For the first time since the turn of the century, the NFL world is going to be without its winningest player of all time in Tom Brady, who announced his retirement earlier this offseason. Of course, losing the greatest player in the history of the sport does leave a massive hole in the game, particularly at the quarterback position.
But the cupboard isn't barren. There's a case to be made that the QB position has never been as solid as it is today. That's how Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the clear-cut top player in the league, sees it.
"I would say maybe top to bottom," Mahomes told Complex when asked if this is the most talented the quarterback position has been in NFL history. "You look back and you got like Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, freaking Troy Aikman, [John] Elway. There's been some Hall of Famers that have all played in the same era, but I think top to bottom, it's hard to find a spot on any team [where] the quarterback's not a guy that you can see win playoff games. And I think that's made it so special. I think that comes with development, coaching, and evolution of the quarterback position.
"So I think it's definitely a golden era for the quarterback position. Maybe we don't have those Hall of Fame guys yet at the top, but one through 32, I mean there's quarterbacks that don't even get a chance to start that are great players."
As Mahomes noted, today's group does have some stiff competition when you simply look at the cream of the crop. In the '80s and 90s, the likes of Montana, Marino, and Elway were all soon-to-be gold jacket wearers, while Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger dominated the next two decades.
The jury is still out on who'll end up as an all-time great in today's group, but Mahomes is correct to highlight the depth. Just last season, Brock Purdy -- the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft -- was able to propel the 49ers to an NFC Championship appearance, which is a testament to the talent in today's game at the position.
"There's like 10 top five quarterbacks," Mahomes said when asked to rank his top five. "But I mean you got to look at the track record the last few years. I mean you got me, Joe [Burrow], Josh [Allen], you got Lamar [Jackson], you got Jalen Hurts, who's coming up strong after this last season, I'm sure he'll be even better this next [year]. You got Trevor Lawrence, Justin Herbert. ... I mean there's so many quarterbacks, I don't want to just name five. But I mean even the guys that are injured: you got Kyler Murray coming off injury, you got Russell Wilson, who can have a bounce back year, Aaron Rodgers.
"There's so many quarterbacks in this league, it's hard to put five. And I guess the best thing about this league is you have the top five quarterbacks this year and then next year it could be completely different."
One thing that isn't in question is who sits at the top. Mahomes is fresh off his second Super Bowl title and is currently primed to be the face of this new golden era at the quarterback position.