There’s a reason why people dream of becoming a quarterback. It’s one of the most important positions on a football team — and also the highest paid. In 2017, the average salary of a quarterback was $4.6 million USD. Star players like the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers have had extremely lucrative careers; in 2018 alone Rodgers reportedly made $75 million, which includes not only his top salary of $33.5 million but also bonuses and off-field earnings.
Of course, it’s on the field that quarterbacks really earn their keep. The position is one of the toughest and most high pressure across almost all sports and leagues. Quarterbacks must be the leaders of their team and often become the face of their franchise. They must know exactly what is going on with all the other players — their roles on the field and style of play — to keep the communication during a game flowing and process what’s happening around them at all times.
Not only do they have to be mentally acute, but also, physically skilled and strong. Arm strength and accuracy are important traits when making their all-important NFL throws, and speed comes into play while avoiding pass rushers whose job it is to take them down with a hard charge.
But who are the best of these all-star players, and what makes them the legendary figures of American football?
Here are 2019’s top five quarterbacks playing in the NFL.
Tom Brady — New England Patriots
Among the greatest quarterbacks of all time is Tom Brady. The 41-year old has had an illustrious career, playing in nine Super Bowls — and been on the winning team for six of them. He has won four Super Bowl MVP awards thus far — the most ever by a player.
With so many accolades under his belt, Brady is still going strong. He was honoured with his third NFL MVP at the NFL Honors show in February 2018 at age 40, making him the only player to do so in his age bracket.
Drew Brees — New Orleans Saints
At aged 40, Drew Brees is tailing Tom Brady as another one of the oldest players in the NFL. But like Brady, he’s not showing signs of slowing down any time soon.
“I realized [before the 2017 season] that I’m closer to the end than I am at the beginning … it’s gone by so fast. And I don’t want to let a second pass me by. I don’t want to take it for granted for one moment. So I’m just going to enjoy the moment, just going to stay in the moment and play the season like it’s my last. I’m going to play it with the mentality like it’s my last,” Brees said.
2018 was a big season for Brees. To start, the Saints’ quarterback passed Peyton Manning for the all-time passing yard record during the second quarter of a game against the Washington Redskins. He also completed an NFL-record 74.4 percent of his passes for 3,992 yards and 32 touchdowns; as well as leading the league in passer rating.
2019 will prove a new challenge for Brees to try and outplay his 2018 successes and continue to play with a heavy-hitting mentality that he’s become known for.
Patrick Mahomes — Kansas City Chiefs
The youngest quarterback on the list is Patrick Mahomes. The son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Pat Mahomes, Patrick signed to the Chiefs in 2017 for a rookie season on a four-year $16.42 million contract.
His ascension in the NFL world continued when, in January 2018, the Chiefs announced Mahomes as the starting quarterback for the 2018 season. While he’s one of the most expensive players you can select in your fantasy team, Mahomes has quickly become one of the most effective. Last season, he earned more than 400 points, becoming only the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. In four losses, Mahomes averaged 336.5 passing yards per game and threw 15 touchdowns. The 23-year-old is likely to shine again this season and should be a hot commodity in all DraftKings fantasy football leagues.
Philip Rivers — Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers’ 2018 NFL season was arguably one of the best of his career. The 37-year-old ranked eighth in completion percentage, tied sixth in touchdown passes, fifth in passer rating and came up third in yards per attempted.
But Rivers, like other quarterback legends, has played great football for years. He’s been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2013; a distinction of improvement from one year to the next.
Russell Wilson — Seattle Seahawks
Cincinnati-born Russell Wilson was first drafted by Seattle’s Seahawks in 2012 — the same year he tied Peyton Manning’s record for most passing touch downs by a rookie. Since then, he’s been on the rise and currently holds the record for most wins by an NFL quarterback through seven seasons.
In April 2019, Wilson signed a four-year contract extension with the Seahawks, worth $140 million. The extension makes him the highest paid player in the NFL. At just 30 years old, Wilson has plenty of top-level football left in him, especially if he can emulate some of the other names on this list.