Whether you claim the entire history of the franchise called the "Cleveland Browns" or consider this team a different one from what we had before The Move, one thing is clear. Things have been very, very dfiferent since 1999, especially at the quarterback position.
We've all seen the jerseys with double-digit QB names on the back, but even those don't fully capture how crazy this quarterback carousel has been. The Browns have played 24 seasons since returning in 1999, and only three of those 24 have seen them only start one QB for the entire year. That makes 21 times in the last 24 years that we've had at least two different starting QBs.
And it's not like we haven't looked for long-term options in that time. Those 24 seasons have seen a ridiculous 34 different get the start under center. Few have been truly good, but there's been a big spectrum on the bad side, from below-average all the way down to "how did they ever start an NFL game?"
Let's get right into it and do the unfortunate work of ranking all 34 of them, from worst to best.
Every Cleveland Browns Starting Quarterback (Since 1999), Ranked Worst to Best
34. Bruce Gradkowski
Sorry Bruce, but somebody needs to be in last place. And I have a feeling even Gradkowski himself wouldn't argue that his Browns performance wasn't the worst in the group.
Gradkowski started one game for the Browns in his career, appearing in only one other. His first action came in Week 16 in 2008, when he went 2-of-5 for 8 yards with an interception. But this list is just looking at starts, so we can forgive that dud.
Nothing changed in his start though. He went 5-of-16 for only 18 (yes, eighteen) yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. We were, naturally, shut out in that game, Gradkowski did actually get the Browns into field goal range on the first drive, but Phil Dawson missed a 53-yarder and never got near enough to try again.
This first entry raises an important point of distinction on this list, too. Gradkowski is not the worst quarterback to ever start for the Browns. Hew as a serviceable backup with an eight-year NFL career. But on this list we're ranking performances as the Browns' starter, and it's hard to get much worse than a 1.0 passer rating.
33. Ken Dorsey
We can count Dorsey as the worst multi-game starting quarterback in Browns history.
Like Gradkowski his debut as a backup was awful (0/3 with a pick), and things didn’t get a whole lot better as a starter.
Dorsey did manage a couple 100-yard games, but you know things are bad when that’s the silver lining. He completed just 43 of 88 pass attempts (48.8%) for 370 yards with no touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He also fumbled twice while being sacked five times.
Dorsey did orchestrate a couple scoring drives, but the defense and Braylon Edwards get most of the credit for those, Leading your team to 19 points in three games is also not exactly something to hang your hat on.