The 10 best quarterbacks in the history of the Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has had a fairly rich history of good quarterbacks. These are the 10 best.
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck during Super Bowl XL
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck during Super Bowl XL /

The Seattle Seahawks are one of the NFL’s younger franchises but have had their share of great quarterbacks. Since entering the league in 1976, Seattle has been a solid NFL franchise. The team has been to three Super Bowls, winning one, with no long stretches of bad teams.

The NFL is a coach- and quarterback-driven league, so a team with a quality quarterback stands a better chance of being successful. A team with a great quarterback could be dangerous. Many times, a top quarterback can make all the difference between a championship or falling short, such as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes versus the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII.

To be honest, though, a list of Seattle’s best quarterbacks in the history of the team is, at most, a three-person group with the top two being the clear best. That said, one of Seattle’s 10 best quarterbacks was the signal-caller in the team’s inaugural season of 1976. Also on the list is the quarterback who followed him. The Seahawks have been a fairly fortunate team with the quality of their options under center.

Criteria for selection

Seattle has been pretty lucky. Just as it has not had years followed by other years of being terrible, the franchise has also not gone seasons and seasons without having a near-All-Pro quarterback leading the offense. But what makes one Seattle quarterback better than another?

There are three staples for this, and they are relatively simple. One is that the quarterback has to spend more than one season with the team. Any player can accidentally wind up on a team and then move on the next year. That shouldn't make that player a true Seahawk.

Another staple is that the player has to produce. We might not say Trent Dilfer was a great quarterback for the 2001 Baltimore Ravens, for instance, even though his team won the Super Bowl. Dilfer succeeded because his team was good, not the other way around. Plus, sometimes a quarterback can put up good statistics and his team can still fail because there isn't a lot of talent around him.

The final staple is a quarterback needs to lead his team to some level of success. This one is hardest to reach because many times, the team doesn't help the quarterback much. However, those quarterbacks who win a bunch, especially if they are consistently leading their team to come-from-behind wins, will be higher on this list.

The top 10 quarterbacks in Seattle Seahawks history

10. John Friesz

I promise, 12s, we are getting closer to the really good quarterbacks in Seahawks lore. The ones you will tell your grandchildren you saw take the ring out of the shire and bury it deep in Mount Doom. But we are not there yet. And please, no disrespect to Mr. John Friesz of Homeleigh, the Burrows, Oswestry, who as much as he might like can still be seen on the Seattle playing field.

Or at least he could between the years of 1995 and 1998 when Friesz threw 416 passes for Seattle and had a record of 6-5. Friesz also threw for 16 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions ,which is a pretty decent ratio during that era of professional football.

The most Friesz ever started was six games in 1996, and he led Seattle to a 4-2 record that season. He also threw for eight touchdowns and just four interceptions. How did he not make the Pro Bowl, y’all? He even had a quarterback rating of 86.4. Don’t sneeze at that. In 1996, had Friesz played a full season with that QBR, he would have finished sixth in the NFL.

9. Seneca Wallace

Seneca Wallace will be the last of the Seahawks quarterbacks who did not win double-digit games. In fact, Wallace was just 5-9 in his Seattle career. But he was a spot starter on several not-good Seattle teams in the late 2000s. Had Wallace been on many other NFL teams, though, he might have started.

Wallace played with Matt Hasselbeck and never really had a chance to start. More on Hasselbeck in a bit, but Wallace might have been a Seattle starter full-time for many years had he not played when he did.

Still, even though playing in limited time, Wallace has the eighth-most passing yards in Seattle history with 3,547. Wallace started 14 games, which are almost an NFL season. Take his combined years with Seattle and make them into a year and he would have thrown for all those yards and for 25 touchdowns against 14 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 83.1. Not bad stuff.

Wallace left Seattle after the 2009 season and played three more years. He started just eight more games in his career, two with the Browns and one with Green Bay. Wallace was 1-7 in those combined starts. He was a quarterback who deserved better and had more talent than his statistics show. That is why he is No. 8 on this list.

8. Rick Mirer

To be fair, putting Rick Mirer on this list of the 10 best Seahawks quarterbacks at all might be an offense to some 12s. But his statistics alone are better than most people who have been a quarterback for Seattle. Did Mirer’s lack of ability set the franchise back for some years? Yes. But his numbers still put him in the top 10 of Seattle quarterbacks.

