Case Keenum, the most Thursday Night Football–ass quarterback there ever was, will start for the Cleveland Browns in tonight’s game against the Denver Broncos in place of the injured Baker Mayfield. If it was news to you that this nine-year veteran of five NFL teams is still playing professional football, you are not alone.
Keenum has been in Cleveland since March of 2020, and he hasn’t started an NFL game since the last regular-season game of 2019, when he played for the Washington Football Team. He’s best known for orchestrating the Minneapolis Miracle in the Vikings’ playoff win against the Saints in 2018. That was Keenum’s first and also last good season.
“I’m built for this,” Keenum told Cleveland media ahead of tonight’s game. “This is what I’ve done my whole career, not knowing if I’m going to start up until gametime, to not knowing who’s out there with me, to introducing myself to players while I’m calling a play.”
It’s easy to lose track of these guys, who break out in one season or one game and then quickly revert to anonymity—backing into the bushes like Homer Simpson—and then popping up where you least expect them: on your TV. Mike Glennon taking the field for the concussed Daniel Jones two weeks ago was equally shocking. Wait, Blake Bortles was a backup in that Denver quarterback room that ignored all the COVID-19 protocols and forced a practice-squad receiver to start at quarterback? Who the hell is Mike White?
Don’t fret. We are here to help you learn who and where these guys are, so when Jared Goff gets benched next week, you’ll be ready to see David Blough take the field. Here, based on current depth charts, are the guys who are built for this.
Dallas Cowboys: Cooper Rush
Known for: Having a great football name. Rush has been in the league since 2017 with the Cowboys and Giants, but I’m an NFL reporter and this was news to me.
Career earnings, per Spotrac: $2,944,529
New York Giants: Mike Glennon
Known for: Glennon threw two interceptions in relief of Daniel Jones in the Giants’ 20-44 loss to Dallas in Week 5. Also the guy the Bears paid an ungodly amount of money to start just four games. However, he’ll always be the guy with the long neck.
Career earnings: $31,967,539
Philadelphia Eagles: Joe Flacco
Known for: Super Bowl XLVII MVP. Earning a big-ass contract which prompted the question of whether he was elite.
Career earnings: $171,075,000
Washington Football Team: Kyle Allen
Known for: Winning his first five starts with the Panthers in relief of Cam Newton in 2018 and 2019. Also, Allen was the No. 1 rated pro-style quarterback in the high school class of 2014, but he lost his job to Kyler Murray at Texas A&M and then transferred to Houston.
Career earnings: $2,530,648
Chicago Bears: Andy Dalton
Known for: The Red Rifle quarterbacked the Bengals for nine seasons. After a backup year in Dallas that turned into a starter role after Dak Prescott was lost for the season, Dalton got another job starting in Chicago until the injury gods decided in Week 2 that it was Justin Fields time. In Week 5 this season, Fields had to leave the game briefly after tweaking his knee, and Dalton did not even have his rib protector on (!!!). What are you even doing, man?
Career earnings: $96,627,794
Detroit Lions: David Blough
Known for: In his first NFL start on Thanksgiving Day in 2019, Blough lit up the Bears defense, completing 22 of 38 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Obviously, the Lions still lost. Name rhymes with “plow.”
Career earnings: $1,880,331
Green Bay Packers: Jordan Love
Known for: His presence drove Aaron Rodgers to pour himself a stiff tequila drink, sending the franchise into total disarray in the 2021 offseason.
Career earnings: $8,349,032
Minnesota Vikings: Kellen Mond
Known for: Getting COVID-19 during training camp and exposing Kirk Cousins, who then said he would have meetings outside in the winter and surround himself in plastic rather than get vaccinated.
Career earnings: $1,818,848
[Update: I had it wrong, Kellen Mond is third-string. Here’s Sean Mannion’s.]
Known for: Starting the regular-season finale for the Rams (in their Super Bowl–losing season), who had already locked up a playoff berth. He lost the game.
Career earnings: $6,205,461
Atlanta Falcons: Josh Rosen
Known for: Being my personal favorite backup! I had fully lost track of Rosen after he was caught in the stands at the Buccaneers game last year as a member of the practice squad. Rosen is known for being a guy who has interests outside of football, and football guys think that might be why he is bad at football. He was drafted in the first round by the Cardinals and then replaced the very next year. Then he went to Miami as a backup and failed to beat out Fitz or Tua. He was also on the 49ers at one point? At least he’s made decent money.
Career earnings: $18,661,992
Carolina Panthers: P.J. Walker
Known for: This guy killed it in the XFL in 2020. He was 5-0 before the league shut down.
Career earnings: $1,865,519
New Orleans Saints: Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian
Combined age: 60
Known for: The Saints are one of the few teams to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster. You know who Hill is. Siemian is the seventh-round pick who struggled at Northwestern and then succeeded Peyton F***ing Manning as the Broncos starter and won his first four games in 2016. It’s been downhill since then.
