Top 10 Cleveland Browns Quarterbacks of All-Time

Updated on October 30, 2019
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) prepares to make a pass during the first half against the New England Patriots during the 2019 season. Mayfield hopes to one day be considered among the best Browns quarterbacks of all-time.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) prepares to make a pass during the first half against the New England Patriots during the 2019 season. Mayfield hopes to one day be considered among the best Browns quarterbacks of all-time. | Source

Who Are the 10 Greatest Browns Quarterbacks of All Time?

There have been 57 quarterbacks to start a game for the Cleveland Browns, and while more than half of those players have appeared since 1999, the position still holds plenty of significance in the franchise’s history. Only the first quarterback in team history made it the Pro Football Hall of Fame from contributions made to the Browns, but a handful of others have led Cleveland to the playoffs and/or picked up individual honors.

When the Browns franchise was born in 1946, the strongest position on the team was quarterback. In those early years, their prolific passing offense helped Cleveland win five straight championships. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, their quarterback talent dropped off, but not so much that the Browns didn't make the postseason a few times. There was a resurgence in the '80s, with strong quarterbacks nearly sending the Browns into the Super Bowl several times. But after the Browns returned as an expansion franchise in 1999, there has been a revolving door of mediocre quarterbacks. Current starter Baker Mayfield is the 30th quarterback to start a game for Cleveland since '99, but he's also provided the greatest hope for the team in three decades.

A list of the 10 greatest Browns quarterbacks of all-time follows, including a handful of honorable-mention candidates at the end, and statistics for every quarterback that has ever played for the Browns.

Selection Criteria for This List

  • Legacy Honors (Hall of Fame, Ring of Honor, retired number, etc.)
  • Single-Season Honors (MVP, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, league leader, etc.)
  • On-Field Success (winning percentage, winning seasons, playoff appearances, etc.)
  • Longevity (years with Browns, percentage of career with Browns, etc.)

Only games played with the Browns are factored into this list, so while Hall of Famer Len Dawson is a prime candidate for a list about the Kansas City Chiefs, his nine-game, 108-yard career numbers with the Browns won't make the cut here. So without further ado, let's count down the top 10 quarterbacks in Cleveland Browns history, and feel free to chime in with your thoughts on these selections.

10. Derek Anderson

  • Years With the Browns: 2006–09
  • Regular-Season Record: 16-18
  • Pro Bowl: 2007

In 2007, it appeared the Cleveland Browns' quarterback woes had finally been resolved. Derek Anderson had a breakout season and led the Browns to a 10-6 record, which was their first winning season since 2002. That success, however, did not continue. Anderson struggled on the field and with injuries the next two seasons and ultimately moved on to the Arizona Cardinals. Nevertheless, Anderson made 2007 a season to remember.

The Browns claimed Anderson off waivers in 2005, but he wouldn't see the field until the following season. Then, after a heated preseason between himself, incumbent starter Charlie Frye, and first-round draft pick Brady Quinn, Anderson was named the backup for the 2007 season. His role quickly changed, though, after Frye was benched in the first half of the season opener, leaving Anderson an opportunity to seize the starter's spot. Frye was traded two days later, and Anderson threw five touchdowns in Week 2 to kick off the best season he would ever have.

Anderson signed an extension following the season in a surprise move, considering the Browns had traded up in the draft to select Quinn. Over the next two seasons, Anderson and Quinn would both see plenty of action, but neither proved to be a long-term solution. Anderson closed out his Browns career by completing 587 of 1,109 passes for 7,083 yards, 46 touchdowns, and 45 interceptions.

