As Aaron Rodgers said on March 15th on that little YouTube venture called The Pat McAfee Show that at its peak had a half million viewers hanging on the quarterback's every word, the game of football "is an incredible profession, but it's a tough business."
That tough business on occasion allows top quarterbacks, even soon-to-be Hall of Famers, to leave their long-time pro homes for other teams. And while these scenarios don't provide a storybook ending for all QBs and their new teams, a number of these transactions have done historically well. A few of the success stories:
1993 — Joe Montana, San Francisco to Kansas City
After Montana had 14 seasons and four Super Bowl championships, capped by two injury-shortened seasons, the 49ers were ready to start the Steve Young era. So they did the unthinkable — they traded Montana to the Chiefs in 1993. In his last two seasons, he led KC to a 17-8 regular-season record, two playoff berths and, in '93, the AFC Championship Game, which they lost at Buffalo. That was still the farthest the Chiefs had gotten in the postseason since Super Bowl IV.
(Aside: KC's offensive coordinator in Montana's two seasons was Paul Hackett, who soon after became the Jets' OC from 2001-04 and whose son, Nathaniel, is the Jets' new OC.)
2012 — Peyton Manning, Indianapolis to Denver
Manning's glorious pro career got off and galloping with him as a member of the Colts for 14 seasons, as Indy re-reached three conference title games and two Super Bowls and won SB XLI under his leadership. However, neck surgery cost Manning the 2011 season, and the next offseason Indianapolis released him and he signed with the Broncos.
In his second season a mile high, in 2013, Manning threw a league-record 55 touchdown passes and led Denver to the Super Bowl — the farthest the Broncos had ventured since losing the 2005 AFC title game. Then in his last game as an active player, he was far from dominant yet still one of the pieces that helped Denver defeat Carolina in SB 50.
Jets welcome four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers. Take a look at his 18-year career through photos.
2000 — Tom Brady, New England to Tampa Bay
Patriots fans were sad — while the Jets, the rest of the AFC East and the AFC in general were glad — to see the GOAT change pastures in 2020 from Foxboro, after 20 record-setting seasons, nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super victories, to Tampa as an unrestricted free agent.
The Buccaneers and their fans, conversely, were quite happy that the addition of TB immediately led TB to its first double-digit-victory regular season since 2010 followed by its farthest playoff venture since the Bucs won their first Super Bowl after the 2002 season, which ended with victory over Kansas City in SB LV.
2021 — Matt Stafford, Detroit to L.A. Rams
Stafford had many individual highlights but none of the team success with the Lions that the three aforementioned QBs had with their first teams. From 2009-20, his 12 Detroit teams posted only four winning records and three NFC Wild Card Game losses. The Lions traded their franchise QB to the Rams after the '20 season.
And in Stafford's first season at the controls, LA enjoyed its best overall season in '21 — 12-5 regular season, Super Bowl victory over the Bengals — since their only other Super Bowl win after the 1999 season, when they were the St. Louis Rams.