There are many things to take into account, and we’ve made a list of players who weren’t just lousy—they were notably bad.
Browning Nagle - New York Jets
Browning Nagle replaced Ken O’Brien, a fan-favorite, much to every Jets fan's dismay. What followed was a very dark time for the team, who’d originally given Nagle the starting role due to his impressive arm strength.
But that’s something that didn’t seem to come through in the way he played with the pros – especially when you consider all of the mistakes and impatience that we’ve seen from him over the years. He threw 17 interceptions in the thirteen games he started, of which he only led his team to three victories.
Vinny Testaverde - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vinny Testaverde managed to throw more than 60 interceptions during his first three seasons playing professional ball with the NFL, which was even more disappointing to his team, considering he’d won the Heisman Trophy just years before.
He played for seven teams during his time in the league, including the Browns, Jets, Ravens, Cowboys, and Patriots. And, even though he wasn’t the worst by any means on any of the teams, he certainly wasn’t one of their best, either.
Jimmy Clausen - Carolina Panthers
Jimmy Clausen was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2010. During his five years in the NFL, he also played with the Bears and the Ravens. He had a promising career ahead of him when he first entered the league from school, where he’d never lost a game he started.
Everyone expected that he would be amazing, but he was benched during his fifth week in the league after only completing 47 percent of his passes, which included just one touchdown compared to three interceptions.
Bucky Dilts - Denver Broncos
Bucky Dilts held a career as a punter in the NFL for three years. He was first signed to the Denver Broncos in 1977, with whom he played for two years, the best of which was his rookie year when he averaged 39.2 yards per each punt.
Still, those punts have been compared to “dying quails,” which can’t be a good thing no matter how you spin it. He spent his last year playing for the Baltimore Colts, after which he retired and went into marketing.
Kit Lathrop - Denver Broncos
Kit Lathrop was a defensive lineman for several NFL teams, along with spending time with the USFL. Though he earned a Super Bowl ring while he was with the Washington Redskins in 1987, it wasn’t because of anything spectacular on his end.
He pretty much flew (way) under the radar during the entirety of his NFL career, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that he was just not good.
Rick Norton - Miami Dolphins
It’s got to sting as a quarterback when you’re incapable of leading your team to a single victory in three seasons with the NFL, but that’s exactly what happened in the case of Rick Norton and his time with the Miami Dolphins. At the end of his career, he’d wind up with an embarrassing 1-10 record.
To throw a little salt in the wound, as soon as he left the team, they went on a massive winning streak, winning two consecutive Super Bowls with their new QB.
Akili Smith - Cincinnati Bengals
Akili Smith didn’t appear to be very promising from the time he took the NFL’s Wonderlic exam in 1998, on which he only scored a 16 out of 50. He re-tried the next year, hopeful he’d be scouted and pulled off a 37.
Still, after the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him, he didn’t seem quite to get the hang of things. Smith never really fit in with the team and couldn’t understand their playbook. In the 17 games he started with the Bengals over his four years with the team, he threw five touchdowns to 13 interceptions.
Chad Cascadden - NY Jets
Chad Cascadden held a linebacker role with the NY Jets for four years during the late 1990s.
Throughout the entirety of his career, he scored one touchdown, which happened when he recovered a fumble in the 1998 game against Miami, being led by Dan Marino. This moment pretty much sums up the wins while he was with the NFL.
Chad Hutchinson - Dallas Cowboys
This is another case of a player that’s not completely awful, but he’s just also not very good, either. Hutchinson is a former pitcher in the Major League Baseball league for St. Louis’ Cardinals. He’s been playing football since college, and he seemed like a promising choice thanks to plenty of arm strength and agility.
But those talents just didn’t manifest through his professional work in the NFL, unfortunately. Like so many others on our list, he was benched by his team and traded up for someone else.
Spergon Wynn - Minnesota Vikings
The Cleveland Browns first drafted Spergon Wynn back in 2000, when he graduated from Southwest Texas State. But he didn’t deliver what the Browns had hoped he might, and after playing out a season, they decided to let him go.
