What Is a Franchise Quarterback Exactly?

Sam SnyderCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2009

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts calls signals to his team during the AFC Wild Card Game against the San Diego Chargers on January 3, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Franchise quarterback. You hear it all the time, you can't look up a team without finding articles about getting a "franchise quarterback."

It's everywhere. "This team found it's franchise QB. This team needs a franchise QB." You can't escape it.

But what is a franchise quarterback?

It's odd that you see a word tossed around so much, but no one knows the exact meaning. Everyone talks about who is a franchise QB, but not what is a franchise QB is. You can't label a franchise QB unless you know what it is.

After research about people who are labeled as "franchise quarterbacks" and those who aren't considered as such.

The player must match certain criteria to be considered a franchise quarterback: consistency, talent, leadership/maturity, and football intelligence.


In order to be a franchise quarterback or to find one, the player needs to be able to perform a certain level all the time. That doesn't mean he has to be spectacular, but he can perform at a good performance day in and day out.

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Someone who throws five touchdown passes and no interceptions in one game, then throws five interceptions and no touchdowns the next would not make a good franchise quarterback.

If someone throws two touchdown passes and one interception in one game, and then repeats that performance every game, that is one step to becoming a "franchise QB."


You can run the ball as many times as you like, your defense can score as many points as you like. But the fact remains, if you're quarterback is a bum, your team will suffer.

Some teams feature a run first offense, where the quarterback is more of a game manager, but when he is needed, a true franchise QB can step up and make big plays for his team.

Quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Jake Delhomme, or Ben Roethlisberger aren't asked to throw a lot, nor is anyone expecting great numbers to come out of them. But when the time comes, they all can step up their game, Roethlisberger in particular.


Players look to their quarterback. They look to them for help, they look for them for guidance, and if a QB is willing to accept that role, then they're not set to be a franchise player.

The entire offense runs around the quarterback, and it's his job to rally his team around him, or they all crumble.

This also includes being a team player. If a quarterback is more concerned about his passer rating over his teams win-loss record, he is doomed for failure.

He must be able to accept responsibility for his mistakes, and not point fingers and cast blame on other offensive players for his shortcomings. He must be able to remain cool under pressure and keep his composure when things get sour.

If he's cracking under pressure, and being a self-centered crybaby, then he isn't qualified.

Football Intelligence

I'm not talking about the player's IQ or Wonderlic score, I'm talking about his on field head game. The quarterback has to know what is going on the field at all times, no exceptions.

He needs to know where the safeties, where his receivers are going. He needs to be able to pick up a blitz and correctly change the play. If there are seven DB's on the field, he should know not to pass it unless he absolutely has to.

This also includes decision making. If he decides to continuously throw the ball into triple coverage, or decides to rush the ball himself into a blitz, he isn't a franchise quarterback.

So using the following criteria, you can know make a list of the franchise quarterbacks of the NFL, who is becoming a franchise quarterback, and who has the potential to be a franchise QB.

Failed Franchise Quarterbacks

Alex Smith—San Fransisco 49ers

Marc Bulger—St. Louis Rams

Derek Anderson—Cleveland Browns

Tyler Thigpen—Kansas City Chiefs

Kyle Boller—Baltimore Ravens (2003-08)

Potential Franchise Quarterbacks

JaMarcus Russell—Oakland Raiders

Matt Stafford—Detroit Lions

Mark SanchezNew York Jets

Brady Quinn—Cleveland Browns

Josh Freeman—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Luke McCown—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Byron Leftwitch—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shaun Hill—San Fransisco 49ers

Vince Young—Tennessee Titans

Sage Rosenfels—Minnesota Vikings

Tarvaris Jackson—Minnesota Vikings

Troy Smith—Baltimore Ravens

Matt Leinart—Arizona Cardinals

Up-and-Coming Franchise Quarterbacks

Matt RyanAtlanta Falcons- All criteria, needs another year

Joe Flacco—Baltimore Ravens- All criteria, needs another year

Matt Cassel—Kansas City Chiefs- All criteria, needs another year

Jay CutlerChicago Bears- All criteria, new team

Kyle Orton—Denver Broncos- All criteria, new team

Carson Palmer—Cincinnati Bengals- Needs to stay healthy

Trent EdwardsBuffalo Bills- Needs consistency

Jason Campbell—Washington Redskins- Needs consistency

David Garrard—Jacksonville Jaguars- Needs consistency

Matt Schaub—Houston Texans- Needs to stay healthy

Kerry Collins—Tennessee Titans- Needs consistency

Matt Hasselbeck—Seattle Seahawks- Needs consistency/stay healthy

Current Franchise Quarterbacks

Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints

Phillip Rivers—San Diego Chargers

Tom BradyNew England Patriots

Eli ManningNew York Giants

Peyton ManningIndianapolis Colts

Aaron RodgersGreen Bay Packers

Tony RomoDallas Cowboys

Donovan McNabbPhiladelphia Eagles

Ben Roethlisberger—Pittsburgh Steelers

Kurt Warner—Arizona Cardinals

Jake Delhomme—Carolina Panthers

Chad Pennington—Miami Dolphins

I hope you found this list and definition interesting. Hopefully now that people know what a franchise QB really is, people will throw around that word with a little more thought.

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