Ranking the Top 5 Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks of All Time

May 6, 2024

Where does three-time Super Bowl champ Troy Aikman land among the best QBs in Cowboys history?

Troy Aikman

While one of the NFL’s more storied franchises, the Dallas Cowboys have struggled to return to prominence over the last three decades. They have just four playoff victories since 1996 and haven’t strung together multiple playoff wins in the same postseason since winning Super Bowl 30 against the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 1995 season.

Quarterback Troy Aikman led the charge that year to claim his third and final Super Bowl title. Aikman is considered one of the franchise’s all-time great quarterbacks, but is he the best?

We took a look at every quarterback in Cowboys history and compiled a list of the top five. Where does Aikman, the No. 1 overall pick in the star-studded 1989 NFL Draft, rank among the Cowboys’ all-time passing greats?

1Roger Staubach

Roger Staubach was well worth the wait for the Cowboys

Roger Staubach Dallas CowboysMalcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

While Aikman has one more Super Bowl title than Roger Staubach, we gave the slight edge in the top spot here to Staubach, who was worth the wait for Dallas. The Cowboys selected Staubach in the 10th round of the 1964 NFL Draft, but because of his military commitment after attending the Naval Academy, he didn’t begin his career with the Cowboys until the age of 27.

While he began his pro career in 1969, Staubach didn’t become the team’s true starting quarterback until the 1971 season, as he split time with Craig Morton his first couple of years. After going 3-1 in four starts over his first two seasons, Staubach went 10-0 in 1971 and finished second in the NFL MVP voting. He then led the Cowboys to a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl 6, earning Super Bowl MVP honors.

Roger Staubach Cowboys Stats
Seasons 11
Games/Starts 131/114
Record 85-29
Comp% 57.0
Pass Yards 22,700
Pass TD 153
Interceptions 109
Rating 83.4

A separated shoulder forced Staubach to miss most of the 1972 season, but he returned in 1973 and led the Cowboys to a 10-4 record after throwing an NFL-best 23 touchdown passes.

Staubach’s final five years with the Cowboys were all Pro Bowl seasons, and he went 54-18 during that stretch. In 1977, he guided Dallas to another Super Bowl title by defeating the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl 12.

In his 11-year NFL career, all of which was spent with the Cowboys, Staubach went 85-29. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

2Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman won three Super Bowls in four years with the Cowboys

Troy Aikman Dallas CowboysRVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Aikman certainly was in the running for the top spot after securing three Super Bowl championships during his Hall of Fame career.

As mentioned, the Cowboys selected Aikman with the top pick in 1989, ahead of Barry Sanders and Deion Sanders, and the pick seemed suspect after the first season. While Barry Sanders ran for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns to earn Rookie of the Year honors, and Deion Sanders picked off five passes and returned a punt for a touchdown, Aikman struggled.

The former UCLA signal-caller went 0-11 in his 11 starts and threw nine touchdown passes while tossing 18 interceptions. It took two seasons of experience and a 7-19 record during that span before Aikman rattled off the first of six straight Pro Bowl seasons in 1991.

Troy Aikman Cowboys Stats
Seasons 12
Games/Starts 165/165
Record 94-71
Comp% 61.5
Pass Yards 32,942
Pass TD 165
Interceptions 141
Rating 81.6

There was never anything overly flashy about Aikman. He simply got the job done. Anchored by a strong running game, highlighted by Emmitt Smith, and a sound defense, the Cowboys won the Super Bowl following the 1992, 1993, and 1995 seasons, with Aikman running the show.

Statistically, Aikman’s best season came in 1992, when he threw for a career-high 3,445 yards, also tossing a career-best 23 touchdown passes. He also took Super Bowl MVP honors in the Cowboys’ 52-17 Super Bowl blowout of the Buffalo Bills, completing 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

In 1993, he completed an NFL-best 69.1% of his passes and went 11-3 in his 14 regular-season starts.

Aikman spent all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Cowboys. He went 94-71 as a starter and ranks second on the team’s all-time passing list with 32,942 yards.

3Tony Romo

Tony Romo ranks No. 1 on the Cowboys’ all-time passing yards list

Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys QBMatthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Quick, who’s the Cowboys’ all-time passing yards leader? If you guessed Staubach or Aikman, you’re wrong. It’s Tony Romo, who finished his 13-year career with 34,183 yards. While Staubach and Aikman are known for their Super Bowl victories, Romo is known for his numbers. In fact, a strong argument could be made that Romo belongs at No. 2 on this list.