Derek Anderson's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
2006
5
3
0-3
66
117
56.4
793
5
8
2007
16
15
10-5
298
527
56.5
3787
29
19
2008
10
9
3-6
142
283
50.2
1615
9
8
2009
8
7
3-4
81
182
44.5
888
3
10

9. Mike Phipps

  • Years With the Browns: 1970–76
  • Regular-Season Record: 24-25-2
  • Playoff Appearances: 1972
  • Playoff Record: 0-1

During his college career at Purdue, experts said Michael "Mike" Phipps had all the tools necessary to be an NFL quarterback. But he ultimately got drafted as a backup. The day before the 1970 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns made a shocking trade. They sent future Hall of Famer Paul Warfield to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the No. 3 selection in the draft. They then used that pick on Phipps to secure a solid backup for the injury-prone Bill Nelsen, who had started for the Browns since early in the 1968 season.

Phipps eventually became a serviceable starting quarterback for the Browns and almost led them to a 1972 playoff win, but he never reached the superstar status expected of such a high draft pick. After playing a handful of games in his first two seasons, Phipps became the permanent starter in 1972, unexpectedly leading the team into the playoffs against the undefeated Miami Dolphins. The Browns held the lead late in the fourth quarter after Phipps threw a touchdown pass, but Miami scored again for a 20-14 victory. Phipps was intercepted five times during that game and displayed a lack of control for the rest of his Browns career.

Interceptions plagued Phipps, who threw 56 of them from 1973–75. Then, in the season-opening game of the 1976 season, Phipps suffered a separated shoulder, giving Brian Sipe the starter's job. Phipps was traded to the Chicago Bears for a first-round draft selection in 1977, and Cleveland used that draft pick on Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome. Altogether with the Browns, Phipps completed 633 of 1,317 passes for 7,700 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 81 interceptions.

Mike Phipps' Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1970
14
1
0-1
29
60
48.3
529
1
5
1971
14
1
0-1
13
47
27.7
179
1
4
1972
14
13
10-3
144
305
47.2
1994
13
16
1973
14
14
7-5-2
148
299
49.5
1719
9
20
1974
14
9
2-7
117
256
45.7
1384
9
17
1975
14
11
3-8
162
313
51.8
1749
4
19
1976
4
2
2-0
20
37
54.1
146
3
0

8. Vinny Testaverde

  • Years With the Browns: 1993–95
  • Regular-Season Record: 16-15
  • Playoff Appearances: 1994
  • Playoff Record: 1-1

Despite having the talent to start, Vincent "Vinny" Testaverde was brought to the Browns in 1993 to be the backup to incumbent starter Bernie Kosar. The plan was for the two quarterbacks to co-exist and help lead the Browns back to the playoffs, but Testaverde ultimately wrangled the job from Kosar in the middle of the season. Testaverde's status was further cemented a few weeks later when the Browns made the shocking decision to release Kosar, who had started for Cleveland since 1985. Testaverde would lead the league with 13.8 yards per completion over 10 games, including six starts.

Testaverde made good on his promotion in 1994, leading the Browns back to the postseason after a four-year drought. He beat the New England Patriots in the first round, but the Browns were ousted by arch-rival Pittsburgh in the Divisional round. Cleveland struggled in 1995, and after the season, Testaverde and the rest of the Browns were relocated to Baltimore. Throughout his time with the Browns, Testaverde completed 578 of 998 passes for 7,255 yards, 47 touchdowns, and 37 interceptions.

Vinny Testaverde's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1993
10
6
3-3
130
230
56.5
1797
14
9
1994
14
13
9-4
207
376
55.1
2575
16
18
1995
13
12
4-8
241
392
61.5
2883
17
10

7. Tim Couch

  • Years With the Browns: 1999–03
  • Regular-Season Record: 22-37

Timothy "Tim" Couch was the No. 1 draft pick in a class loaded with quarterbacking talent, but because he went to an expansion team, his supporting cast wasn't the strongest. Many wondered what Couch's big arm could have done had he been drafted by a more established team. But the University of Kentucky renaissance man provided the Browns room to grow into a playoff appearance. Injuries, however, took their toll, and Couch faded into obscurity after his rookie contract expired. And while he couldn't turn Cleveland into a winner like he did at Kentucky, he still finished his career with respectable numbers and one unusual NFL record.

