Top Five Greatest Quarterbacks In New England Patriots History

No. 1 absolutely will not surprise you


May 18, 2023

The history of the New England Patriots is made up of all-time talent.

Rob Gronkowski had the most dominant stretch the NFL has ever seen out of a tight end. Sports Illustrated proclaimed John Hannah the “greatest offensive lineman of all time” halfway through his playing career. Devin McCourty, Richard Seymour, Ty Law and Vince Wilfork are players who were paramount during dynastic runs and are all Hall of Fame worthy contributors to New England’s success.

There’s also that guy who will take the No. 1 spot on this list.

New England’s history doesn’t have a wealth of Hall of Fame talent at quarterback, however. The prominence of names on this list falls off a cliff after the top spot, but these men all did enough to be considered among the best.

5. Jim Plunkett (1971-1975)
We forewarned you about the depth of this list.

Jim Plunkett is a legendary quarterback in one NFL organization, it just doesn’t happen to be the Patriots. Mostly unsuccessful stints in New England and San Francisco would see Plunkett out of the league for a season before joining the then-Oakland Raiders prior to his age-32 season. That’s where he would go on to win a pair of Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XV MVP, and compile a record of 38-19.

That’s a solid career, but it came after New England selected Plunkett with the No. 1 pick in the 1971 NFL Draft — hoping to make him the franchise’s first truly great QB. That didn’t happen, as the Stanford product put together a 23-38 record in five seasons under center for the Patriots, passing for a total of 9,932 yards, 62 touchdowns and 87 interceptions.

He had a solid enough career, but the Patriots weren’t able to enjoy the fruits of that labor.

4. Vito “Babe” Parilli (1961-1967)
Babe Parilli was the first franchise quarterback in Patriots history, joining them after a fairly successful career as a backup for the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Raiders.

In joining Boston (yes, they used to be called the Boston Patriots), Parilli immediately became one of the AFL’s best players. He made three Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro in 1964, passing for 3,465 yards with 31 touchdowns — both franchise records that wouldn’t be broken until 2007. In seven seasons with the Patriots, Parilli passed for 16,747 yards, 132 touchdowns and 138 interceptions.

He would go on to end his career with the New York Jets, winning Super Bowl III in 1969. Wait, should that bump him down this list?

3. Steve Grogan (1975-1990)
Steve Grogan was drafted in the fifth round. He didn’t make a single Pro Bowl or All-Pro. The Patriots tried to replace him under center on multiple occasions. Despite all of that, he stuck around for 15 seasons and is undoubtedly the third best quarterback in franchise history.

Grogan arrived to New England as one of the NFL’s first true dual-threat quarterbacks, and after battling for a few seasons to win the job, would set the quarterback-record for 12 rushing touchdowns in 1976 — which wouldn’t be broken for 35 seasons. He then ran for over 500 yards in 1978 and led the team to 3,156 rushing yards, an NFL record that stood for 41 seasons. The Kansas State product was eventually replaced by Tony Eason, but came on to throw the Patriots’ only touchdown of Super Bowl X and would split time with other quarterbacks for the remainder of his career.

In 135 starts, Grogan earned a record of 75-60, passed for 26,886 yards, 182 touchdowns and 208 interceptions and rushed for 2,176 yards and 35 touchdowns. That’s not too bad.

2. Drew Bledsoe (1993-2001)
Drew Bledsoe was looked at as the Patriots’ franchise savior in 1993, as New England selected him with the No. 1 overall pick.

Though he never was the best in the NFL and didn’t quite lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl win, Bledsoe was everything the team could have asked for. The Washington State product turned things around for New England in his sophomore year in 1994, leading the league in completions (400), attempts (691) and yards (4,555) and helping them go 10-6. He would later lead the franchise to its second Super Bowl appearance (XXXI) in 1997 before netting the first $100 million contract in NFL history.

Bledsoe eventually lost his job to you-know-who in 2001, but finished his Patriots career with a 63-60 record, 29,657 passing yards, 166 touchdowns, 138 interceptions and three Pro Bowls. He also has a Super Bowl ring, having come off the bench in the 2001 AFC Championship game to lead New England to victory and punch its ticket to Super Bowl XXXVI.

1. Tom Brady (2000-2019)
How much do we have to tell you?

The Patriots selected Tom Brady with the No. 199 pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, expecting him to compete for a backup role to Bledsoe. It took less than two years for him to earn the starting job, win Super Bowl XXXVI and become one of the most highly-respected players in the league. It never stopped from there.

In 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady won six Super Bowls, five Super Bowl MVPs, compiled a 219-64 record, passed for 74,571 yards, 541 touchdowns and 179 interceptions, won three MVP awards, made 14 Pro Bowls, was named All-Pro twice, won two Offensive Player of the Year awards and was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2009.

He’s the greatest player in the history of the NFL, and he became that as a member of the Patriots.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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