - Nick Foles

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks
Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback Nick Foles has played for six teams since being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in round three of the 2012 Draft. Foles has spent time with the Eagles twice, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chicago Bears, and has recently signed with the Indianapolis Colts for the 2022 season.

Foles made the Pro Bowl and led the league in passer rating in 2013, and has the record for most touchdown passes in a game with seven.

His crowning moment, of course, came when he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl LII victory against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, where he ran the famous “Philly Philly” play and won Super Bowl MVP.

This beautiful statue of Nick Foles telling his head coach Doug Pederson which play they should run on 4th & goal in the Super Bowl will never be forgotten. https://t.co/vAQ2MlWbZ7

#1 - Ryan Fitzpatrick

Washington Football Team Training Camp
Washington Football Team Training Camp

There was only going to be one man to top the list! Ryan Fitzpatrick announced his retirement this week after 17 seasons in the NFL, playing for 12 different franchises. Fans of each team even rocked their jerseys on draft night this year!

Every Ryan Fitzpatrick fan pulled up to the draft 🤣 @brgridiron(via @RyanTerrana) https://t.co/AFQADZyONh

Fitzpatrick was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2005 and also spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and Washington Football Team.

His was a career that saw him pass for 223 touchdowns and 34,990 passing yards. He will go down in folklore amongst NFL fans for his beard, iconic interviews, and love of the game.

Veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is retiring from the NFL after 17 seasons. Threw for 34,990 passing yards and 223 TDs after coming into the league as a 7th-round pick out of Harvard. Gave fans some of the most memorable moments on and off the field.Heck of a career, Fitzmagic. https://t.co/Kd2LQ4xUjh
Edited by Akshay Saraswat

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