Couch never appeared in the postseason, but he did lay the foundation for his team in 2002. Needing a win in Week 17, Couch was injured during the first half against the Falcons, but reserve Kelly Holcomb finished the job, sending the Browns to the postseason. The injury also prevented Couch from playing in a first-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh the next week, and defines Couch's career. He had just one 16-game season (2001), and among his shortened campaigns were 2000 (7 games) and 2003 (10 games)—which was his final season.

Take away those injuries, however, and Couch likely would have been a steady hand. It's doubtful he would have reached the heights expected of a No. 1 draft choice, but with 10 game-winning drives in his career, Couch knew how to play when it mattered most. In 1999, he won his first game with a Hail Mary pass as time expired against New Orleans, and he did so again against Jacksonville in 2002. This made him the only quarterback to ever win two games with passes of more than 50 yards when no time remained on the game clock. Couch is Cleveland's all-time leader in career completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 50 games. He completed 1,025 of 1,714 passes (59.8%) for 11,131 yards, 64 touchdowns, and 67 interceptions.

Tim Couch's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1999
15
14
2-12-0
223
399
55.9
2447
15
13
2000
7
7
2-5-0
137
215
63.7
1483
7
9
2001
16
16
7-9-0
272
454
59.9
3040
17
21
2002
14
14
8-6-0
273
443
61.6
2842
18
18
2003
10
8
3-5-0
120
203
59.1
1319
7
6

6. Milt Plum

  • Years With the Browns: 1957–61
  • Regular-Season Record: 33-16-2
  • Playoff Appearances: 1957–58
  • Playoff Record: 0-1
  • Pro Bowl: 1960–61

Milton "Milt" Plum was one of the most accurate quarterbacks to ever play for the Cleveland Browns. For Cleveland's teams of the late 1950s and early '60s, Plum's strategic placement of passes was the perfect complement to the standout running game led by Jim Brown. In his five seasons, Plum had nearly a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and he led the league in completion percentage each year from 1959–61.

Plum split his rookie season with Tommy O'Connell, but then started all but two regular-season games over the next four years. He helped the Browns achieve a winning record each of those seasons, but Cleveland only made the playoffs once. Ironically, Plum threw two interceptions in a 10-0 Divisional round loss to the New York Giants. The same happened a year before when he came off the bench in a 59-14 playoff loss to the Detroit Lions.

After failing to secure postseason wins, Plum was sent to the Lions in a six-player deal on March 29, 1962. Included in the deal was quarterback Jim Ninowski, a former Browns player who threatened to quit football rather than return to Cleveland. But he report and ended Plum's career on the shores of Lake Erie. All told, during Plum's career with the Browns, he completed 627 of 1,083 passes for 8,914 yards, 66 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions.

Milt Plum's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1957
9
3
2-1
41
76
53.9
590
2
5
1958
12
11
9-2
102
189
54
1619
11
11
1959
12
12
7-5
156
266
58.6
1992
14
8
1960
12
12
8-3-1
151
250
60.4
2297
21
5
1961
14
13
7-5-1
177
302
58.6
2416
18
10

5. Bill Nelsen

  • Years With the Browns: 1968–72
  • Regular-Season Record: 34-16-1
  • Playoff Appearances: 1968, '69, '71
  • Playoff Record: 2-3
  • Pro Bowl: 1969

It was as if the Browns and William "Bill" Nelsen needed each other. The oft-injured quarterback hadn't found much success prior to joining Cleveland, but once he arrived on the lakefront, he immediately propelled the Browns into the postseason. Nelsen was a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was unable to establish himself there. He came to Cleveland in a trade and replaced Frank Ryan as starter three games into his tenure.

Nelsen led the Browns into the playoffs from there. Despite having defeated the powerhouse Baltimore Colts in his third start during the regular season, he couldn't get past them again in the conference championship game. He returned Cleveland to the conference title game a year later but was stopped short by the Minnesota Vikings. Nelsen struggled with injuries over the next two seasons, and after losing his starting spot a week into the season in 1972, he called it a career. For the Browns, Nelsen completed 689 of 1,314 passes for 9,725 yards, 71 touchdowns, and 71 interceptions. In five postseason games, he was 68-of-132 passing for 839 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.

