So much has to go right for an NFL quarterback to be successful. They have to possess pinpoint accuracy, the ability to read a defense in milliseconds, be gifted with a tremendous physique, all while staying away from injuries. The one quality they don’t need to have is a certain age. There are good quarterbacks who have played a long time and some who haven’t played long at all.
Great quarterbacks can come in many shapes, sizes, and ages. Currently, there’s a 20-year age difference between the league’s oldest and youngest starting quarterbacks. Let’s take a look at who they are and how they stack up.
The NFL’s oldest quarterback
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots isn’t just one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. He’s also the league’s oldest quarterback, defying Father Time at 42 years young. Here’s a sampling of Brady’s impressive achievements during his time as an NFL quarterback:
- Win-loss record of 215-61
- Completed 64.1% of his passes
- 73,050 yards passing
- 531 touchdowns
- 176 interceptions
- Six-time Super Bowl champion
- 14-time Pro Bowl selection
- Three-time All-Pro
- 2007 and 2010 Offensive Player of the Year
- Only quarterback to win six Super Bowls and lead a team to an undefeated regular season since the league switched to a 16-games schedule (2007)
In the past, Brady expressed a desire to play until the age of 45. That’s old news, however. Now Brady wants to play even longer:
Brady’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero said on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show that the six-time Super Bowl Champion and three-time MVP has recently said that he anticipates playing in the NFL until he’s at least “46 or 47” years old.
“No one thought you could play at the elite level in your late 30s, early 40s. That is something we always felt we could do. I have really wanted to be there to help him accomplish that goal. I certainly do believe that 45 is a very realistic goal,” Guerrero said, regarding the age that Brady, now 42, has previously committed to playing until.
If anyone can do it, Brady can. While he isn’t quite the quarterback he once was, he still plays at an incredibly high level. The big question is whether he does this as a member of the Patriots or with another team.
The NFL’s youngest quarterback
Sam Darnold of the New York Jets is the league’s youngest starter at 22. He was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2018 out of the University of Southern California. Here are his numbers so far in only his second season:
- Win-loss record of 6-13
- Completed 59.5% of his passes
- 4,172 yards passing
- 24 touchdowns
- 24 interceptions
Darnold’s shown plenty of promise, but unfortunately, the Jets have not. He looks to be stuck on one of the NFL’s most talent-starved teams.
Comparing the careers of the oldest and youngest quarterback
Pro Football Reference has a feature that allows you to compare football players at similar positions during similar seasons of their careers. Here’s what a comparison of Brady and Darnold’s first two seasons turned up. Because Darnold’s isn’t complete, let’s take a look at their averages as opposed to totals:
- Completions: Darnold 368, Brady 265
- Touchdowns: Darnold 24, Brady 18
- Quarterback rating: Brady 76.6, Darnold 86.1
- Interceptions: Brady 12, Darnold 24
- Completion percentage: Brady 63.7, Darnold 59.5
The verdict? Darnold matches up fairly well against Brady. One caveat: Brady didn’t really explode statistically until 2007, before that being more of a game manager for the Pats. And Darnold has a long way to go to be even close to Brady. But the potential is there.