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Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks may have zero Super Bowl championships to their credit, but most NFL organizations would be jealous of the top-end talent they’ve enjoyed at the most important position in the sport. From Ken Anderson to Carson Palmer to Joe Burrow, the franchise has laid claim to many memorable signal-callers.

Burrow is only just getting started as a truly elite option and has already led Cincy to one of three appearances in the big game. But how high up the pecking order does the strangely nicknamed LSU product already rank considering Bengals quarterbacks have accrued 14 Pro Bowl appearances since the AFL expansion team’s doors opened in 1968?

Dewey Warren took the Bengals’ first snaps, completing 14 of 26 passes for 125 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception in a 29-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Things have improved since then.

Using the Total Yards Added (TYA) metric I developed for QB Math, which evaluates quarterbacks’ success relative to league average in four facets of the game — rushing, passing, sack avoidance, and fumble avoidance — we’re highlighting each and every one of the 39 Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks with at least one qualified game for the organization since ’68. These rankings will be updated continuously and are accurate heading into Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks Nos. 39-11

Franchise RankQuarterbackQualified GamesTotal Yards Added
39Akili Smith18-1218.323
38David Klingler26-1117.701
37Jon Kitna51-1099.905
36Ryan Fitzpatrick12-864.676
35Andy Dalton137-661.662
34Scott Mitchell9-618.043
33Jack Thompson20-451.167
32Ryan Finley6-445.431
31John Reaves16-415.321
30Jeff Driskel6-363.337
29Gus Frerotte3-348.178
28Brandon Allen7-296.445
27John Stofa9-259.247
26A.J. McCarron7-193.115
25Wayne Clark2-165.996
24Donald Hollas7-131.605
23Jay Schroeder7-131.079
22Paul Justin4-113.102
21Erik Wilhelm11-105.648
20Dewey Warren7-98.656
19Eric Kresser1-84.132
18J.T. O’Sullivan1-82.508
17Bruce Gradkowski3-66.239
16Jordan Palmer1-61.671
15Ben Bennett1-43.996
14Jason Campbell3-43.732
13Adrian Breen1-32.369
12Dave Walter2-31.107
11Dave Lewis1-22.682

Keep in mind that this is about career production.

Playing in more games usually means moving further away from the league-average score of zero, which is why Andy Dalton — objectively not the least-talented of the Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks — falls nearly all the way to the bottom of the pack despite having a far superior per-game output to other low finishers such as Akili Smith, David Klinger, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

10. Neil O’Donnell

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Neil O’Donnell | Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport
  • Years: 1998
  • Stats: 2-9 record, 212-of-343 (61.8%), 2,216 yards, 15 TD, 4 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 112.95

Though Neil O’Donnell could only lift the Cincinnati Bengals to a 2-9 record as a starter during his lone season with the organization, perhaps the blame should lie elsewhere. Perhaps with a defense that allowed a league-worst 28.3 points per game instead of with a quarterback who threw 15 touchdowns to only four interceptions?

9. Turk Schonert

  • Years: 1981-85, 1987-89
  • Stats: 5-2 record, 216-of-350 (61.7%), 2,756 yards, 7 TD, 12 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 179.975

Except for the 1986 season, which he spent with the Atlanta Falcons, Turk Schonert spent his entire NFL career suiting up for the Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, he held a clipboard more than he did the pigskin as he made 64 appearances but only seven starts over those eight campaigns.

When Schonert did take the field, he tended to make good things happen. His inaccuracy led to the occasional interception, but he also pushed the ball down the field aggressively (sometimes against second-string defenses in blowout situations) and averaged 7.9 yards per passing attempt throughout his Bengals tenure.

8. Virgil Carter

  • Years: 1970-72
  • Stats: 12-10 record, 328-of-582 (56.4%), 3,850 yards, 22 TD, 20 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 294.878

Virgil Carter couldn’t have put together more different go-rounds as the starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals.

In 1970, he completed only 51.4% of his passes and played a conservative passing game, supplementing the aerial assault with 34 rushes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. A year later, he scrambled just eight times for 42 yards without finding the end zone, but he started to target downfield options more frequently, upped his yards per passing attempt by 1.4, and completed an NFL-high 62.2% of his throws.

7. Sam Wyche

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Sam Wyche | George Gelatly/Getty Images
  • Years: 1968-70
  • Stats: 2-7 record, 115-of-220 (52.3%), 1,743 yards, 12 TD, 8 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 479.603

After playing semi-professional football with the Wheeling Ironmen of the Continental Football League for two seasons, Sam Wyche joined the expansion Cincinnati Bengals and settled in as a backup to John Stofa and Dewey Warren. He started three games during each of his three seasons with the team, but his first and last outings are doing the heavy lifting in these rankings.

Wyche debuted in a 27-17 loss to the Houston Oilers, and he completed a staggering 20 of 25 passes for 228 yards and one touchdown. If that wasn’t enough, he ran four times for 22 yards and even managed to record a five-yard reception.

Not including mop-up duty in a playoff loss to the Baltimore Colts, Wyche’s last qualified appearance for Cincinnati came in a 45-7 beatdown of the Boston Patriots. He went 7-of-14 for 91 yards and two touchdowns while adding six carries for 63 yards and a third score.