Bill Nelsen's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1968
14
11
9-2
152
293
51.9
2366
19
10
1969
14
14
10-3-1
190
352
54
2743
23
19
1970
12
12
6-6
159
313
50.8
2156
16
16
1971
14
13
9-4
174
325
53.5
2319
13
23
1972
4
1
0-1
14
31
45.2
141
0
3
Browns quarterback Brian Sipe walks the sideline during the 1979 season. A year later, he'd be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player.
Browns quarterback Brian Sipe walks the sideline during the 1979 season. A year later, he'd be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player. | Source

4. Brian Sipe

  • Years With the Browns: 1974–83
  • Regular-Season Record: 57-55
  • Playoff Appearances: 1980
  • Playoff Record: 0-1
  • Pro Bowl: 1980
  • All-Pro: 1979–80
  • Major Awards: MVP, 1980

After a rough decade throughout the 1970s, the Browns started to have a resurgence going into the '80s. A big reason for that was Brian Sipe, the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the 1980 season. Sipe was a prolific passer, throwing for still-standing Cleveland single-season records of 4,132 yards on 337 completions and 30 touchdowns. Sipe had appeared in games as far back as 1974, but he didn't snag the starting job for a full season until 1978.

By 1979, Sipe was becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His play was behind the team's nickname of the "Kardiac Kids" because he engineered 11 game-winning drives from 1979–80. The Browns made the playoffs in 1980, returning to the postseason for the first time since 1972, but that appearance would result in heartbreak. Down by two points with less than a minute to play, Sipe's attempt at a game-winning touchdown was intercepted by the Oakland Raiders in a play infamously known as "Red Right 88."

Sipe posted big numbers again in 1981, but the Browns struggled to a 5-11 record. His 3,876 passing yards remain second in team history for a single-season, and his 567 passing attempts are a team record. He was replaced as the starter toward the end of the strike-shortened 1982 season, then almost got the Browns back into the playoffs in 1983—his final year in Cleveland. In his career, Sipe completed 1,944 of 3,439 passes for 23,713 yards (all team records), 154 touchdowns, and 149 interceptions.

Brian Sipe's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1974
10
5
2-3
59
108
54.6
603
1
7
1975
7
2
0-2
45
88
51.1
427
1
3
1976
14
12
7-5
178
312
57.1
2113
17
14
1977
9
9
5-4
112
195
57.4
1233
9
14
1978
16
16
8-8
222
399
55.6
2906
21
15
1979
16
16
9-7
286
535
53.5
3793
28
26
1980
16
16
11-5
337
554
60.8
4132
30
14
1981
16
16
5-11
313
567
55.2
3876
17
25
1982
6
6
2-4
101
185
54.6
1064
4
8
1983
15
14
8-6
291
496
58.7
3566
26
23

3. Frank Ryan

  • Years With the Browns: 1962–68
  • Regular-Season Record: 52-22-2
  • Playoff Appearances: 1964–65, 1967–68
  • Playoff Record: 1-2
  • Pro Bowl: 1964–66

Frank Ryan is the last Browns quarterback to win an NFL championship—which was in 1964. He came to Cleveland in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams in 1962, and became the starter in the middle of the season when incumbent Jim Ninowski broke his collarbone. Ryan maintained a firm grasp on that spot through 1967, becoming the best quarterback the Browns had seen since Hall of Famer Otto Graham.

Ryan was at his best in 1964, leading the league with 25 touchdown passes. In the final game of the regular season against the New York Giants, he led the offensive barrage that earned them a spot in the NFL championship game with a 52-20 victory. There, he connected with Gary Collins for three second-half touchdowns in a memorable 27-0 upset of the Baltimore Colts. A year later, Ryan was bothered by nagging injuries but led the Browns to the title game again. This time, the Green Bay Packers came away with the victory.

