The Best NFL Quarterback Every Year Since 1988

1988. Boomer Esiason


En route to leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl, Esiason was near the top of every QB leaderboard. Esiason threw 28 touchdown passes — second in the NFL — and finished fourth with 3,572 yards. Esiason led the Bengals to a 12-4 record and two playoff victories, eventually falling short in the Super Bowl in a 20-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Everett also had a great season for the Los Angeles Rams, but Cincinnati’s overall success gives Esiason the slight edge.

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1989. Joe Montana


One of the two or three greatest quarterbacks of all-time, even a 33-year-old Montana proved to be the best player in the league. Coming off a championship, Montana captured MVP honors in 1989, leading the NFL with a 70.2 completion percentage and finishing fourth in touchdown passes (26).

Montana threw an NFL-low eight interceptions for the 14-2 49ers. Montana missed three games due to injury (Steve Young was a passable backup) and eventually rolled through the postseason — 41-13 over Minnesota, 30-3 over the Rams, and 55-10 over Denver in the Super Bowl.

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