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If you’re in the club of Denver Broncos quarterbacks, then you might as well accept that you’re looking up at Peyton Manning and John Elway on the all-time leaderboard.

Few NFL organizations are lucky enough to have boasted the services of two legendary signal-callers, and it’s not like the list of Broncos standouts ends there. From Jay Cutler and Brian Griese to Charley Johnson and Norris Weese, the Mile High City residents have featured talent under center for much of their playing days.

Denver opened its franchise history as part of the AFL in 1960 with Frank Tripucka going 10-of-15 for 180 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a 13-10 victory over the Boston Patriots. Since then, 59 more men have taken snaps in a qualified game, combining to make 16 Pro Bowl appearances.

Russell Wilson hasn’t added to the total yet, but he’s striving to go from financial liability to game-changing franchise quarterback now that he’s gotten his sea legs under him and is operating with a new coach calling the shots.

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 60 Denver Broncos quarterbacks with at least one qualified game for the organization since ’60. These rankings will be updated continuously and are accurate heading into Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season.

Denver Broncos quarterbacks Nos. 60-11

Franchise RankQuarterbackQualified GamesTotal Yards Added
60Frank Tripucka40-2,006.705
59John McCormick25-1,367.574
58Mickey Slaughter30-1,040.426
57Trevor Siemian25-759.307
56Steve Tensi37-656.418
55Drew Lock24-571.973
54Case Keenum16-551.318
53Brett Rypien6-467
52Jacky Lee14-456.495
51Matt Robinson8-425.091
50Don Horn9-387.67
49Paxton Lynch5-347.769
48Craig Penrose10-347.173
47John Hufnagel6-345.635
46Brock Osweiler15-332.516
45Tommy Maddox7-327.825
44Alan Pastrana5-324.664
43Joe Flacco8-320.327
42George Shaw7-311.59
41Pete Liske16-309.418
40Gary Kubiak21-284.96
39Max Choboian7-279.275
38Danny Kanell4-254.016
37Steve Beuerlein7-211.724
36Steve DeBerg25-178.573
35Jeff Driskel2-172.724
34Steve Ramsey45-158.349
33Brandon Allen3-147.276
32Bill Musgrave4-145.673
31Chris Simms1-140.344
30Jim LeClair7-130.802
29Shawn Moore2-125.323
28Russell Wilson16-97.222
27Scott Stankavage1-95.504
26Mark Herrmann2-81.596
25Jarious Jackson3-77.13
24Jeff Lewis1-54.595
23Tobin Rote1-50.074
22Bradlee Van Pelt1-46.305
21Hugh Millen7-44.295
20Patrick Ramsey1-43.225
19Don Breaux7-23.785
18Joe DiVito1-17.975
17Ken Karcher4-0.663
16Tim Tebow177.813
15Chris Miller317.367
14Scotty Glacken140.926
13Bubby Brister8109.189
12Teddy Bridgewater14150.699
11Gus Frerotte12194.865

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. The rankings themselves are indications of both talent and opportunity.

10. Marlin Briscoe

  • Years: 1968
  • Stats: 2-3 record, 93-of-224 (41.5%), 1,589 yards, 14 TD, 13 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 232.071

Marlin Briscoe, an undersized option at 5-foot-10, joined the Denver Broncos as a 14th-round draft pick and was supposed to transition from quarterback to cornerback. Instead, he got a chance to function as a signal-caller after Steve Tensi broke his collarbone and Joe DiVito failed to impress.

He became the first Black quarterback to start in the AFL and put together an impressive rookie season. But when the Broncos decided to go a different direction in 1969, Briscoe requested to be released and ended up with the Buffalo Bills, where he became a Pro Bowl wide receiver.

9. Norris Weese

Denver Broncos quarterback Norris Weese | George Gojkovich/Getty Images
  • Years: 1976-79
  • Stats: 5-2 record, 143-of-251 (57.0%), 1,887 yards, 7 TD, 14 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 248.574

After replacing Archie Manning at Ole Miss, Norris Weese spent the 1974 season in the World Football League before making his way to the Denver Broncos. He functioned largely as a backup quarterback but saw action in Super Bowl 12 after Craig Morton threw four interceptions and nearly tossed a fifth.

Weese, a threat with both his arm and his legs, became the starter in 1979, but a knee injury prevented him from running with the role and forced him out of the league.

8. Kyle Orton

  • Years: 2009-11
  • Stats: 12-21 record, 720-of-1,194 (60.3%), 8,434 yards, 49 TD, 28 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 500.862

Kyle Orton was never the most glamorous option under center, but he was steadily effective during his three-season tenure in the Mile High City. Though he wasn’t particularly mobile and took too many sacks, he tended to hit his targets and push the ball down the field when necessary.

Orton’s best season came in 2010 despite the team’s 3-10 record, which can be blamed largely on a league-worst scoring defense. The Purdue product threw 20 touchdowns and only nine interceptions that year, giving him a career-best 87.5 quarterback rating.

7. Brian Griese

Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese | Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images
  • Years: 1998-2002
  • Stats: 27-24 record, 1.044-of-1,678 (62.2%), 11,763 yards, 71 TD, 53 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 523.337

Without the 2000 season, Brian Griese’s career as one of the Denver Broncos quarterbacks would have earned a decisively negative grade. He earned 895.946 TYA that year alone, so his score for the remaining four campaigns was just -372.609 — sandwiched between Don Horn and Paxton Lynch far closer to the bottom of the pecking order.