Fullback Jim Brown retired in 1965, but Ryan picked up the offensive slack the following season. He threw 29 touchdowns, a record for the team at the time, and a career high of 2,974 yards. That, however, was not enough to get the Browns into the playoffs. In his final season as starter, Ryan was once again hampered by injuries but got Cleveland back to the postseason, where the Browns lost to the Dallas Cowboys. He only started three games in 1968 and was released prior to the 1969 season. In total, Ryan completed 907 of 1,755 passes for 13,361 yards, 134 touchdowns, and 88 interceptions. During the postseason, he was 35-of-72 passing for 534 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.

Frank Ryan's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1962
11
7
3-3-1
112
194
57.7
1541
10
7
1963
13
13
10-3
135
256
52.7
2026
25
13
1964
14
14
10-3-1
174
334
52.1
2404
25
19
1965
12
12
10-2
119
243
49
1751
18
13
1966
14
14
9-5
200
382
52.4
2974
29
14
1967
13
13
9-4
136
280
48.6
2026
20
16
1968
7
3
1-2
31
66
47
639
7
6
Former quarterback Bernie Kosar smiles during halftime of a game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets during the 2016 season. Kosar is remembered as one of the best Browns quarterbacks of all-time.
Former quarterback Bernie Kosar smiles during halftime of a game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets during the 2016 season. Kosar is remembered as one of the best Browns quarterbacks of all-time. | Source

2. Bernie Kosar

  • Years With the Browns: 1985–93
  • Regular-Season Record: 53-51-1
  • Playoff Appearances: 1985–87, '89
  • Playoff Record: 3-4
  • Pro Bowl: 1987, '89

In Cleveland, if you mention "Bernie," Browns fans will know you're talking about Bernie Kosar. The last great quarterback the Browns had, Kosar was a standout for Cleveland for almost a decade. He led multiple playoff runs in the late 1980s that almost got the Browns into the Super Bowl.

After graduating early from the University of Miami, Kosar entered the NFL's Supplemental Draft and signed a five-year contract with the Browns. The Ohio native was thrown into action as a rookie after starter Gary Danielson suffered an injury, and he was able to do just enough to get Cleveland into the postseason. The next season, Kosar became the full-time starter and had a fantastic season, achieving career-highs in every major passing category except touchdowns. In the playoffs, Kosar threw for a then-record 489 yards in a first-round win, but lost to the Denver Broncos in the American Football Conference title game a week later. Kosar's Browns met the Broncos for the AFC title again in 1987 and 1989, with Denver prevailing both times.

Injuries began to take their toll on Kosar, who played just one full season in the 1990s. Kosar's career in Cleveland came to an abrupt end on November 7, 1993, with management citing his diminishing skillset as the reason for his release. Both owner Art Modell and coach Bill Belichick called the decision one of the toughest they had to make because Kosar was such a fan favorite. Kosar's release was the most controversial decision the Browns had made since 1963 when Modell fired Paul Brown, the team's co-founder, and first head coach. Kosar, however, found work immediately, signing within days to become a backup for the Dallas Cowboys.

In his Browns career, Kosar completed 1,853 of 3,150 passes for 21,904 yards, 116 touchdowns, and 81 interceptions. His per-game average of 202.8 passing yards is a team record among quarterbacks who played in more than 50 games. In seven playoff games, Kosar was 146-of-260 passing for 1,860 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.

Bernie Kosar's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1985
12
10
4-6
124
248
50
1578
8
7
1986
16
16
12-4
310
531
58.4
3854
17
10
1987
12
12
8-4
241
389
62
3033
22
9
1988
9
9
6-3
156
259
60.2
1890
10
7
1989
16
16
9-6-1
303
513
59.1
3533
18
14
1990
13
13
3-10
230
423
54.4
2562
10
15
1991
16
16
6-10
307
494
62.1
3487
18
9
1992
7
7
2-5
103
155
66.5
1160
8
7
1993
7
6
3-3
79
138
57.2
807
5
3

