Don't read if you haven't got five minutes... the list is disputable and not up-to-date but that's not the point. I didn't write it but think it appropriate and accurate.
What is a franchise quarterback? You see the word tossed around so much, but no one knows the exact meaning. Everyone talks about who is a franchise QB, but not what is a franchise QB. You can't label a franchise QB unless you know what it is.
The player must match certain criteria to be considered a franchise quarterback: consistency, talent, leadership/maturity, and football intelligence.
In order to be a franchise quarterback or to find one, the player needs to be able to perform a certain level all the time. That doesn't mean he has to be spectacular, but he can perform at a good performance day in and day out.
Someone who throws five touchdown passes and no interceptions in one game, then throws five interceptions and no touchdowns the next would not make a good franchise quarterback.
If someone throws two touchdown passes and one interception in one game, and then repeats that performance every game, that is one step to becoming a "franchise QB."
You can run the ball as many times as you like, your defense can score as many points as you like. But the fact remains, if your quarterback is a bum, your team will suffer.
Some teams feature a run first offense, where the quarterback is more of a game manager, but when he is needed, a true franchise QB can step up and make big plays for his team.
Quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Jake Delhomme, or Ben Roethlisberger aren't asked to throw a lot, nor is anyone expecting great numbers to come out of them. But when the time comes, they all can step up their game, Roethlisberger in particular.
Players look to their quarterback. They look to them for help, they look for them for guidance, and if a QB is not willing to accept that role, then they're not set to be a franchise player.
The entire offense runs around the quarterback, and it's his job to rally his team around him, or they all crumble.
This also includes being a team player. If a quarterback is more concerned about his passer rating over his teams win-loss record, he is doomed for failure.
He must be able to accept responsibility for his mistakes, and not point fingers and cast blame on other offensive players for his shortcomings. He must be able to remain cool under pressure and keep his composure when things get sour.
If he's cracking under pressure, and being a self-centered crybaby, then he isn't qualified.
I'm not talking about the player's IQ or Wonderlic score, I'm talking about his on field head game. The quarterback has to know what is going on the field at all times, no exceptions.
He needs to know where the safeties, where his receivers are going. He needs to be able to pick up a blitz and correctly change the play. If there are seven DB's on the field, he should know not to pass it unless he absolutely has to.
This also includes decision making. If he decides to continuously throw the ball into triple coverage, or decides to rush the ball himself into a blitz, he isn't a franchise quarterback.
So using the following criteria, you can now make an 'opinionated' list of the franchise quarterbacks of the NFL, who is becoming a franchise quarterback, and who has the potential to be a franchise QB.
Failed Franchise Quarterbacks
Alex Smith—San Fransisco 49ers
Marc Bulger—St. Louis Rams
Derek Anderson—Cleveland Browns
Tyler Thigpen—Kansas City Chiefs
Kyle Boller—Baltimore Ravens (2003-08)
Potential Franchise Quarterbacks
JaMarcus Russell—Oakland Raiders
Matt Stafford—Detroit Lions
Brady Quinn—Cleveland Browns
Shaun Hill—San Fransisco 49ers
Vince Young—Tennessee Titans
Troy Smith—Baltimore Ravens
Matt Leinart—Arizona Cardinals
Up-and-Coming Franchise Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan—Atlanta Falcons- All criteria, needs another year
Joe Flacco—Baltimore Ravens- All criteria, needs another year
Matt Cassel—Kansas City Chiefs- All criteria, needs another year
Jay Cutler—Chicago Bears- All criteria, new team
Kyle Orton—Denver Broncos- All criteria, new team
Carson Palmer—Cincinnati Bengals- Needs to stay healthy
Trent Edwards—Buffalo Bills- Needs consistency
Jason Campbell—Washington Redskins- Needs consistency
David Garrard—Jacksonville Jaguars- Needs consistency
Matt Schaub—Houston Texans- Needs to stay healthy
Kerry Collins—Tennessee Titans- Needs consistency
Matt Hasselbeck—Seattle Seahawks- Needs consistency/stay healthy
Current Franchise Quarterbacks
Drew Brees—New Orleans Saints
Phillip Rivers—San Diego Chargers
Tom Brady—New England Patriots
Eli Manning—New York Giants
Peyton Manning—Indianapolis Colts
Aaron Rodgers—Green Bay Packers
Tony Romo—Dallas Cowboys
Donovan McNabb—Philadelphia Eagles
Ben Roethlisberger—Pittsburgh Steelers
Kurt Warner—Arizona Cardinals
Jake Delhomme—Carolina Panthers
Chad Pennington—Miami Dolphins
I hope you found this list and definition interesting. Hopefully now that people know what a franchise QB really is, people will throw around that word with a little more thought.