Afterward, he got picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, though he wasn’t exactly a star player with them, either. Wynn only started two games for MN, and during those two games, he threw six interceptions. Needless to say, he didn’t lead the team to victory.
Billy Joe Tolliver - Tennessee Titans
This former Titans QB wasn’t winning any awards for his time with the team, but he still wasn’t as bad as when he played with the Oilers, where he went on to amass a record of zero wins to seven losses.
He threw seven interceptions over that time compared to six touchdown passes, not a record that’s going be posted up in the hall of fame anytime soon. Tolliver’s pro career ended in 2001 when he retired while working with the Saints, who were at 3-13.
Steve Pisarkiewicz - Arizona Cardinals
This former QB played throughout many leagues during his career, including the USFL, British League, CFL, and NFL. Scouts considered him the best passer on his college team, which is what caught the attention of league pros.
Unfortunately, he would fail to impress once he made it onto the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1977 draft. He went on to start just four games during his time with the team.
Anthony Davis- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When you come out of the gate swinging, telling people that you’ll be better than Archie Griffin before you ever play your first pro game, you’d better be able to back it up – which is something Anthony Davis didn’t do.
But he did become the first player to piss off coaches in four different football leagues.
Jamarcus Russell - Oakland Raiders
How exactly does one go from top overall pick in the draft to a total bust overnight? We could probably just ask former Raiders QB, Jamarcus Russell.
Russell entered the NFL in 2007 as a promising player but quickly disappointed those who were seeking something more from him. Unfortunately, Russell was arrested and released by the team three years later in 2010.
Frank Tripucka - Denver Broncos
The late Frank Tripucka was a great player in college, where he was a three-time letter-winner at his alma mater, Notre Dame.
But after going on to get drafted by the Eagles in 1949, he was traded pretty much immediately to the Detroit Lions. During his rookie season, he only started four times, and he threw for 14 interceptions as opposed to nine touchdowns.
Alex Van Pelt - Buffalo Bills
You may recognize Alex Van Pelt as the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns or assistant coach for several NFL teams.
But long before he worked as a coach, Van Pelt played for several years in the league. Out of the eleven games he started over the course of his career, he won just three of them.
Dan Pastorini - Los Angeles Rams
Dan Pastorini was a one-hit-wonder; in a sense, everyone wondered what on earth he was doing after he hit the LA Rams field. The quarterback didn’t stick around for long, just one season, during which time he threw a whopping 14 interceptions versus just two touchdown passes.
Luckily, Pastorini was also a drag racer, and he earned many national victories when it came to driving.
Joey Harrington - Detroit Lions
Pro football fans can collectively agree that Joey Harrington’s career with the Detroit Lions was underwhelming, to say the least. In fact, the term “bust” has been used throughout several sources. “The four years I spent there absolutely crushed me,” he said of his time with the team. “By the time I left, I was a shell of the player I once was.”
Aside from his time in Michigan, he played for the Saints, Falcons, and Dolphins. He was put in as a backup for Daunte Culpepper in 2006 after an injury forced him to the sidelines with the Dolphins.
Ryan Lindley - Arizona Cardinals
Ryan Lindley first appeared in the NFL in 2012, and it wasn’t until several years later in 2014 when he threw his first touchdown pass. Of course, that same year, he was called out by Field Gulls for having the “worst-ever game by a quarterback.” Ouch!
Still, they weren’t wrong because Lindley, compared to others in the league, just isn’t very good. Throughout his four seasons playing pro ball, he threw 14 interceptions compared to just four touchdowns.
Michael Booker - Atlanta Falcons
When Atlanta used their 11th draft pick in 1997 to nab cornerback Michael Booker, they probably had no idea that he didn’t care much about the game – at all. It would turn out to be a decision they’d come to regret, or maybe not think much about at all.
He went on to become a forgettable, mediocre player, which was hardly worth the $2.2 million-dollar signing bonus he got to come aboard.