6. Greg Cook

  • Years: 1969-73
  • Stats: 4-6-1 record, 107-of-200 (53.5%), 1,865 yards, 15 TD, 11 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 607.415

Greg Cook’s story is one of what might have been.

A local favorite thanks to his time with the Cincinnati Bearcats, the 6-foot-4 quarterback joined the Bengals as the No. 5 pick of the 1969 NFL Draft. He found immediate success despite playing for a struggling expansion squad, leading the NFL in yards per passing attempt (9.4) and quarterback rating (88.3) as he won AFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

But then everything fell apart.

Cook had missed three games after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jim Lynch tackled him and injured his throwing shoulder, and he didn’t realize until after the season that he had been playing through a torn rotator cuff. After three ineffective operations, which also brought to light a partially detached biceps muscle, Cook was forced into a premature retirement. He returned briefly in 1973 but only threw three passes and then hung up the cleats for good, making him one of the biggest what-ifs in the history of professional football.

5. Joe Burrow

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow | Andy Lyons/Getty Images
  • Years: 2020-present
  • Stats: 24-19-1 record, 1,085-of-1,602 (67.7%), 12,078 yards, 84 TD, 32 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 824.424

It’s impossible to throw enough superlatives at Joe Burrow at this early stage of his NFL career.

Even though he’s had to come back from a torn ACL that cut short his solid rookie season, he’s already made a Pro Bowl appearance, finished No. 4 in the 2023 MVP voting, and led the Bengals to the AFC Championship Game twice — a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs before dropping Super Bowl 56 to the Los Angeles Rams and then a defeat at the hands of Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs one year later.

Burrow isn’t going anywhere, either.

The 26-year-old is one of the NFL’s most talented passers, and he’s surrounded by an explosive set of offensive playmakers. He already has two top-15 seasons in the history of Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks, per TYA, but the best is probably yet to come.

4. Carson Palmer

  • Years: 2004-10
  • Stats: 45-51 record, 2,024-of-3,217 (62.9%), 22,694 yards, 154 TD, 100 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 990.668

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft, Carson Palmer had little trouble finding his sea legs after he left USC and joined the Bengals.

Sure, he went just 6-7 during his rookie season, throwing just as many touchdowns as interceptions (18). But he followed up that acclimation period by leading the NFL in completion percentage (67.8%) and touchdown passes (32) to finish fifth in the MVP voting during the 2005 season. One year later, he made the second of three career Pro Bowl appearances, though the third came a decade later with the Arizona Cardinals.

The October 2011 trade that sent Palmer to the Oakland Raiders brought back a 2012 first-rounder used on Dre Kirkpatrick and a 2013 second-rounder used on Giovani Bernard, but it also prevented Palmer from rising any higher on the franchise leaderboard.

3. Jeff Blake

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake | George Gojkovich/Getty Images
  • Years: 1994-99
  • Stats: 25-41 record, 1,240-of-2,221 (55.8%), 93 TD, 62 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 1,068.224

Team success isn’t a factor in these rankings, which focus solely on individual numbers produced by the Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks in question. And that’s good news for Jeff Blake, who went just 25-41 as a starter and failed to lead his squad to a single postseason appearance — or a record better than the 8-8 mark posted in 1996.

But Blake’s individual talent was never really in question even if he sometimes played too aggressively, failing to realize his bazooka arm and unmitigated confidence might not be the best traits to unleash when surrounded by lackluster playmakers (aside from Carl Pickens).

2. Boomer Esiason

  • Years: 1984-92
  • Stats: 62-61 record, 2,015-of-3,564 (56.5%), 27,149 yards, 187 TD, 131 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 3,468.976

Boomer Esiason thrived throughout his time in Cincinnati, but he was never better than during his MVP-winning 1988 campaign.

During that magical season, which featured a 12-4 record and a Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Esiason completed 57.5% of his passes for 3,572 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, pacing the league in yards per passing attempt (9.2) and fourth-quarter comebacks (three) before finishing ahead of Randall Cunningham and Roger Craig in a tight MVP race.

That season alone, Esiason earned 959.657 TYA, which would have landed him at No. 5 on this list had he never played a snap before or after. And, of course, it was far from his only stellar season with Cincy.

1. Ken Anderson

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson | Getty Images
Related Ranking All Chicago Bears Quarterbacks in Franchise History

Ranking All Chicago Bears Quarterbacks in Franchise History

  • Years: 1971-86
  • Stats: 91-81 record, 2,654-4,475 (59.3%), 32,838 yards, 197 TD, 160 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 6,167.403

Per TYA, the third-best season in Cincinnati Bengals history? Ken Anderson’s 1974 efforts (1,076.07) as he led the NFL with 2,667 passing yards and 8.1 yards per passing attempt, throwing 18 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Per TYA, the second-best season in Cincinnati Bengals history? Ken Anderson’s 1975 efforts (1,212.797) as he led the NFL in the same statistics (3,169 yards and 8.4 yards per attempt) while improving to 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Per TYA, the best season in Cincinnati Bengals history? Ken Anderson’s 1981 efforts (1,371.766) as he won MVP behind 3,754 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, and 10 picks for a 12-4 squad.

Anderson spent his entire career with the franchise, racking up plenty of organizational records during a 16-season stretch that featured four Pro Bowl appearances and just as many playoff berths. He’s essentially lapping the field here, and that will remain true unless Burrow just keeps producing at the same — or better — level for at least another half-decade.