All-Time Great Quarterbacks Switching NFL Teams: The Great, Good, Bad, and Ugly

A player of Tom Brady's caliber changing uniforms is rare

Tom Brady's move from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is truly unique. Of all the quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only 15 since 1950 have switched teams. Brady is a surefire Hall of Famer and thus a player of his caliber changing uniforms is rare.

 

Overall, great quarterbacks generally have some level of success regardless of where they play. Their biggest obstacles to winning are Father Time, franchise politics, and themselves. Here are the great, good, bad, and ugly.

 

Great

 

Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos 2012-15)

After missing the entire 2011 season because of a neck injury, Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts in March 2012. He signed with the Denver Broncos and led the team to two Super Bowl appearances and became the only quarterback to win two Lombardi Trophies with different teams as a starter. In 2013, he set single-season records for touchdown passes (55) and passing yards on his way to an unprecedented fifth NFL MVP award.

 

Y.A. Tittle (New York Giants (1961-64)

Tittle had a great career with the San Francisco 49ers but was considered washed up when the franchise traded him to the Giants for second-year guard Lou Cordileone. He proved that opinion wrong by leading the Giants to three straight NFL Championship Game appearances. In 1963, Tittle shattered the single-season touchdown pass record with 36 and that mark stood until Dan Marino broke it in 1984.

 

Norm Van Brocklin (Philadelphia Eagles (1958-60)

"The Dutchman" originally retired from the Los Angeles Rams after the 1957 season before changing his mind and getting traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Head coach Buck Shaw gave him control of the offense and in 1960, Van Brocklin led the Eagles to an NFL-best 10-2 record and the only NFL Championship Game victory over Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers.

 

Good

 

Brett Favre (Minnesota Vikings (2009-10)

Favre unretired a second time to play for the Minnesota Vikings. In 2009, he completed a career-best 68.4 percent of his passes and led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game. Favre returned in 2010, but his body broke down on him and he retired at the end of the season.

 

Kurt Warner (Arizona Cardinals 2005-09)

Warner is one of two quarterbacks to make this list twice because he struggled with the New York Giants in 2004. His struggles seemed to continue during his first three seasons in with the Cardinals. Then in 2008, he seemed to find his old mojo and led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl and made the Pro Bowl as well. After taking Arizona to the playoffs the next season, Warner retired.

 

Joe Montana (Kansas City Chiefs 1993-94)

After missing nearly two seasons with an elbow injury and losing his starting job with the San Francisco 49ers to Steve Young, Montana was traded to the Chiefs. Even though he struggled with injuries in both seasons in K.C., "Joe Cool" still showed flashes of brilliance and led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game in 1993 and another playoff appearance in '94.

 

Bad

 

Brett Favre (New York Jets 2008)

After retiring from the Green Bay Packers in 2008, Favre changed his mind and was traded to the New York Jets for a fourth-round pick. New York started 8-3 but lost four of their last five games and Favre "retired" again after the season. He also was later accused of leaving inappropriate voicemails for and sexting team sideline report Jenn Sterger during the season. Favre eventually admitted to sending voicemails, but not pictures, and was ultimately fined $50,000 by the league for failing to cooperate with its investigation.

 

Kurt Warner (New York Giants 2004)

Warner was released by the St. Louis Rams after the 2003 season and signed with the New York Giants. He led the team to a 5-2 start but lost his job to rookie Eli Manning after losing two games in a row. Warner voided the last year of his contract and left the team after the season.

 

Ken Stabler (Houston Oilers 1980-81)

The Oakland Raiders traded Stabler for Houston Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini in 1980. That season, "The Snake" threw 13 touchdown passes compared to 28 interceptions, and Houston was beaten in the playoffs by his old team, which was bound for the Super Bowl. Stabler had an average season in 1981 and was traded to the New Orleans Saints after it.

 

Ugly

 

Joe Namath (Los Angeles Rams 1977)

Namath was waived by the New York Jets and signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 1977. He led the Rams to a 2-1 start but threw four picks in a 24-23 loss to the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football" in Week 4. Los Angeles benched Namath for Pat Haden and "Broadway Joe" retired at the end of the season.

 

Johnny Unitas (San Diego Chargers 1973)

The Baltimore Colts traded Unitas to the San Diego Chargers after benching him during the 1972 season. Unfortunately, the 40-year-old quarterback was not the same player he used to be, and the Chargers replaced him with Dan Fouts after a 1-3 start. Unitas retired during the 1974 preseason.

 

— Compiled by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

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