Aikman was surrounded by far better talent than Romo, yet Romo had a better regular-season winning percentage (61.4% to 57.0%). Romo, however, could never get the Cowboys over the top, going just 2-4 in the playoffs.

The Cowboys signed Romo to a free-agent deal after he went undrafted in 2003. It wasn’t until 2006 that he took over as the full-time starter in Dallas, replacing Drew Bledsoe. Romo finished the season with a 6-4 record in 10 starts and earned the first of four trips to the Pro Bowl.

Tony Romo Cowboys Stats
Seasons 13
Games/Starts 156/127
Record 78-49
Comp% 65.3
Pass Yards 34,183
Pass TD 248
Interceptions 117
Rating 97.1

In 2007, Romo returned to the Pro Bowl after leading Dallas to a 13-3 record, but the top-seeded Cowboys were eliminated in the Divisional Round of the postseason, falling to the New York Giants. In the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Romo threw for a combined 9,087 yards and 59 touchdowns, but the Cowboys went 8-8 each season.

Romo earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection in 2014, going 12-3 and leading the NFL with a 69.9 completion percentage. He also threw for 34 touchdowns and finished third in the MVP voting. The Cowboys were eliminated by the Green Bay Packers in the postseason.

Romo is far and away the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown passes with 248.

4Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott has put up big numbers and is still going strong

Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys QBKevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

While currently No. 4, the same number on his jersey, there’s room for Dak Prescott to climb on this list. The 2024 season marks Prescott’s ninth season with America’s Team and ninth year as the regular starter as he replaced an injured Romo in 2016.

Like Romo, Prescott is putting up numbers but isn’t getting the Cowboys deep into the postseason. Prescott has a 73-41 career record during the regular season but has gone just 2-5 in the postseason.

Dak Prescott Cowboys Stats
Seasons 8
Games/Starts 114/114
Record 73-41
Comp% 67.0
Pass Yards 29,459
Pass TD 202
Interceptions 74
Rating 99.0

Prescott is a three-time Pro Bowler, earning his first nod as a rookie when he went 13-3 and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. Prescott started all 16 games in each of his first four NFL seasons, going 40-24 during that stretch.

In Week 5 of the 2020 season, Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the New York Giants. But he bounced back nicely in 2021, going 11-5 and throwing for 4,449 yards with 37 touchdown passes. He finished second in the Comeback Player of the Year voting.

Prescott is still going strong, and he’s already third on the team’s all-time passing list with 29,459 yards and second in touchdown passes with 202.

5Danny White

Danny White proved he could do a lot more than punt the football

Danny White Dallas Cowboys QBHerb Weitman-USA TODAY Sports

Danny White began his Cowboys career playing primarily as the team’s punter while backing up Staubach at quarterback. In 1980, with Staubach retired, things changed, and he became Dallas’ full-time starting quarterback.

In that 1980 season, White went 12-4, threw for 3,287 yards, and tossed 28 touchdown passes. He followed that season by going 11-4 and racked up 3,098 passing yards and 22 touchdown passes.

White finally gained some respect in the strike-shortened 1982 season, when he went 6-3 and earned the lone Pro Bowl selection of his career. He also earned Second-Team All-Pro honors and finished fifth in the MVP voting. From 1980 to 1982, the Cowboys reached the NFC title game every season but lost all three times.

Danny White Cowboys Stats
Seasons 13
Games/Starts 166/92
Record 62-30
Comp% 59.7
Pass Yards 21,959
Pass TD 155
Interceptions 132
Rating 81.7

White showed how much he meant to the Cowboys when he was off the field. In 1986, the Dallas offense was cruising with White under center. The Cowboys were 6-2 and boasted the NFL’s top-ranked offense. When White went down with a wrist injury suffered against the New York Giants and missed the remainder of the season, the Cowboys sputtered, finishing 7-9.

White spent all 13 of his NFL seasons with the Cowboys and posted a career record of 62-30 as the team’s starting quarterback. White is fourth on the franchise’s all-time list for touchdown passes thrown with 155 and ranks fifth on the team’s all-time passing leader list with 21,959 yards.