When Eli Manning announced his retirement, he avoided breaking a record that he probably would have broken with another season as a starter: The record for the most losses by a starting quarterback in NFL history.
That record currently belongs to Vinny Testaverde, who lost 123 games as a starter during his long NFL career. Manning is in second place in NFL history, with 117 career losses. If Manning hadn’t been benched for Daniel Jones last season, or if he had stayed in the league and become another team’s starter this season, he likely would have surpassed Testaverde’s total.
The active player who has the best chance of breaking Testaverde’s record is Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who currently sits as 111 career losses. Brees would probably have to start two more seasons, but if he were to do that and the Saints were to go, say, 10-6 and 9-7, that would move Brees ahead of Testaverde and into first place on the all-time list.
A few years down the road, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has an excellent chance of breaking the career losses record. Stafford has lost 79 career starts and is only 32 years old. If Stafford played six more years and lost an average of eight games a year, he’d pass Testaverde when he’s 37 years old.
The career losses record isn’t one that any quarterback would want to set, but is also not a black mark on a quarterback’s career. A terrible quarterback is benched, cut and out of the league long before he can lose 100 starts. You have to be a pretty good quarterback to stick around long enough to lose that many games.