When NFL fans discuss the best quarterbacks of the 2000s, debates ensue. You have the Peyton Manning supporters versus the Tom Brady supporters. Manning and Brady are no-brainers as the top quarterbacks of the 2000s. However, the third quarterback to enter the list has the potential to spark some debate as well.
Nevertheless, this was no doubt the decade of the quarterback.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts selected Manning as the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft. He immediately became the starting quarterback. Manning began posting impressive statistics as soon as he first put on an NFL uniform. He threw for more than 4,000 yards in six successive seasons, and nine total seasons over the course of the decade. Manning threw 49 touchdown passes in 2004, breaking a record held by Dan Marino with 48 from 1984. He led the Colts to a 2006 Super Bowl victory, winning the game’s MVP award. He also led them to the Super Bowl in 2009, but the New Orleans Saints upstaged Manning’s Colts. Manning earned four NFL MVP awards in 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009. In 2003, he shared the MVP honor with the late Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair.
Throughout the 2000s, Manning threw for 42,254 yards, 314 touchdown passes, and 129 interceptions
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Unlike Manning, very few NFL fans were familiar with the name Tom Brady when the Patriots selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. He took over the quarterback duties early in 2001 when Drew Bledsoe suffered an injury. The young quarterback proceeded to lead the Patriots to an improbable Super Bowl upset by defeating the favored St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Brady was the MVP for the big game. He earned the Super Bowl MVP award two years later. He led the Patriots to a third Super Bowl triumph in four years in 2004. In 2007, he threw a record 50 touchdown passes en route to his first NFL MVP award.
Over the course of the 2000s, Brady threw for 30,844 yards, 225 touchdown passes, and only 99 interceptions.
Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints
Brees slightly edged out Donovan McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger for the final spot on the list. His Super Bowl victory and game MVP in 2010 was the clincher. Brees was a second round selection in the 2001 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. Brees was erratic throughout the first three seasons of his NFL career, nearly losing the starting job. By 2004, he began to exceed expectations, as he guided the Chargers to the post-season with a passer rating of 104.8. He signed with the Saints in 2006, and led them to the NFC title game. He also threw for 4,418 yards. In 2008, he became the second player to exceed the 5,000 mark for yards completed. Brees led the Saints to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory in 2010.
During the 2000s, Brees threw for 30,646 yards, 202 touchdown passes, and 110 interceptions.
Honorable mentions include Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles); Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers); Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings); Kurt Warner (St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, and Arizona Cardinals); Steve McNair (Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens)
Resource: Pro Football Reference