With Tom Brady continuing to break all-time quarterback season and career records, there are few lists without his name appearing somewhere. However, legends like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees also have quite a few accolades still intact. Here are the top three QBs in all-time QB career records, season records, and rookie records to show who the best in the game truly are.
NFL QB season records
NFL season passing yards leader
- 5,477 — 2013, Peyton Manning (37 years old)
- 5,476 — 2011, Drew Brees (32)
- 5,316 — 2021, Tom Brady (43)
Drew Brees and Tom Brady were the first to break QB Dan Marino’s season record of 5,084 passing yards in 2011. Marino’s 1984 record had stood for 27 years, which is no small feat. Since that crazy 2011 season, seven other QBs have surpassed Marino, including the current record-holder Peyton Manning. Manning put up 5,477 yards and broke the record by a single yard in 2013 when he was with the Denver Broncos, only two years after Brees.
This beat Manning’s previous best of 4,700 yards in 2010 with the Indianapolis Colts. He would also put up 4,727 yards with the Broncos in 2014, giving him three seasons in the top 40 all-time.
Last season, Tom Brady was able to ascend this list when he threw for 5,316 yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 43 years old! As impressive as the names on this list are, Brady being able to accomplish what he did at that age is almost unbelievable. He came just 150 yards short of breaking the season passing yard leader’s record even though he was six years older than Manning was at the time.
Marino’s once impossible 1984 QB passing yards season record is now 10th on the all-time list. This goes to show how pass-happy the league has become in the last decade. It also shows just how impressive Marino was in his day, doing things in the NFL that it would take decades to do again.
NFL passing touchdowns leader
- 55 — 2013, Peyton Manning (37 years old)
- 50 — 2007, Tom Brady (30)
- 50 — 2018, Patrick Mahomes (22)
Brady’s 2007 50-touchdown performance is one for the ages and was supposed to last forever, but Manning’s 2013 campaign was a sight to behold as well. Mahomes throwing for 50 at the age of 22 was also thoroughly impressive, beating Marino’s 1984 outing of 48 when he was also just 22 years old. That’s definitely some fine company for the new kid on the block.
NFL pass completion leader
- 471 — 2016, Drew Brees (37 years old)
- 468 — 2011, Drew Brees (32)
- 456 — 2014, Drew Brees (35)
Unlike the other QB records, Drew Brees owns this QB record alone. Brees actually holds six of the top nine completion seasons in total and nine out of the top 24. Brees has basically been the ironman in staying on the field and the king of the short passes.
One thing of note is that the record of 404 completions by Warren Moon set in 1991 stood for over a decade until Rich Gannon broke it with 418 in 2002. In other words, out of the top 30 seasons for completions, only two happened before 2008, with the other 28 all coming in the last 12 years. Another sign that the game has truly changed over time.
All-time QB career records
NFL all-time career passing yards leader
- 86,462 — Tom Brady
- 80,358 — Drew Brees
- 71,940 — Peyton Manning
The Mount Rushmore of NFL QBs definitely includes all three of these signal-callers. The first active player on the list is Matt Ryan. The fact that Brady is still active and already leads this list by more than four thousand yards just goes to show you how impressive his numbers are.
The top three in this category of QB passing yard records show how tough it is to stay on top in the NFL. All three have Super Bowl wins, and all three have played for at least 17 seasons. That is something that could be harder and harder to do as the game speeds up. The first 20 years of the 2000s have truly been magical for NFL fans, though, no doubt.
NFL all-time career passing touchdowns leader
- 632 — Tom Brady
- 571 — Drew Brees
- 539 — Peyton Manning
Again, Brady continues to find himself at the top of most of these records. With nearly 60 more career passing touchdowns than Brees, this record will likely stand for quite some time. The only active player near the top of this list is Aaron Rodgers with 449 TDs.
NFL all-time career pass completion leader
- 7,461 — Tom Brady
- 7,142 — Drew Brees
- 6,300 — Brett Favre
NFL QB rookie records
NFL rookie passing yards leader
- 4,374 — 2012, Andrew Luck
- 4,336 — 2020, Justin Herbert
- 4,051 — 2011, Cam Newton
Now, we turn to the rookie records. That means Brees, Brady, and many others won’t be on these lists.
The surprise name in this category is that of Justin Herbert. As a rookie, the Los Angeles Chargers QB was only 38 yards behind Andrew Luck’s 2012 rookie record for passing yards this season. In addition, Herbert only played in 15 games of the regular season.
Cam Newton’s 2011 season broke Peyton Manning’s 1998 record of 3,739 yards by 312 yards, only to have Luck come along and crush it by 323 yards the very next season. Herbert is the only quarterback to even come close to Luck’s QB record as a rookie. To me, this is something that is being glossed over as we look back at the season as a whole.
NFL rookie passing touchdowns leader
- 31 — 2020, Justin Herbert
- 27 — 2018, Baker Mayfield
- 26 — 2012, Russell Wilson; 1998, Peyton Manning
Another surprise here is how easily Justin Herbert took the rookie passing TD title. Herbert beat the record set by Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Mayfield barely beat the previous record of 26, held by Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning, but Mayfield did it in only 14 games.
NFL rookie pass completion leader
- 396 — 2020, Justin Herbert
- 379 — 2016, Carson Wentz
- 354 — 2010, Sam Bradford
Herbert almost had the rookie passing record and easily won the rookie touchdowns record, so seeing his name here isn’t a shock. Throwing 396 completions is no small feat, even if Herbert played on a Chargers offense frequently playing from behind. He also had ample short passing options to throw to, which boosted his numbers as well.
Carson Wentz and Sam Bradford are second and third on this list, respectively, but neither had long careers at the top. Wentz was benched for Jalen Hurts this year, and his future as a starter in the league is in doubt.
Bradford only played in 14 or more games three times before retiring after his ninth season in the NFL. If Herbert can keep up this kind of pace for 15+ seasons, he could start to be a name we see on the career records lists as well.