1. Otto Graham

  • Years With the Browns: 1946–55
  • Regular-Season Record: 57-13-1
  • Playoff Appearances: 1946–55
  • Playoff Record: 10-3
  • Pro Bowl: 1950–54
  • All-Pro: 1947–49, 1951–55
  • Major Awards: MVP, 1947–48, '51, '53, '55
  • Legacy Honors: Hall of Fame (1965), Browns Ring of Honor, No. 14 retired

The only quarterback in Browns history to make the Hall of Fame based on his contributions to Cleveland is Otto Graham. Graham's career began in 1946 when the Browns were founded and played in the All-American Football Conference. In his first four years, Graham sent the Browns to four straight championships and a 47-4-3 record. The AAFC dissolved after the 1949 season, and because of their dominance, the Browns were selected to join the NFL. Even against what was considered superior competition, Graham showed why he was the best of his era, leading the Browns to the postseason each of the next six seasons, and winning three more titles.

During his AAFC years, Graham led the league in passing yardage from 1947–49, and finished as the league's all-time leading passer, with 10,085 yards and 86 touchdowns. He did much of the same in the NFL, leading the Browns to a 10-2 record in 1950, and throwing for four touchdowns on the way to winning the league title. Cleveland would lose each of the next three NFL championship games, despite outstanding regular-season numbers from Graham.

Prior to the 1954 season, Graham announced it would be his final year, and he certainly went out on top. He spurred the Browns to overcome the three straight losses that opened the season, giving Cleveland another spot in the NFL title game. The Browns met the Detroit Lions, and Graham threw for three touchdowns and rushed for three more during a 56-10 victory. Lured out of retirement by an offer to become the league's highest-paid player, Graham returned in 1955. In the league title game, he accounted for four touchdowns in a 38-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

In his 10-year career, Graham completed 1,464 of his 2,626 passes for 23,584 yards, 174 touchdowns, and 135 interceptions. He added another 44 rushing touchdowns. Graham played in 12 postseason games, finishing 159-of-300 passing for 2,101 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. On the ground, he scored six rushing touchdowns.

Otto Graham's Statistics With the Browns

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
TD
Int
1946
14
9
N/A
95
174
54.6
1834
17
5
1947
14
9
N/A
163
269
60.6
2753
25
11
1948
14
14
N/A
173
333
52
2713
25
15
1949
12
11
N/A
161
285
56.5
2785
19
10
1950
12
12
10-2
137
253
54.2
1943
14
20
1951
12
12
11-1
147
265
55.5
2205
17
16
1952
12
12
8-4
181
364
49.7
2816
20
24
1953
12
11
10-1
167
258
64.7
2722
11
9
1954
12
12
9-3
142
240
59.2
2092
11
17
1955
12
12
9-3
98
185
53
1721
15
8
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2019 season. Though only in his second season, the hope Mayfield has brought to the Browns already has him among the team's best of all-time.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2019 season. Though only in his second season, the hope Mayfield has brought to the Browns already has him among the team's best of all-time. | Source

Honorable Mentions

With so many standout quarterbacks in the history of the Browns, there were several players right on the cusp of being included among the top 10. Listed below are several players who left an indelible mark on team history, but didn't quite make the cut.

Baker Mayfield

The first overall draft pick in 2018, Mayfield made an impact right away. He threw for a rookie record 27 touchdowns in 14 games, helping the Browns finish 7-8-1. As the 2019 season progresses, Mayfield could very well put himself into the top 10.

Tommy O'Connell

O'Connell was one of three passers in 1956 who hoped to follow Otto Graham as starter for the Browns. O'Connell was short-lived in Cleveland, but also the best of the bunch. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1957, the same year he led the Browns back to the NFL championship game, though that was his final game in Cleveland.

Paul McDonald

McDonald was primarily a backup to Brian Sipe, but got a chance to shine in 1982, when he took over for Sipe and made an appearance in the playoffs. In McDonald's only year as the full-time starter in 1984, the Browns went 5-11, but he threw for 3,472 yards.

