Every Chargers starting quarterback ever: Full list

Los Angeles Chargers v Minnesota Vikings
Los Angeles Chargers v Minnesota Vikings / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The LA Chargers have had exceptional quarterback luck over the last two decades with two Hall of Famers paving the way for one of the best current quarterbacks in the sport. As poorly as things have gone in recent years, the Chargers haven't struggled at quarterback.

It was not always like that, though, as there was plenty of quarterback roulette being played early in franchise history. In total, there have been 42 different players who have suited up as the Chargers starting quarterback for at least one game.

Every Chargers starting quarterback ever:

Philip Rivers - 224 games started

The greatest quarterback in franchise history finally got the starting job in 2006 and did not miss a single game until he eventually left for the Indianapolis Colts in 2020. Philip Rivers is one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks of all time and should been enshrined in Canton soon.

Dan Fouts - 171 games started

Dan Fouts was the best quarterback in Chargers history until Rivers put together a great career. Fouts' career with the Chargers isn't just important because he is a Hall of Famer, but because he revolutionized the passing offense alongside Don Coryell.

John Hadl - 123 games started

John Hadl is the forgotten-about great Chargers quarterback. While his numbers do not stand up to modern standards, he was a five-time Pro Bowler in his 11 seasons with the Bolts throughout the 1960s and early '70s.

Stan Humphries - 76 games started

The only quarterback on this list to make the Super Bowl with the Chargers, Stan Humphries was the captain of the ship for the Chargers in the 1990s. Humphries was a perfectly fine quarterback but if the Chargers had a quarterback as talented as Rivers or Fouts then perhaps the team would have a Super Bowl win.

Justin Herbert - 62 games started

The current starter is already fifth on this list and should surpass Humphries for fourth place after the 2024 season. Justin Herbert is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and if he does not end up in the top three of this list, at least, then it is a failure by the Bolts.

Drew Brees - 58 games started

Drew Brees will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time but not because of his time with the Chargers. Brees was perfectly fine with the Chargers but he did not blossom into a Hall of Fame quarterback until he paired up with Sean Payton in New Orleans.

Jack Kemp - 28 games started

Jack Kemp was an All Pro in 1960 when the Chargers were originally in Los Angeles. Kemp and the Chargers lost in the AFL Championship in 1960 but the quarterback would go on to win two AFL crowns with the Buffalo Bills.

John Friesz - 23 games started

Selected in the sixth round of the 1990 NFL Draft, John Freisz earned the starting job in his second season and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns. Friesz then became Humphries backup before eventually leaving.

Doug Flutie - 22 games started

Doug Flutie is well-known for his Boston College hail mary and his time dominating the Canadian Football League, not his stint with the Chargers. Flutie started 22 games across a four-year stretch, making his last start with the team at 42 years old.

Tobin Rote - 20 games started

Tobin Rote started his career back in 1950 with the Green Bay Packers and it took him 13 years to find his way to the Chargers. After a three-year stint in the CFL, Rote joined the Bolts in 1963 and was an All Pro in his first season. Rote's completion percentage fell to 45.4% in his second season before subsequently left the team.

Billy Joe Tolliver - 19 games started

Billy Joe Tolliver started five games in 1989 and was the primary starter for the Bolts in 1990. The Chargers went 6-8 in his 14 starts in 1990 and he lost his starting job as a result. Tolliver was then traded to the Atlanta Falcons.

Ryan Leaf - 18 games started

One of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, Ryan Leaf's tenure could not have gone any worse on the Chargers. To make matters even worse, Leaf was selected right after Peyton Manning, who could not have had a more different career.

Jim Harbaugh - 17 games started

The current Chargers head coach started 17 games for the team and this connection may have had an impact on him coming back to coach in 2024. Harbaugh may not have been an amazing quarterback, but he is a great head coach.

Craig Wheilhan - 14 games started

Craig Wheilhan started 14 games for the Chargers in 1997 and 1998 and went 2-12 as a starter. He has the worst winning percentage among any quarterback in franchise history with at least 10 starts.

James Harris - 11 games started

A one-time Pro Bowler with the Rams, Harris was a backup for several years who made sporadic starts for the Chargers. He managed to throw 21 interceptions with the Chargers despite only making 11 starts.

Jim McMahon - 11 games started

The two-time Super Bowl Champion spent one year in San Diego after a long tenure with the Chicago Bears. Jim McMahon was traded to the Chargers and it turned out the Bears defense really did carry the team. McMahon went 4-7 as a starter with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Every Chargers starting quarterback with fewer than 10 starts:


Games started


Ed Luther



Mark Malone



Mark Herrmann



Jesse Freitas



Babe Laufenberg



Marty Domres



Johnny Unitas



Wayne Clark



Erik Kramer



Easton Stick



Tom Flick



Mark Vlasic



Bob Clatterbuck



Dick Wood



Steve Tensi



Rick Neuheisel



Gale Gilbert



Sean Salisbury



Moses Moreno



Virgil Carter



Clint Longley



Cliff Olander



Mike Kelley



Bob Gagliano



Jim Everett



Tyrod Taylor



There have been some big-name quarterbacks who briefly started for the Bolts. No one is bigger than Johnny Unitas, who ended his career with the Chargers after a Hall of Fame stint with the Baltimore Colts.

Former Rams Pro Bowl quarterback (and Mike Rome-fighter) Jim Everett also wrapped up his career with the Chargers, making just one start opossed to Unitas' four. Tyrod Taylor will always be remembered as the ultimate stopgap quarterback, too, as he started the one game between Rivers and Herbert.