The Best NFL Backup Quarterbacks Of All Time

Voting Rules
Vote up the best backup quarterbacks to ever play the game.

Who is the best backup quarterback of all time? When it comes to the best quarterbacks in the league, most fans think about long, deep spiral passes shot out of rocket arms from the best quarterbacks of all time. However, things don't always go according to plan in the NFL. In fact, every year 6 quarterbacks on average get injured to the point they are ruled out for the remainder of the season. In the National Football League, it's always next man up, and that's why a team will come to rely on a backup quarterback. While it's not Plan A, it's Plan Be Okay With The Results. Often times it's not pretty, but sometimes these backups step into the limelight and prove everyone wrong with spectacular play and winning results. Who are the best backup quarterbacks of all time? Which backup QBs did you love to watch?

When it comes to the NFL best backup QBs of all time, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles must be up there with anyone. In 2018, Foles took over the offense after starter Carson Wentz got hurt. He went 4-1 and led the team on a run to win the Super Bowl with near flawless play. The best backup quarterbacks of all time could also be Jim Plunkett, Randall Cunningham, or Doug Williams who all performed admirably when given the chance. Then there's Jimmy Garoppolo to contend with, as one of the best backup quarterbacks currently playing in the NFL.

Vote up the best backup quarterback in NFL history, and help decide which second stringer was best! 


  • Nick Foles
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    63 votes

    Nick Foles was one of the most sturdy and reliable backup quarterbacks in the NFL for over a decade, playing for 6 different teams during his run. Nothing can be more special, however, than Foles's masterclass of the 2018 season. After Philadelphia Eagle's quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury, Foles was roaring and ready to go, leading the team to a 4-1 record during his time as the starter. Foles led the Eagles all the way to the Super Bowl and took home the Lombardi Trophy in addition to the Super Bowl MVP. While Foles would get another starting opportunity, injuries derailed him, and he became a backup once again.

    • Team: Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is the true definition of a journeyman. Playing for 9 different teams throughout his 17-year career, Fitzpatrick was always ready to shock the world whenever given the opportunity. Aptly given the nickname Fitzmagic, the Harvard product displayed some of the most incredible highlight plays ever seen in the NFL when he was on the field, but his lack of consistency relegated him to the backup position. Always a fan favorite no matter where he went, Fitzpatrick will go down in history as one of the most beloved backup quarterbacks in NFL history.

    • Team: St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets
  • 3
    47 votes

    Jim Plunkett's career was an incredibly mixed bag to say the very least. On one hand, the legendary quarterback only had 3 winning seasons during his entire career, never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, and his statistics were nothing to write home about. On the other, Plunkett won two Super Bowls and even took home a Super Bowl MVP! Devastating injuries derailed his bright career and relegated him to become a backup for the latter half of his career, but during this stretch he made his most amazing accomplishments, and Plunkett's Hall of Fame case is one of the most talked about among hardcore NFL fans.

    • Team: Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers
  • Kurt Warner
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    57 votes

    One of the greatest Cinderella Stories in the history of sports, Kurt Warner was a grocery store clerk before he got his big break in the NFL. Warner was a backup for the St. Louis Rams when just one game into the season, starting quarterback Trent Green suffered a horrific season-ending injury. Warner was inserted into the starting lineup, and changed the way the game was played forever. The “Greatest Show on Turf” was born and Warner would win league MVP honors and win the franchise's first Super Bowl! Over the next 10 years, Warner would have an up-and-down career, with 5 of his next 10 seasons being relegated to being a backup, but his Cinderella run is something that will live in sports for the rest of eternity. 

    • Team: St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants
  • Doug Flutie
    Photo: flickr / CC0
    18 votes

    Doug Flutie had arguably one of the most bizarre and wacky careers of any backup quarterback on this list. His first 4 years in the league went terribly, so he decided he would spend the next near-decade playing for the Canadian Football League. When Flutie finally returned to the NFL in 1998, he shocked the world, taking over the Buffalo Bills and leading them to real playoff success. Of course, this only lasted a few seasons, as by this time Flutie was almost 40 years old, and he would be relegated to a bench position for the next few years. Arguably most impressive of all is the fact that Flutie managed to play until the age of 43, something very few quarterbacks have ever been able to do.

    • Team: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers
  • 6
    38 votes

    Playing for 6 teams over his heralded 21-year career, Earl Morrall always managed to stick around and make himself a key contributor for each and every one of his teams. Always ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes to win, even if that meant being relegated to the backup position. During the few seasons, Morrall was allowed to start, he was stellar, winning MVP, being selected to two Pro Bowls, and even helping the Indianapolis Colts win a Super Bowl! However, up-and-down play relegated Morrall to staying on the bench, but he would win another 2 championships there, and even be apart of the Miami Dolphins' magnificent 17-0 season.

    • Team: San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Baltimore Colts