In 1993, Seattle chose Mirer with the second overall pick. Even then, some pundits were saying he was an overreach, and they proved correct. Mirer started 51 games for Seattle. He was 20-31 in those contests. The problem was that he threw 41 touchdown passes but also completed 56 passes to the opposing team. That is terrible.

Mirer actually stands fifth in Seahawks history in passing yards with 9,094 and fifth in touchdown passes thrown. When it comes to QBR, however, he is 12th among anyone with four or more starts. Mirer did play behind a terrible line as he has one of the highest sack percentages (8.3 percent of the time he dropped back, he was tackled with the ball) in Seattle lineage. But he was also a statue without much ability to escape the rush.

7. Geno Smith

Some 12s might not be huge fans of Smith being this high on the list. The question is why, though? Possibly, he will always be looked upon as a career backup after being a washout at the beginning of his career. This is unfair for lots of reasons, let alone that Smith sat behind some great quarterbacks at various times of his career, such as Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning.

In his first two seasons as the full-time starter for Seattle — 2022 and 2023 — Smith proved he was a worthy starter, too. He quickly moved up Seattle's best-of list in terms of completion percentage and quarterback rating. He also had the fifth-most game-winning drives in franchise history, but in fewer seasons than anyone else in the top seven of the same mark.

Smith's quarterback rating in two seasons was 97.3, second only to Wilson and far ahead of every other quarterback. He will likely rank fifth in passing yards, fifth in wins, and potentially fourth in touchdown passes by the time he is done in Seattle. He might not be a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he was better than most thought he would be.

6. Jon Kitna

Hello, 12s. We have two more quarterbacks on this list who were decent but not truly among the really good quarterbacks in Seahawks lore. The first of those two is Jon Kitna, who immediately followed Mirer’s time in Seattle. He did not start until his third year in the league, though.

Kitna was signed as an undrafted free agent by then-Seattle coach Dennis Erickson in 1996. For the next season, he was on Seattle’s practice squad and then played in NFL Europe. But he returned to be Warren Moon‘s backup for the 1997 season and a lot of 1998 as well. Kitna, however, started the last five games of 1998 and did enough to have Seattle make him the full-time starter in 1999 and a lot of 2000.

In 1998, Kitna went 3-2 for a Seattle team that finished 8-8. When he became the starter in 1999, he led the team to an 8-7 record and missed one game. He threw for 3,346 yards and 23 touchdowns that season. His average yards per catch to his receivers was what would be a career-high for him at 12.4.

Kitna went on to play for three more teams after leaving Seattle, including starting 46 games for the Bengals. But he would never have had an NFL career had Seattle not taken a chance on him.

5. Warren Moon

We all know Warren Moon did not make his NFL bones as a member of the Seahawks. For the first 10 years of his NFL career, he played for the Houston Astros or Texans or something. Oh, the Oilers, that’s what it was. And not Edmonton either.

That last bit is a bit of a travesty because Moon wrongly had to start his career in Edmonton in the Canadian Football League after playing college football at the University of Washington. For five seasons, Moon played in the CFL. This meant he lost five years that he could have been in the NFL. That is a bit of a travesty.

That could be partly because the league hadn't yet embraced Black quarterbacks, who were a lot less common than they are in the NFL today. The league has come to the correct realization that people of all backgrounds can be great players at any position. Houston learned that when Moon became a perennial Pro Bowler and eventual Hall of Famer in 2006.

Moon only played two years in Seattle, but he was still good even in his late 30s. He played 24 games with the Seahawks but is still seventh in touchdowns thrown (36) and in yards (5,310).

4. Jim Zorn

Jim Zorn was the most important player in the early years of the Seahawks franchise. He was the starting quarterback when the team incepted, and he would have been better served had he been the starter at nearly any other time in Seattle history. Zorn was a smart player, if not overly physically gifted as a passer.

What he could do, though, was move around a bit, and this saved his own skin and the Seattle team quite a bit. Zorn went 40-60 in his nine seasons as a Seattle starter, which isn’t too bad considering it was a young team with no real talent or depth. At least until a few years into its existence when they added players like Kenny Easley.

Zorn was eventually superseded by a better quarterback (see No. 3 in just a minute!), but his numbers are leagues better than anyone else other than the top three quarterbacks in Seattle history. He finished with 20,122 yards passing for Seattle in his nine seasons. The next best is Mirer, who is over 10,000 yards behind.