Bob Avellini - Chicago Bears
Bob Avellini spent most of his NFL career with the Chicago Bears in the 1970s. After playing ball at the University of Maryland, he was Chicago’s sixth-round selection. He started four games and threw six touchdown passes to eleven interceptions.
But in 1978, he threw a whopping 16 interceptions. Neill Armstrong, who was the coach at the time, made the executive decision to bench him and put alternate QB Mike Phipps in instead.
Glenn Foley - NY Jets
Glenn Foley played as QB with the NY Jets from 1994 to 1998. After a promising college ball career, execs were hopeful he’d help lead the team to victory. But he would wind up throwing just ten touchdowns and 14 interceptions during his time with the team.
He was traded to Seattle in 1999 after injuries forced him out of his starting position and led to Vinny Testaverde taking over at the helms.
George Izo - Arizona Cardinals
In 1960, head honchos at the St. Louis Cardinals were giddy with excitement in thinking they were locking down a solid new QB, who was the number two pick in the draft that year.
But what they got instead was someone who never managed to throw more touchdowns than he did interceptions.
Bobby Hoying - Philadelphia Eagles
Bobby Hoying was another player who showed a lot of promise when he was drafted to the league in 1996. The following year, he played well in two of them, but it was too little too late, as he’d pretty much-been bunk for his entire first season. Finally, the coach benched him in favor of Andy Reid.
Throughout Hoying’s career with the Eagles, he didn’t throw for a single touchdown, but he did make sure to throw for nine interceptions.
Freddie Mitchell - Philadelphia Eagles
Freddie Mitchell, though not the absolute worst receiver in the history of the NFL, was another case of someone who talked way too much trash, without much of a good reason to.
“All he does is talk; he’s terrible,” head coach Bill Belichick said of him after the Patriots victory over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Mike Taliaferro - New England Patriots
Things weren’t all bad with New England Patriots QB Mike Taliaferro, who played on the team for two years from 1968 to 1970. He was no Tom Brady, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on whether or not you live in New England.
But, there’s still no denying that he only led his team to win eight out of 25 of the games he started with them back when they were still operating as the Boston Patriots.
Dave Brown - New York Giants
Some say that Dave Brown was the worst QB to ever play for the NY Giants, while others argue that he wasn’t really even a number one draft pick when he was drafted in the early 1990s.
Afterward, it didn’t seem as though there was a light at the end of the long tunnel of injuries and poor playing on his end. In 1994, he won the starting job, but in 1996, the Giants only won 11 games over two seasons and finished statistically worst in the NFL that year.
Troy Williamson - Minnesota Vikings
Wide receiver Troy Williamson was welcomed onto the Minnesota Vikings as the number seven pick in the 2005 draft. They were excited to get their hands on him because of how incredibly fast he was, but his own hands literally dropped the ball – again and again.
After dropping it more than ten times, he claimed poor depth perception was responsible. In any case, he fully deserves his spot on our list.
Kyle Boller - Baltimore Ravens
Kyle Boller got drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 2003 draft. Before coming to the NFL, he’d earned California State Player of the Year at his school in 1998. He impressed scouts with his arm strength, but that’s pretty much all he had going for him.
He scored just seven touchdowns yet had nine interceptions during his career with Baltimore. He and the Ravens cut ties in 2008, and he tried to come back as a backup with the St. Louis Rams, and then again with the Raiders in 2010. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t continue playing and retired in 2012.
Eric Ghiaciuc - Cincinnati Bengals
When center Eric Ghiaciuc played his role for the Cincinnati Bengals, he wasn’t working with very much of a team. At least, the offensive line was awful, so it wasn’t entirely his fault that the Bengals went 19-28-1 during his three years starting.
He’s played for many other teams, but it never seems to work out for him. He signed with the Miami Dolphins in November of 2010 and was released just one month later.
Ahmad Carroll - NY Jets
NFL cornerbacks who talk trash aren’t anything special; in fact, it’s pretty much expected in most cases. Still, if you’re going to hype yourself up with trash talk, shouldn’t it be because you know you’re good enough to “walk the walk?”