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer is one of several players who the team drafted in recent years to become a franchise quarterback. Kizer turned out to be among the worst, going 0-15 in his starts.
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer is one of several players who the team drafted in recent years to become a franchise quarterback. Kizer turned out to be among the worst, going 0-15 in his starts. | Source

How Many Quarterbacks Have the Cleveland Browns Had?

Listed above are the best of the best among Cleveland Browns quarterbacks. Overall, the team has rolled out 70 players at the position (see the full list below). Graham was a bona fide choice for the No. 1 spot as the only Hall of Famer on the list and for his unmatched postseason track record. The rest of the top five, however, is up for debate.

I personally selected Kosar as the No. 2 quarterback in Cleveland history because of his longevity with the team, and what he accomplished during his tenure (most notably the three appearances in the AFC championship game). Many argue between whether Kosar or Sipe is the second-best quarterback ever for the Browns, but to me, Sipe was more of an accumulator in terms of statistics who had just three standout seasons (1979, '80, and '83). That type of athlete has value, but makes a player like Kosar stand out more is he was more impactful over a shorter period of time. I slipped Ryan in between them because he was such a winner. After the retirement of fullback Jim Brown—arguably the greatest football player of all-time—Ryan carried the torch for Cleveland after 1965, keeping the Browns relevant when they could have faded into obscurity.

Full List of All Cleveland Browns Quarterbacks

(click column header to sort results)
Player  
From  
To  
G  
Record  
Comp  
Att  
Comp%  
Yds  
TD  
Int  
Bud Schwenk
1946
1946
4
 
15
23
65.2
276
4
0
Otto Graham
1946
1955
126
57-13-1
1464
2626
55.8
23584
174
135
Ermal Allen
1947
1947
12
 
4
13
30.8
88
0
0
George Terlep
1948
1948
9
 
1
2
50
27
0
1
George Ratterman
1952
1956
35
2-3
128
204
62.7
1688
15
11
Babe Parilli
1956
1956
5
1-2
24
49
49
409
3
7
Tommy O'Connell
1956
1957
18
10-3-1
105
206
51
1780
13
16
John Borton
1957
1957
5
 
3
6
50
22
0
1
Milt Plum
1957
1961
59
33-16-2
627
1083
57.9
8914
66
39
Jim Ninowski
1958
1966
40
5-6-0
184
371
49.6
2630
20
22
Len Dawson
1960
1961
9
1-0
15
28
53.6
108
1
3
Frank Ryan
1962
1968
84
52-22-2
907
1755
51.7
13361
134
88
Gary Lane
1966
1967
11
0-1
21
43
48.8
254
2
1
Dick Shiner
1967
1967
13
 
3
9
33.3
34
0
1
Bill Nelsen
1968
1972
58
34-16-1
689
1314
52.4
9725
71
71
Jerry Rhome
1969
1969
11
 
7
19
36.8
35
0
2
Don Gault
1970
1970
2
1-0
2
19
10.5
67
0
3
Mike Phipps
1970
1976
88
24-25-2
633
1317
48.1
7700
40
81
Don Horn
1973
1973
14
 
4
8
50
22
1
0
Brian Sipe
1974
1983
125
57-55
1944
3439
56.5
23713
154
149
Will Cureton
1975
1975
1
0-1
10
32
31.3
95
1
1
Dave Mays
1976
1977
11
1-3
76
141
53.9
898
6
11
Terry Luck
1977
1977
4
0-1
25
50
50
316
1
7
Mark Miller
1978
1979
10
 
15
47
31.9
243
1
5
Paul McDonald
1980
1985
84
8-13
411
767
53.6
5269
24
37
Tom Flick
1984
1984
1
 
1
1
100
2
0
0
Gary Danielson
1985
1988
16
5-3
153
248
61.7
1879
12
7
Bernie Kosar
1985
1993
108
53-51-1
1853
3150
58.8
21904
116
81
Mike Pagel
1986
1990
42
2-5
147
299
49.2
1668
7
13
Jeff Christensen
1987
1987
3
1-1
24
58
41.4
297
1
3
Don Strock
1988
1988
4
2-0
55
91
60.4
736
6
5
Jeff Francis
1990
1990
1
 
