While fans of most NFL teams hope that their backup quarterback never ever sees the field, they are still a very important member of the team. Very few people would argue that the quarterback is the most important player on any given team, and this fact makes the backup pretty important too. If the starter goes down, it is the backups job to take the reins and lead the team to victory.
While these guys don’t play a ton, that doesn’t mean they are bad players by any means. In fact, many of the backups in the NFL are actually quite good and deserve some more praise and attention. With that in mind, here are 10 of the best backup QBs in the NFL today, and why.
10. Derek Anderson – Carolina Panthers
While he hasn’t been too amazing in his most recent showings, Derek Anderson definitely deserves a spot on this list. He has been in the NFL for well over a decade and has been Cam Newton’s backup for the last seven seasons. He was also very instrumental in the Panthers winning the NFC South in 2014. When Newton was banged up, Anderson started two games on short notice and did well, leading the Panthers to Week 1 and Week 15 victories, all without throwing a single interception in either game. In addition to being a great backup, Anderson actually had a little bit of success as a starter. He made the Pro Bowl in 2007 as a member of the Cleveland Browns, when he threw for 29 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards.
9. Chad Henne – Jacksonville Jaguars
Before this season started, there were many experts and pundits who actually thought Chad Henne would win the starting job at QB for the Jacksonville Jaguars over Blake Bortles. While that hasn’t happened so far in the first few weeks of the season, Henne is still among the best backups in the NFL. While he is not the type of player who will wow people with his skills, a huge arm, or amazing stats, he is more than capable of being a spot starter. Throughout his near 10-year career, Henne has started over 50 games, so he definitely has the game-experience that eases coach’s nerves when putting him in. He has been quite average during these starts, but it’s better to be average as a backup QB than an unpredictable or untrustworthy player.
8. Drew Stanton – Arizona Cardinals
Stanton is one of those guys that easily escapes the minds and memories of most NFL fans until you see his name in an article like this one. He first got his start in the NFL in 2008 with the Lions and after a fairly disappointing start to his career, he was brought to Arizona. He is 6-3 in Arizona as a starter when Carson Palmer has been out, so you know he is at least capable of leading his team to victory when they need him too. He has also been the backup there for about five years, so he is very used to the offense they run. And with Bruce Arians being one of the most demanding coaches in the NFL, Stanton has obviously impressed him enough to stick around.
7. Brett Hundley – Green Bay Packers
Hundley has one of the easiest jobs in the NFL, playing as Aaron Rodgers’ backup. Rodgers is one of the best and most durable QBs of his generation and as a result, Hundley has barely seen any real game time, which is a good thing if you’re a Packers fan. But when he has played (in the preseason), he was very impressive and showed flashes of brilliance. He is also praised for his maturity off the field and has all the makings of a successful and composed QB. He had an amazing college career at UCLA and is the school leader in TD passes and total offense as well. While his sample size in the NFL is still small, he is learning from one of the best QBs in the league, which never hurts.
6. Nick Foles – Philadelphia Eagles
When most people think of Nick Foles, they think back to his legendary season in 2013. As a member of the Eagles, he threw a whopping 27 touchdowns to only two interceptions and had a QB rating of nearly 120. While that season got all the headlines, he actually has put together some other solid performances throughout his career. He had a pretty bad year in 2015 with the Rams, but that team was quite bad all around, so it was hard for anyone to find success. While he is unlikely to ever play like he did back in that legendary 2013 season, he is more than capable of being a solid backup in the NFL and he is in back in Philadelphia, where fans love him.
5. Matt Moore – Miami Dolphins
There are very few safer and more secure backup QBs than Miami’s Matt Moore. Moore is not going to shock and awe you with amazing play, but he probably won’t make any huge mistakes that will cost you a game. Moore has been the backup in Miami for well over five years now and continues to be great at what he does. Moore is more than capable of winning a couple of games in a pinch, as he proved last year. After regular starter Ryan Tannehill injured his knee, Moore led the team to a playoff berth, and even played pretty well in the playoff game as well. He’s not a “sexy” pick, but can definitely get the job done and deserves a high spot on this list of the best backup QBs in the NFL today.
4. Mitch Trubisky – Chicago Bears
Yes, he hasn’t played a regular season game in the NFL yet, but the second overall pick from 2017 has all the makings of a superstar. There is a good chance he won’t be eligible to be on this list for very much longer. He turned a lot of heads in the preseason, where he dominated and proved to many he was worthy of such a high draft choice. He is an incredible athlete, and also can throw a rocket pass with the best of them. If the preseason is any indication, he is also very quick at adjusting to the faster pace of the NFL. He currently sits behind Mike Glennon on the Bears depth chart, but in the minds of most people, he may soon take over the starting job.
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite his past as a starter with many teams including the Bills and the Jets, Fitzpatrick is much better suited as a backup QB at this point in his career. He has been in the league for nearly 15 years and has played for half a dozen teams. He has had some pretty great seasons, while also having some that are fairly forgettable. The best thing about Fitzpatrick currently is how amazingly smart he is. He knows the game well and can definitely help Jameis Winston get better. And if he is called on to come in and spot-start a few games, he is capable of that as well. He has started eight or more games for the last 10 seasons, so he has more than enough experience to step in from time-to-time.
2. AJ McCarron – Cincinnati Bengals
He was a big winner at Alabama, but that hasn’t really translated into his time in the NFL so far. McCarron is not lacking confidence and has all the throwing tools to be great. He has a solid floor in terms of backup QBs and has more upside than many on this list, since he is still very young. While he hasn’t had a ton of chances to play with Andy Dalton getting most of he snaps, McCarron has done well when called upon. Back in 2015, he went 2-1 with a near-100 QB rating in games started to help the Bengals get to the playoffs. With how Andy Dalton has played in the first few games of this season, don’t be shocked to see McCarron get a chance to play soon.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo
We have finally gotten to the best backup in the NFL and to no one’s surprise, it is Jimmy G. With Bill Belichick reportedly turning down first round picks for this guy, he is obviously very high on him. And for good reason, as there is likely a chance he could start for nearly a dozen teams out there. Despite only playing in a few regular season games, Garoppolo looked great. It also doesn’t hurt that he is learning from the GOAT Tom Brady. There is a very good chance that once Brady finally retires from the NFL, Garoppolo will be the surefire Patriots starter, one they have been grooming for years. That’s right, not only do the Patriots have Tom Brady, they also have the best backup in the league too.