The NFL is a young man's game. The wear and tear on a football player's body not only stops them from playing at a sustained high level, year in and year out, but can shorten careers just as quickly.
Over the past several years, the NFL has a seen some of its most significant quarterbacks retire due to performance (Drew Brees) and injuries (Andrew Luck). The most important position on the football field is also one that can end just as quickly as it began.
Heading into the 2022 season, the quarterback position has never been this loaded with talent under 30. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have established a budding rivalry for AFC dominance. At the same time, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson continue to demonstrate their multi-level skills on a week-by-week basis, making their teams perennial contenders for the Super Bowl.
However, the old guard of the NFL quarterback class is still alive and ready to lead their teams to one more shot at glory. These veteran signal callers have had plenty of accomplishments but heading into the 2022 season, they will be looked upon to not just be a part of a team's success, but to be the catalyst for that.
Here are the top five NFL quarterbacks over 30 heading into the 2022 NFL season.
#5 - Matt Ryan, 37 years old - Indianapolis Colts
Matt Ryan started over 200 NFL games, all for the Atlanta Falcons, winning an NFL MVP in 2016 - the same year he led the Falcons to the Super Bowl. While Ryan has never won the big game, he is perhaps in his best position since the 2016 season, now as the starter for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts have been looking for a quarterback since Andrew Luck's early retirement, and Ryan is the best of that bunch. Heading into the 2022 season, Ryan will surely pass for over 60,000 yards passing and has a chance to reach 400 career touchdown passes.
#4 - Russell Wilson, 33 years old - Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson will be heading to Denver this year not just in an attempt to make the Broncos into a serious contender for the Super Bowl, but also to prove that he can win by playing the game the way he wants to play.
Much has been made of his former head coach Pete Carroll wanting to play tough defense and run the ball, over handing the keys to Wilson. This season, Wilson will be given the keys and everything else he needs to get the Broncos out of quarterback purgatory and to challenge in the very tough AFC West.
#3 - Matthew Stafford, 34 years old - Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford silenced his doubters, leading the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl last season. In doing so, Stafford proved himself to be not just a gun-slinger-type quarterback who couldn't win.
He also showed himself as one of the best leaders and quarterbacks in the NFL. His connection with Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp was something defenses could not figure out, and he helped revitalize the career of Odell Beckham Jr.
Heading into the 2023 season, Stafford will be looking to do the same with former Chicago Bear, Allen Robinson, in an attempt to win another wide-open NFC.
#2 - Aaron Rodgers, 38 years old - Green Bay Packers
The reigning NFL MVP has in many ways never looked better. At 38 years old, Aaron Rodgers looks completely comfortable behind the line of scrimmage and his relationship with head coach Matt LaFluer seems to be on solid ground.
Rodgers and the Packers have always looked like contenders to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and the quarterback has put up fantastic numbers, aging like fine wine.
In the past three seasons, Rodgers has thrown for over 4000 yards each year, with 110 total touchdowns and only 11 total interceptions. While the Packers and Rodgers are missing that elusive second ring, they enter the 2023 season as NFC North favorites.
#1 - Tom Brady, 44 years old - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The greatest quarterback of all time decided that he wasn't ready to hang up his cleats just yet and is returning for the the 2023 season. The Buccaneers have surrounded Brady with the talent he needs to lead the team to another championship.
Brady stands at the top of almost every NFL record there is for a quarterback, but his most impressive feats have been his playoff performances. With seven NFL championships and 10 visits to the Super Bowl, Brady remains one of the all-time best playoff performers in any sport.
Whether it's his lifestyle or situation, no other athlete has been able to play at this high a level at this advanced an age. If you were to create a list of the best NFL players over 40 heading into the 2023 season, there would only be one name on that list.