Combined career earnings: $29,349,775
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Blaine Gabbert
Known for: Busting in Jacksonville. Now he’s a Super Bowl champion.
Career earnings: $23,714,351
Arizona Cardinals: Colt McCoy
Known for: Another great football name. McCoy is better known for his Texas Longhorns career than anything he’s done in the NFL.
Career earnings: $20,447,980
Los Angeles Rams: John Wolford
Known for: Getting caught up in the Jared Goff/Sean McVay drama. Wolford started the Rams’ Week 17 game in place of Goff, who broke his thumb the previous week. A playoff berth was on the line and Wolford threw a pick on his first attempt, but then became the first quarterback to pass for 200-plus yards and rush for 50-plus yards in an NFL debut. The Rams won. Wolford started the wild card game instead of Goff, who felt that he should have been named the starter.
Career earnings: $1,712,299
San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance
Known for: Being the future face of the franchise for the 49ers. Lance was the third quarterback picked, after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. He started one game in place of an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, but is not expected to start again this week.
Career earnings: $22,823,836
Seattle Seahawks: Jacob Eason
Known for: Transferring from Georgia to make way for Jake Fromm. Eason started this season as a member of the Colts and played in relief of Carson Wentz in Week 2. Seattle claimed him off waivers literally yesterday. He backs up Geno Smith, who stepped in for the injured Russell Wilson.
Career earnings: $2,122,264
Buffalo Bills: Mitchell Trubisky
Known for: Being drafted ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, and part of a storied lineage of bad Bears quarterbacks.
Career earnings: $31,686,690
Miami Dolphins: Jacoby Brissett
Known for: Becoming the Colts’ starting quarterback unexpectedly for the 2019 season when Andrew Luck retired. His first career start came during Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension, after Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt. Brissett has started three games this season when Tagovailoa was injured, and returned to the backup role in Week 6.
Career earnings: $38,231,475
New England Patriots: Brian Hoyer
Known for: It feels like Hoyer has been in the NFL for the last 20 years, but really it’s only been 13. I associate Hoyer the most with being Brady’s backup, and this Hard Knocks scene (back when the show was still good) where Bill O’Brien names him the starter (he was then benched in the fourth quarter of the first game for Ryan Mallett).
Career earnings: $30,971,545
New York Jets: Mike White
Known for: Being non-threatening to Zach Wilson, I guess.
Career earnings: $2,090,813
Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Huntley
Known for: Playing the whole fourth quarter of the playoff loss to the Bills after Lamar Jackson left with a concussion. Huntley, an undrafted free agent out of Utah, seized the opportunity after RGIII landed on injured reserve with a hamstring last year. RGIII now works for ESPN.
Career earnings: $1,106,236
Cincinnati Bengals: Brandon Allen
Known for: Posting the hard-to-achieve 0.0 passer rating last season against the Ravens.
Career earnings: $4,176,404
Cleveland Browns: Case Keenum
Known for: We went over this up top.
Career earnings: $44,184,877
Pittsburgh Steelers: Mason Rudolph
Known for: Getting brained by Myles Garrett with his own helmet.
Career earnings: $6,373,217
Houston Texans: Jeff Driskel
Known for: Being part of the Broncos’ quarterback room (along with Bortles) that, per this L.A. Times report, removed their contact tracing devices and placed them in the corners of the room, so they could sit closer together. Elite decision-making.
Career earnings: $6,301,177
Indianapolis Colts: Brett Hundley
Known for: Filling in for Aaron Rodgers in 2017 after Anthony Barr broke Rodgers’s collarbone.
Career earnings: $5,819,759
Jacksonville Jaguars: C.J. Beathard
Known for: Being the grandson of Hall of Fame executive Bobby Beathard.
Career earnings: $6,387,465
Tennessee Titans: Logan Woodside
Most known for: ???
Career earnings: $1,618,797
Kansas City Chiefs: Chad Henne
Known for: The epic Chad vs. Chad quarterback battle in Miami circa 2010. Henne took Pennington’s job in 2009 when Pennington got hurt, and then Pennington stole it back in 2010 after Henne went 4-4 to start the season. Also, preserving a Chiefs playoff win against the Browns last season when Mahomes left in the third quarter with a concussion.
Career earnings: $36,605,500
Las Vegas Raiders: Marcus Mariota
Known for: Busting with the Titans.
Career earnings: $57,791,683
Los Angeles Chargers: Chase Daniel
Known for: You didn’t really think you would get through this list without seeing Chase Daniel’s name, did you? Daniel is the current poster boy of backups, a career clipboard holder, collecting that cash and “guiding” the youth, though I’m willing to bet Justin Herbert does not need his help.
Career earnings: $38,903,471