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The 11 Worst NFL Quarterback Personnel Decisions

One of the major story lines from the first week of the 2010 NFL season was the QB match-up between the Eagles’ Kevin Kolb against the Packers’ Aaron Rogers.

Both players were drafted by teams with accomplished quarterbacks, and because so, were forced to sit on the bench until their era began. For Green Bay it was a no brainier. Brett Favre was getting a bit too old, time for the new kid in town. As for the Eagles, well, their sending Donovan McNabb to division rival Washington Redskins could go down as one of the worst moves in NFL history.

So far, giving the reins to Rogers is working out for the Pack, even if the old man took their bitter rivals to the NFC Championship last year. Kolb, on the other hand, looked unimpressive before getting a concussion. While in DC, McNabb and the Skins were victorious against the over-hyped Cowboys.

It will only be a matter of time before we actually see if these quarterback decisions are successful or tragic, but here’s 11 that were definitely the latter.

11. The Bills Trade Picks for J.P. Losman

Buffalo actually traded their 2nd round pick in the 2004 Draft to Dallas for one J.P. Losman. He was the fourth QB selected in the 1st round, behind other crummy players like Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Instead of trading up for any of those three, they went with J.P. Even if they didn’t draft Losman they still had a shot with running back Steven Jackson. After his contract was up with the Bills in 2008, Losman jumped ship to the UFL, where he took the Vegas Locomotives to the inaugural championship in 2009. Since then, he has been cut by the Raiders and Seahawks.

10. Lions Draft Joey Harrington

To be fair, the 2002 Draft wasn’t the richest quarterback class. Maybe the Lions should have just waited another year before selecting Joey Harrington as the third overall pick. Detroit could have traded down and still have gotten future Pro-bowlers like Dwight Freeney, Albert Haynesworth, Jeremy Shockey, Javon Walker or Ed Reed. Yikes.

Instead, they get Joey Harrington for a couple of seasons, which most likely played a factor in the firing of head coach Steve Mariucci. Harrington then went to Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans for the next three seasons before throwing in the towel and becoming a broadcaster in Oregon.

9. The Colts Gamble on Art Schlichter

Indy used the fourth overall pick in the 1982 Draft for this gem. The biggest problem with Art wasn’t his talent, but his gambling addiction. During the 1982 strike, for example, he lost $700,000 from gambling debts. Things got so bad for Artie that his life was threatened by bookies, and, his only decision was to rat them out to the feds.

He was suspended by the league and subsequently cut by the Colts because of his gambling problem. After all that, Schlichter didn’t learn the lesson. Professionally, he was released by Buffalo before brief stints in the CFL and AFL. From 1995 to 2006 he served various amounts of jail time for fraud and forgery. He currently lives in Ohio with his mom.

8. Chargers Go With Philip Rivers

This isn’t a knock at Philip Rivers. He’s a a great player with a great future. The reason he’s on the list is because of how he got the gig. In the 2004 Draft, San Diego picked Eli Manning first overall. Eli cried, so the Bolts traded him to the Giants for Philip Rivers. The problem is that the Chargers already had a quarterback named Drew Brees.

Instead of sticking with what they had, and drafting someone like Larry Fitzgerald, the Chargers would eventually let Brees go and have Rivers take over. Since then, Eli Manning has a won a Super Bowl with the Giants. Drew Brees not only won a Super Bowl the Saints, he was also named Super Bowl MVP.

7. Bengals Draft Akili Smith

Cincy, for reasons unknown, refused to accept a trade with the Saints that would have given them nine draft picks in the 1999 and 2000 Drafts so that New Orleans could secure Ricky Williams. Instead, they stuck with their third overall pick and drafted Akili Smith, who only had one successful year in college.

Smith only started 17 games and was released in 2002. He failed to become Favre’s back-up in Green Bay in 2003. He also missed out on a job in Tampa Bay, which resulted in him going overseas to join the Frankfurt Galaxy. He ended his career in the CFL after one season. He’s now a preacher and is working on Cal’s football staff as a graduate assistant for the offense.