In Ahmad Carroll’s case, this just wasn’t it. The 2004 first-round pick turned out to be a bad decision on behalf of the Jets.
Paxton Lynch - Denver Broncos
Nowadays, Paxton Lynch is a free agent. In 2016, he was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos. He lacked consistency, something he admitted himself in one interview with ESPN, and sometimes played okay, and at other times, dropped the ball entirely, so to speak.
He lost the starting spot on numerous occasions to Trevor Siemian, thanks to a bad track record with interceptions and sacks. Two years after his start with the team, Denver waived him after being unable to trade him as they’d hoped.
Ryan Leaf - Los Angeles Chargers
This image is a perfect summation of Ryan Leaf’s sad history with the LA Chargers. Pretty much immediately after being drafted in 1998, it was easy to see he wasn’t cut out for the role.
Throughout his time with the Chargers, he threw 18 interceptions compared to just eleven touchdowns and only completed 45% of his passes. By 2001, they’d had enough, and he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys, where, while he wasn’t a complete disaster, he also wasn’t very good.
Mark Malone - Pittsburgh Steelers
In 1980, Mark Malone was a first-round draft pick for the Steelers, thanks to his stellar work throughout his career as a college player. But a series of unfortunate events would derail the bright future he and others once foresaw.
Despite the fact he has one okay season, it wasn’t enough to outshine everything that made him terrible for the NFL. By the time he left the team, he’d helped drag them down to their lowest record in a decade and a half.
Steve Spurrier - San Francisco 49ers
Steve Spurrier may have an alright record as a coach, but when you take a look back at his days as a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, things weren’t operating so smoothly for him.
He’d shown a ton of promise in his college ball days and even taken home the 1966 Heisman Trophy, but the skills just didn’t translate to his time on the field. The following year was when he was drafted into the NFL and started his coaching career in the 80s after his retirement as a player.
Neil O’Donnell - New York Jets
While former NY Jets QB Neil O’Donnell may not be the worst in the team’s history, he most definitely wasn’t on the opposite end of that spectrum, either. At the start of his season, he went 0-5, which was especially upsetting considering the amount of hype he’d come along with when he was first drafted.
And of course, no one will forget the two interceptions he threw to Larry Brown that resulted in the loss of Super Bowl XXX.
Larry Brown - Dallas Cowboys
Somehow, a 12th-round pick from Texas Christian, Larry Brown, managed to finagle his way into the starting cornerback position with the Dallas Cowboys for five years.
He continued to display his lack of confidence, speed, and hands throughout his time on the field. Still, he lucked out again during Super Bowl XXX, thanks to Neil O’Donnell.
Erik McMillan - NY Jets
You can take your pick of the reasons why Erik McMillan’s made our list of not-so-hot NFL players. He may have been a two-time Pro Bowler, but he seemed to spend the majority of his time on the field laying low and waiting for the ball to come in his direction.
When it came to tackling and covering – he was no help to his team. Once this became apparent with the Jets, Browns, Eagles, and Chiefs, he was gone.
Ralph Guglielmi - Washington Redskins
Check out any list of the worst-ranked quarterbacks in each NFL team’s history, and nine times out of ten, Ralph Guglielmi will pop up as the worst QB for the Washington Redskins, which is unfortunate considering how great of a player he was during his college years.
He finished out his rookie year with a 3-0 record but went on to go 2-12-3 as QB. His time in Washington has been compared to a bad choice of elected officials.
David Carr - Houston Texans
David Carr was sacked nearly 50 times during the 2004 NFL season, which set a record for the league's highest total. During his five years with the Houston Texans, he was one off from being sacked 250 times.
They should’ve recognized they were in trouble when he fumbled the ball 12 times as a rookie, which is pretty insane considering he got a $10 million signing bonus when he joined the team. Finally, the Texans had enough of his shenanigans, and they traded him off for Matt Schaub.