2
2
100
26
0
0
Todd Philcox
1991
1993
11
2-3
69
143
48.3
965
7
9
Brad Goebel
1992
1994
2
 
2
3
66.7
32
0
0
Mike Tomczak
1992
1992
12
4-4
120
211
56.9
1693
7
7
Vinny Testaverde
1993
1995
37
16-15
578
998
57.9
7255
47
37
Mark Rypien
1994
1994
6
2-1
59
128
46.1
694
4
3
Eric Zeier
1995
1995
7
1-3
82
161
50.9
864
4
9
Ty Detmer
1999
1999
5
0-2
47
91
51.6
548
4
2
Tim Couch
1999
2003
62
22-37
1025
1714
59.8
11131
64
67
Kevin Thompson
2000
2000
1
 
1
1
100
8
0
0
Spergon Wynn
2000
2000
7
0-1
22
54
40.7
167
0
1
Doug Pederson
2000
2000
11
1-7
117
210
55.7
1047
2
8
Kelly Holcomb
2001
2004
19
4-8
323
507
63.7
3438
26
21
Luke McCown
2004
2004
5
0-4
48
98
49
608
4
7
Jeff Garcia
2004
2004
11
3-7
144
252
57.1
1731
10
9
Trent Dilfer
2005
2005
11
4-7
199
333
59.8
2321
11
12
Charlie Frye
2005
2007
21
6-13
354
567
62.4
3490
14
23
Ken Dorsey
2006
2008
6
0-3
43
92
46.7
370
0
7
Derek Anderson
2006
2009
39
16-18
587
1109
52.9
7083
46
45
Brady Quinn
2007
2009
14
3-9
184
353
52.1
1902
10
9
Bruce Gradkowski
2008
2008
2
0-1
7
21
33.3
26
0
3
Jake Delhomme
2010
2010
5
2-2
93
149
62.4
872
2
7
Seneca Wallace
2010
2011
14
1-6
119
208
57.2
1261
6
4
Colt McCoy
2010
2012
24
6-15
409
702
58.3
4388
21
20
Brandon Weeden
2012
2013
23
5-15
438
784
55.9
5116
23
26
Jason Campbell
2013
2013
9
1-7
180
317
56.8
2015
11
8
Brian Hoyer
2013
2014
17
10-6
299
534
56
3941
17
16
Connor Shaw
2014
2014
1
0-1
14
28
50
177
0
1
Johnny Manziel
2014
2015
15
2-6
147
258
57
1675
7
7
Austin Davis
2015
2015
3
0-2
56
94
59.6
547
1
3
Josh McCown
2015
2016
13
1-10
276
457
60.4
3209
18
10
Charlie Whitehurst
2016
2016
1
 
14
24
58.3
182
1
1
Kevin Hogan
2016
2017
8
0-1
60
101
59.4
621
4
7
Robert Griffin
2016
2016
5
1-4
87
147
59.2
886
2
3
Cody Kessler
2016
2017
12
0-8
139
218
63.8
1506
6
3
DeShone Kizer
2017
2017
15
0-15
255
476
53.6
2894
11
22
Tyrod Taylor
2018
2018
4
1-1-1
42
85
49.4
473
2
2
Baker Mayfield
2018
2019
16
7-8
354
559
63.3
4335
29
18

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • Andrew Harner profile imageAUTHOR

        Andrew Harner 

        2 weeks ago from Ohio

        I realized after the fact this probably would have been sufficient as a Top 5 instead.

        I'm holding out hope on Mayfield, but my personal expectations have remained pretty low.

      • lions44 profile image

        CJ Kelly 

        2 weeks ago from Auburn, WA

        A very top-heavy list...but I had forgotten Milt Plum and Frank Ryan. I don't think Mayfield will get that much better. Too much too soon. But it would be nice if it worked. He's already surpassed Manziel.

        Sharing

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