6. Colts Trade John Elway to Denver

John Elway wasn’t enthusiastic to be drafted first overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1983. If he wasn’t traded, he would play baseball instead. The Colts caved in and traded Elway to the Broncos for several forgettable players. Elway went on to have a pretty solid NFL career in Denver.

He made the All-Pro team five times, the Pro-Bowl nine times, won MVP in 1987 and lead the Broncos to two Super Bowl victories. Meanwhile, the Colts sneaked their struggling franchise out of Baltimore to Indy until some guy named Peyton turned things around.

5. Raiders Pay JaMarcus Russell

Russell was said to be “hard to pass up” as the first pick during the 2007 Draft. The Raiders agreed. After holding out for training camp, the two sides reached a deal. A six-year deal worth up to $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed.

However, by the end of the 2009 season, it was clear that Russell wasn’t working out in Oakland. Russell ended his tenure in Oakland with some of the worst QB stats in the league. His motivation, and codeine incident, make many wonder if he will ever get another chance in the NFL. Even if he does, the Raiders wasted on a big chunk of change on him.

4. Bucs Trade Steve Young to the 49ers

Perhaps the defunct USFL Los Angeles Express knew something the NFL didn’t about Steve Young when they signed him to a record ten year contract worth $40 million in 1984 (he’ll remain getting payments from this deal until 2027). When the 1984 supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL players came around, it wasn’t a shocker that Young was the first overall pick. However, the marriage between Young and the Tampa Bay Bucs was anything but perfect.

After two seasons he only threw for eleven touchdowns and had twenty-one picks. Believing that he was a bust, the Bucs drafted Vinny Testaverde in 1987 and traded Young to San Fransisco for 2nd and 4th round picks. For the next three seasons Young was the backup for the one and only Joe Montana. But, when Montana suffered an elbow injury in 1991, Young became the starter.

From that point one the Niners were his team, which included a Super Bowl victory in 1994. With numerous records, which include the highest passer rating in a career and most rushing TDs by a QB, it was only natural that he would get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

3. Chargers Trade Up for Ryan Leaf

There was a debate going into the 1998 Draft on who the top quarterback prospect would be. It came down to Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. The Colts wisely selected Manning with the first overall selection. The Chargers used the third overall pick for Leaf, which they traded two fist round picks, a second round pick and Pro Bowler Eric Metcalf to Arizona to move up.

San Diego had so much faith in Leaf that they signed him to a four year contract at $31.25 million, including over $11 million guaranteed. This was the largest signing bonus ever rewarded to a rookie at the time. As we all know, Leaf didn’t pan out for the Chargers. He was waived by the team in 2000 and went on to have failed comebacks in Tampa, Dallas, and Seattle. After his retirement, Leaf ran into legal problems, like drugs and burglary charges, which he’s currently serving a ten year probation for.

2. Falcons Trade Brett Favre to Packers

Hindsight is always 20/20. With that in mind, it’s hard to believe that the legendary Brett Favre went 33rd overall in the 1991 Draft to the Falcons. Matter of fact, Atlanta head coach Jerry Glanville never approved of the pick. He even said that it would take a plane crash for him to put Favre into a game. Packers GM Ron Wolf wanted Favre, however. During the offseason Green Bay traded their first round pick, RB Tony Smith, to Atlanta for Favre.

We all pretty much know how that went. Just imagine if he remained a Falcon. Maybe the Lombardi Trophy could have been theirs. Maybe they never would have never drafted Michael Vick in 2001 and wouldn’t have had to put up with that mess.

1. Steelers Cut Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. His record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games has yet to be broken. And just think, he was actually cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955. Head coach Walt Kiesling stubbornly believed that Unitas was not smart enough to quarterback a NFL team.

Kiesling was so sure about this that he never even let Unitas take a snap with the team. Unitas went down to Baltimore and pretty much set the bar for future quarterbacks. To make matters worse, Unitas was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and, wanted to play for his hometown team. It’s even rumored that Art Rooney’s kids told their dad that Unitas was the best QB at camp that year. If true, he should have listened.

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  1. l like Brett Favre very much . he is the best player in Minnesota Vikings

  2. I still can not believe Michael is gone. Always really liked his artistic style. He really was a great musician. Thanks for this, brought me back remembering him.