Ranking the top 5 backup quarterbacks in Washington Commanders franchise history

A look back at the best backup quarterbacks in Commanders franchise history.

Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Doug Williams - Former Commanders QB

After a standout career at Grambling State, Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft when he was selected with the No. 17 overall pick in 1978 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers drafted Williams on the recommendation of offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs and the results were immediate. Tampa Bay went to the playoffs three times in five seasons with the signal-caller, making it all the way to the NFC Championship game in 1979.

Williams was the only starting African-American quarterback in the NFL at that time. As such, he dealt with constant racism from the fans, players, and even his own coaching staff.

During his tenure with the Buccaneers, Williams was paid only $120,000 per year, by far the lowest salary for a starting quarterback in the NFL. For extra context, he made less than 12 backups.

At the conclusion of the 1982 season, Williams rightfully requested a raise, but owner Hugh Culverhouse refused to pay his franchise quarterback what he deserved. He sat out the 1983 season in protest and returned to football the following year, this time with the upstart USFL.

After the fledgling league was shut down in 1986, Williams returned to the NFL, joining the now-Washington Commanders and reuniting with Gibbs, who was now the team's head coach.

Williams served as the backup for starting quarterback Jay Schroeder before taking over as the starter at the end of the 1987 season as the team headed into the playoffs.

The former first-round pick sparked Washington on a magical playoff run to Super Bowl XXII in which they routed the Denver Broncos. Williams was sensational, becoming the first black quarterback to both play in and win a Super Bowl.

Against Denver in the championship game, Williams completed 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards with four touchdown passes, all of which he threw in the second quarter. He led Washington to a 42-10 rout of John Elway and the Broncos, earning Super Bowl MVP honors along the way.