Zorn is also fourth in touchdowns thrown (107) and passes thrown (2,990) and completions (1,593). He has the fourth most wins with Seattle, 20 ahead of Mirer . Maybe the most important bit is that was sacked just 6.3 percent of the time on his dropbacks, which is even less than Russell Wilson. Behind a bad offensive line, he managed to stay alive and keep Seattle fairly relevant.

3. Dave Krieg

Dave Krieg led the Seahawks to a lot of firsts. He was the first quarterback to lead Seattle to the playoffs (1983), the first to have a playoff win (again, 1983), the first Seattle quarterback to make the Pro Bowl (1984), and led the NFL in touchdown percentage thrown per attempt three times. Krieg also threw 32 touchdown passes in 1984, which was the Seattle record for touchdowns in a season until Russell Wilson broke it in 2015.

Krieg’s Seattle teams went to the playoffs four times. Behind Wilson, he has the second-best QBR of any Seattle quarterback with more than 14 career starts (82.3). And besides the best two quarterbacks in Seahawks history, Krieg is far above anyone else.

Krieg’s winning percentage trails just Wilson as he went 70-49. He is third all-time in passing yards thrown (26,132), and until recently led the franchise in career touchdown passes thrown (195).

One of the problems was that he let himself get sacked far too often. His sack percentage of 8.7 percent is much higher than Zorn’s or Hasselbeck’s and is less great than Wilson’s too. This even though Krieg arguably had better offensive lines than Wilson.

There is no doubt, however, that Dave Krieg is Seattle’s third-best quarterback in franchise history, and without him, Seattle would have struggled much more in the early years.

2. Matt Hasselbeck

Matt Hasselbeck was the first Seahawks quarterback to lead the team to a Super Bowl. Sure, Seattle lost on a bunch of bad calls and fell short of winning a championship, falling 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Hasselbeck did his part and was almost always a solid playoff performer.

The last three Seattle teams Hasselbeck played on were not that good, even though they made the playoffs in 2010. Other than those last three seasons, Hasselbeck’s Seahawks teams went 57-39 and made the playoffs in five straight years between 2003 and 2007. Seattle’s first Super Bowl year was in 2005.

Hasselbeck was a three-time Pro Bowler. He was the franchise leader in passing yards with 29,434 before Russell Wilson topped him. He was also the all-time franchise leader in pass attempts (4,250) and completions (2,559) before Wilson beat him and remains third in wins (69) and touchdown passes (174).

Hasselbeck led his teams to four straight NFC West titles. Three of his teams won at least 10 games. Was he among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL? No. But he was a better leader than most quarterbacks who ever played in the league. That is a big reason Hasselbeck is the second-best quarterback in Seattle’s history.

1. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson is the best quarterback in Seahawks lore, and the numbers back this fact up. Plus, think of the seasons in the late 2010s, and then think of where Seattle would be without Wilson. 12s should be happy with all of the victories Wilson brought them.

Since Wilson entered the league in 2012, Seattle missed the playoffs only once. He led Seattle to two Super Bowls and got Seattle its first championship in 2013. Did he do it on his own? No. But a big reason Seattle won as much as it did over the 2010s was because of Wilson.

Wilson crushes all competitors in terms of raw statistics when compared to other Seattle quarterbacks. He ranks first in passing yards, touchdown passes, wins, QBR (no one else is even close here), completion percentage, yards per pass, yards per game, and game-winning drives (again, no one is a close second in this category).

Sure, things got a bit ugly at the end of his time in Seattle. He reportedly went to Seahawks chairperson Jody Allen and requested that the team fire head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Whether the report was true, it was at least believable. Instead of firing Carroll and Schneider, the team traded Wilson.

That will be a lasting memory for 12s, but so will Wilson leading the team to so many victories. He might always be divisive now that his time in Seattle is done, but while he was with the Seahawks, he was one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. He certainly is the franchise's best quarterback ever.

The 10 best quarterbacks in Seattle Seahawks history by wins



Years with Seahawks

Wins as starting quarterback


Russell Wilson




Dave Krieg




Matt Hasselbeck




Jim Zorn




Rick Mirer




Geno Smith




Jon Kitna




Warren Moon




Trent Dilfer




Tarvaris Jackson



Andy Reid says one former Seahawks head coach is the GOAT. dark. Next. Andy Reid says one former Seahawks head coach is the GOAT