But Griese was special in 2000, earning his lone Pro Bowl appearance as he completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 19 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. He steered Denver to a 7-3 record in his 10 starts while pacing the NFL in interception percentage (1.2%) and quarterback rating (102.9).

6. Charley Johnson

  • Years: 1972-75
  • Stats: 20-18-3 record, 517-of-970 (53.3%), 7,238 yards, 52 TD, 52 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 831.502

A Denver Broncos Ring of Honor member, Charley Johnson didn’t land with the organization until the end of his NFL career. He’d already played 11 seasons and joined the club for his age-34 campaign, but he could still get the proverbial job done.

Of course, that job included significant statistics that couldn’t quite carry the Broncos into playoff contention. Johnson made 41 starts for Denver and threw as many touchdowns as interceptions while picking up yards in chunks — including a league-best 8.1 yards per passing attempt in ’74 — but he never made a postseason appearance.

5. Jay Cutler

Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler | Rich Gabrielson/NFLPhotoLibrary
  • Years: 2006-08
  • Stats: 17-20 record, 762-of-1,220 (62.5%), 9,024 yards, 54 TD, 37 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 1,079.682

Jay Cutler immediately broke onto the NFL scene as a gunslinging quarterback out of Vanderbilt, making five starts during his rookie season in 2006 before becoming the entrenched starter for each of the next two go-rounds.

But after the No. 11 pick of the 2006 NFL Draft made his first (and only) Pro Bowl appearance in 2008, the Broncos chose to trade him and a fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft to the Chicago Bears for a 2009 first-rounder (used on Robert Ayers), a 2009 third-rounder that was subsequently traded, a 2010 first-round pick that was also dealt, and Kyle Orton.

4. Jake Plummer

  • Years: 2003-06
  • Stats: 39-15 record, 944-of-1,596 (59.1%), 11,631 yards, 71 TD, 47 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 1,433.843

After spending six years with the Arizona Cardinals, Jake Plummer joined the ranks of starting Denver Broncos quarterbacks and found plenty of success during the closing stretch of his career. Perhaps more notable than his Pro Bowl season in 2005 is the fact that the Broncos made the playoffs during each of his first three seasons in charge, advancing as far as the AFC Championship Game.

Plummer fell firmly into great-not-elite territory during that three-year stretch before his performance level dipped in the ’06 campaign. But that alone pushed him to a four-digit score with the franchise and secured a spot within the top five.

3. Craig Morton

Denver Broncos quarterback Craig Morton | Focus on Sport/Getty Images
  • Years: 1977-82
  • Stats: 41-23 record, 907-of-1,594 (56.9%), 11,895 yards, 74 TD, 65 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 1574.482

Joining the squad for his age-34 season didn’t prevent Craig Morton — far better known for his time with the Dallas Cowboys — from ascending above nearly all Denver Broncos quarterbacks. And it’s all thanks to two seasons.

In 1977, Morton finished second to Walter Payton in AP MVP voting after throwing for 1,929 yards, 14 touchdowns, and eight interceptions during a 12-2 campaign. Four years later, he recorded 3,195 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 14 picks while going 10-5. That time, he finished fourth in the voting, behind Ken Anderson, Joe Montana, and Tony Dorsett.

2. Peyton Manning

  • Years: 2012-15
  • Stats: 45-12 record, 1,443-of-2,170 (66.5%), 17,112 yards, 140 TD, 53 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 3,059.806

Neck injury? What neck injury?

One year after sitting out the 2011 season, Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts for the Denver Broncos and immediately embarked upon one of the most historic runs in NFL history.

First came a 2012 season in which he finished second in the MVP voting. Then he won the award as a 37-year-old one season later behind an eye-popping 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He followed that up with yet another Pro Bowl campaign — his 14th — in 2014 before winning a Super Bowl and retiring on top in ’15.

By TYA, Manning has the two best seasons among all Denver Broncos quarterbacks, and his 2013 efforts rank seventh in NFL history.

1. John Elway

Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway | Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images
Related Ranking All Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks in Franchise History

Ranking All Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks in Franchise History

  • Years: 1983-98
  • Stats: 148-82-1 record, 4,123-of-7,250 (56.9%), 51,475 yards, 300 TD, 226 INT
  • Total Yards Added: 4,496.158

John Elway’s resume is unbesmirchable.

Though his peak wasn’t quite as lofty as Peyton Manning’s, he spent his entire career in the Mile High City and almost always played at a high level. He has three times the career passing yards of Manning, who sits in second place on the franchise leaderboard. No one has even half of his 300 passing touchdowns. He’s been the quarterback of record in three times as many victories as anyone else. The list goes on and on.

Oh, and that’s before factoring in his 3,407 yards on the ground and 33 rushing touchdowns.

Elway is a true franchise icon as a two-time Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer who only wore a single jersey. From his helicopter spin into the Super Bowl end zone to his hard-throwing passing heroics, he left an indelible mark on the Broncos organization while ensuring that his perch atop the leaderboard won’t be challenged for quite some time — if ever.