Heath Shuler - New Orleans Saints
Last year, the Washington Post released an article that they called, “25 years ago, the Redskins picked the wrong QB,” and boy, were they right. Shuler was drafted onto the team in 1994, where he played just terribly.
Like so many quarterbacks on the list, he showed signs of promise as a great college player, but when he got to the pros, he dropped the ball. Unfortunately, Shuler’s career in the NFL turned into a joke, and he’s widely regarded as one of the worst QBs in the history of the league.
Todd Blackledge - Kansas City Chiefs
Similar to many names on our list, there were high hopes for quarterback Todd Blackledge when he was drafted by the Chiefs in 1983. So high, in fact, that he was picked before the (future) legendary football star, Dan Marino. But those hopes were squashed, and he slid into the background as a “meh” player.
During his time with Kansas, he threw for 32 interceptions against 26 touchdowns and started no more than eight games per season. Amazingly, he got out with a 13-11 record, but he’s still considered the team’s worst QB.
Curtis Painter - Indianapolis Colts
No one was going to be beloved coming in to replace legendary Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning, and Kerry Collins was handling things smoothly. Still, backup Painter disappointed Hoosiers even more than anyone could’ve imagined he would.
After he stepped in to fill the position when Collins was injured, the Colts went on a 0-8, losing streak with him at the helms. With less than 55% of completed passes, nine interceptions, and just six touchdowns, it’s not hard to see why.
Brandon Weeden - Cleveland Browns
This former Cleveland Brown QB was drafted in 2012 as the 22nd pick. Before playing football, he was actually a professional baseball player, though he wasn’t very good at that, either.
He suffered several injuries throughout his professional sports career, which perhaps contributed to his poor performance over the years. Finally, the coach had enough and decided to bench him in favor of another player.
Randy Wright - Green Bay Packers
Randy Wright played for the Green Bay Packers back in the 1980s, much to their dismay, along with the dismay of Packers' and well, football fans, in general. USA Today named him the worst starting quarterback of all time – and that’s saying a lot.
Of course, his 7-25 record completely backs up the comment, so they aren’t wrong. Wright was with the team from 1984 through 1988, during which time he threw a whopping 57 interceptions.
Blaine Gabbert - Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert as their 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. He has actually named the number one QB prospect of the draft.
But after he signed his four-year, $12 million contract, it became clear that they’d overestimated his abilities by a long shot. Once he was playing pro ball, he lost his touch and found himself injured and on the bench for a large portion of his time with FL.
Randy Johnson - Atlanta Falcons
Randy Johnson was the starting QB for the ATL Falcons back in 1966 and the city’s first NFL quarterback after the Falcons’ inception. Interestingly, he was the first player from his school (Texas A&I) to be drafted into the NFL in the first round.
Although he wasn’t the worst quarterback in history, he certainly wasn’t the best by any means. The Texas native threw 51 touchdowns and 90 interceptions in his career span, which he spent both with ATL, along with a short stint with the Green Bay Packers.
Bruce Mathison - Seattle Seahawks
Bruce Mathison threw a whopping 14 interceptions during his 1985 year with Buffalo (which, surprisingly, was an improvement from Vince Ferragamo.)
Still, his four touchdowns weren’t enough to save his career, which ended in the late ‘80s. Since then, he’s reportedly gotten into multi-level marketing.
Jason David - New Orleans Saints
Jason David is arguably the worst cornerback of the 2000s. He may be smiling in this picture, so it’s probably not taken on one of the days he threw one of his 16 career interceptions.
He was waived from the Colts to the Saints, the Saints to the Lions, and finally, in 2009, waived right out of the league.
Stan Gelbaugh - Seattle Seahawks
Stan Gelbaugh had a lot of luck during his time in the World League of American Football, where he became the London Monarchs Offensive Most Valuable Player. The success came after he’d struggled as a sixth-round pick for the Cowboys in the ’86 draft.
After his time with the World League, he tried to transfer back to the NFL but had trouble finding a team that would sign him. He joined the Seahawks during the 1992 season, but a high number of interceptions compared to a lower number of touchdowns hardly made him an enormous asset to the team.