Eight days before the LV Super Bowl officially kicked off the NFL’s 2020 season, Calliope’s music could already be heard.

The 2021 league quarterback carousel has begun to spin.

Yes, the Kansas City chiefs and Tampa Bay buccaneers hadn’t made their decision yet, but by Week 30. In January, the Detroit Lions hired quarterback Matthew Stafford – he told Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press last week: I wanted to take a chance – go to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and a lot of recruiting.

And the perpetual and almost always frantic pursuit of their friend behind center has officially begun for the new season. League executives say this offseason could bring the biggest change behind the center from one season to the next ever. A record? There were 30 teams in the league in 1998 when the expansion began in 1999 with the Cleveland Browns – that means 16 of the 30 teams in action in those two seasons changed quarterbacks, or 53%.

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One of the main reasons why so many teams changed their starting BQ this year can be deduced by looking at the teams that did not. Five future members of the Hall of Famers – Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Dan Marino and Peyton Manning – were in place at the time, and seven of the 14 teams that made no changes had a quarterback who already started in at least one Super Bowl for them or would eventually start behind center.

That figure doesn’t even include Cordell Stewart, who made four rushing attempts in Super Bowl XXX as a Steelers rookie before becoming the team’s starting quarterback in 1997.

Jim Harbaugh and Scott Mitchell were the only quarterbacks to start the season for one team in 1998 and the other in 1999. Harbaugh began opening in Baltimore in 1998 and San Diego in 1999. Mitchell began moving to Detroit in 1998 and Baltimore in 1999.

President Bill Clinton was in his second term in September 1999. Song number one was Bailamos by Enrique Iglesias. Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing debut was a week away. And the league added nine new coaches, while the NFL undertook the biggest reform in the history of quarterback play:

Quarterback: Scott Mitchell.

Mitchell opened the 1999 season as a starter for the Ravens, replacing Harbaugh, but the Ravens also threw Stony Case and Tony Banks behind center before the end of their 8-8 season, averaging 189 yards per game.

Quarterback: Doug Flutie.

Rob Johnson, who started six games for the Bills in 1998, was replaced by Flutie – at least until the playoffs. Flutie started 15 games this season with the Bills compiling a record of 11-5, but in the regular season finale Flutie was sidelined along with a number of other starters, with Johnson throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns. The following week, Wade Phillips picked Johnson for the Bills’ Tennessee card game. The Titans won the game in the dying seconds on a Musical Miracle kickoff return.

Quarterback: Steve Boyerlein.

Beuerlein replaced Kerry Collins during the 1998 season – Collins essentially succumbed that year. Beuerlein threw a career-best 4,336-yards and 36 touchdowns for the Panthers in 1999. Beuerlein did not throw more than 19 touchdown passes in his 13 other seasons in the league.

In 1999, Steve Beuerlein had the best year of his long career in the NFL for the Panthers. Ezra O. Shaw/Alsport

Quarterback: Shane Matthews.

Eric Kramer, the 1998 starter, signed with San Diego, and the Bears selected Cade McNown with pick #12 in the 1999 draft. Matthews started the first five games of the season – he has had a total of seven starts this year – McNown started six games and Jim Miller started three.

Quarterback: Jeff Blake

The Bengals fired Neil O’Donnell after the 1998 season, took Akili Smith as the third pick in the 1999 draft and used Jeff Blake in 12 games that season.

Quarterback: Brian Griese

The only organic evolution in this group, as future Hall of Fame member John Elway retired after the Broncos finished the 1998 season by winning their second consecutive Super Bowl. Brian Griese opened the 1999 season as quarterback, a job that became much more difficult when Terrell Davis suffered a knee injury late in the season in Week 4 against the Jets.

Quarterback: Charlie Butch.

The game did not open or end the 1998 season for the Lions, although he started 12 games as a rookie that year. Scott Mitchell started the first two games of the 1998 season and Frank Reich the last. He then opened the 1999 season in the Lions’ starting lineup.

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Quarterback: Randall Cunningham

For a team that finished 15-1 in 1998, the Vikings were certainly running the quarterback depth chart the following season. In 1998, they sent Brad Johnson, who broke his leg in Week 2 and was replaced by Randall Cunningham for the rest of the course, to Washington for three caps. They then used one of those options – number 11 in all – to take Daunte Culpepper when Jeff George, signed in free agency, finally replaced Cunningham as the starting quarterback in Week 7.

Quarterback: Kent Graham.

Graham, who replaced the injured Danny Kanella as the Giants’ starter in the 1998 season, opened and started nine games in 1999 before being replaced by Kerry Collins.

Quarterback: Vinnie Testaverde

Glenn Foley started the 1998 season before a rib injury forced him to remain on the sidelines. Testaverde, who played most of the rest of 1998 in Foley’s place, opened the 1999 season but suffered a tear in his Achilles tendon when the Jets lost Week 1 to the Patriots in the second quarter.

Quarterback: Rich Gannon.

Jeff George, who opened the 1998 season and was one of three quarterbacks to start Raiders games that year (Donald Hollas and Wade Wilson were the others), moved to free agent in 1999, and Rich Gannon began a six-year run behind the scenes with the Raiders that included an MVP award in 2002.

Quarterback: Doug Pederson.

After starting three different quarterbacks in 1998 and finishing 3-13, the Eagles used their second pick in 1999 to select Donovan McNabb as their future quarterback, much to the chagrin of a bus of angry Eagles fans in New York City who booed him in response. However, their future head coach, Doug Pederson, started the first nine games of 1999 before McNabb took over.

Quarterback: Jim Harbaugh.

Ryan Leaf, who started as a rookie in 1998, suffered a shoulder injury at the end of the season during training camp in 1999, so Harbaugh started 12 games that season.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner.

New contractor Trent Green was to replace Tony Banks during the 1999 season, but Green suffered a knee injury at the end of the preseason. The glass slipper was a perfect fit for Warner, as he began his Hall of Fame career with a campaign of 41 TDs and a Super Bowl victory.

Kurt Warner replaced the injured Trent Green and quickly led the Rams to the Super Bowl title. Andy Lyons/Alsport

Quarterback: John Kitna.

Warren Moon, who started 10 games in 1998 at age 42, transferred to Kansas City when Kitna captured the starting lineup in 1999.

Quarterback: Brad Johnson

After Trent Green became the team’s starter in 1998, Washington traded his first, second and third round picks with the Minnesota Vikings for Brad Johnson as the team’s starter in 1999. Two months later, Washington got a pair of draft picks while the New Orleans Saints got eight draft picks (six in 1999, two in 2000) for 5th place overall. Choice of Washington sent when the Saints selected Ricky Williams.

frequently asked questions

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How many NFL quarterbacks played in the 1940s?

In the history of the NFL, there have been 15 quarterbacks who started in the league after age 40.

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