49ers

What NFL player has played on the most teams?

49ers
Josh Johnson is one of the most well-traveled NFL players in history, spending time on 14 different teams over 12 seasons.
USA Today

Adrian Peterson was once the most feared running back in the National Football League. Now he’s joining the fifth team of his professional career. 

The future Hall of Fame running back reportedly joined the Seattle Seahawks on the practice squad as the team continues to deal with multiple injuries in the backfield. The 36-year old appeared in three games for the Tennessee Titans earlier this season before being released on Nov. 23. 

After spending the first 10 seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, he carved out a nice career as a journeyman running back across the league. He’s had stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Washington Football Team and Detroit Lions over the past four years. But Peterson isn’t the only player to offer his services to multiple NFL teams.

Players like Josh McCown, Josh Johnson, and Ryan Fitzpatrick have all found success with a change of scenery over the course of their careers.

Here are some of the most notable NFL journeymen in recent history:

Josh Johnson

Played for: Buccaneers, 49ers, Browns, Bengals (twice), 49ers, Jets (twice), Colts, Bills, Ravens, Giants, Texans, Raiders, Washington, Lions

 

Josh Johnson has had the strange journey of carving out an NFL career by primarily serving as a third-string quarterback. He’s only had eight career starts since he was drafted in 2009 but has spent time with 14 different NFL clubs over 12 seasons. He’s also played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL and the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL. 

Johnson has served as the New York Jets emergency quarterback for the 2021 season and was activated from the practice squad multiple times. Johnson was called into action in a Week 9 game against the Indianapolis Colts after backup QB Mike White suffered an injury.

Johnson went on to complete 27 of his 41 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns in relief. It was the first time he threw over 300 yards and three touchdowns in his entire career. No one quite knows how long Johnson will hang around the league as a backup but one thing he’s always been is reliable.  

Josh McCown

Played for: Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers, 49ers, Bears, Buccaneers, Browns, Jets, Eagles

McCown is the quintessential journeyman quarterback. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Since then he’s been a backup or starter for 11 different teams across the league. In 2010, he left the NFL to join the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League. He returned in 2011 to serve as Jay Cutler's backup on the Chicago Bears.

He had stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets from 2014-2018 and even retired after the 2018 season to join ESPN as an NFL analyst. McCown’s retirement wasn’t long-lived as he was called back into action in 2019 when the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to the practice squad. 

McCown ended up playing in three games for the Eagles including the NFC Wild Card game against the Seahawks in 2020. He remained on the Eagles’ practice squad after the season until the Houston Texans signed him to their active roster in March 2021.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Played for: Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Bucs, Dolphins, Washington

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick has made quite the living as the perfect bridge quarterback for teams not ready to transition to developing a rookie just yet. Fitzpatrick has been a member of nine different teams over the course of his 17-year career. 

He was selected in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams and wasn’t highly touted coming out of school at Harvard. 

It took him a while to find his footing in the NFL but once he did, he stuck around by mentoring younger quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick spent the last two seasons in that role for the Miami Dolphins who drafted Tua Tavogolia last year. 

Vinny Testaverde

Played for: Bucs, Browns, Ravens, Jets (twice), Cowboys, Patriots, Panthers

Vinny Testaverde played for seven different teams during his incredible 21-year run in the NFL. He started for every team he played for except the New England Patriots in 2006. 

Testaverde began his career as the first overall pick in the 1987 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and largely struggled for the first six seasons of his career. 

He then went on to replace Bernie Kosar in Cleveland, scored the first touchdown in Baltimore Ravens history and shattered multiple passing records in his historic career. He retired with 46,233 passing yards and 275 touchdowns.

Perhaps Testaverde’s best run came as the starting quarterback for the New York Jets. Testaverde led the Jets to three playoff berths and made two Pro Bowls. 

Nick Foles

Played for: Eagles (twice), Rams, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bears

Nick Foles is probably one of the most unlikely Super Bowl MVPs of all time. He was drafted in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 and started six games in his rookie season. Foles was the starter for the Eagles in 2013 throwing for 2891 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Foles went on to start eight more games for Philadelphia in 2014 before leaving for the St. Louis Rams in 2015. After one-year stints with the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, Foles returned to the Eagles in 2017 to serve as Carson Wentz’s backup. 

 

Towards the end of that season, Wentz was in the midst of an MVP campaign when he tore his ACL against the Rams. Foles was thrust into action and led the Eagles to a Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots in 2018. 

Foles remained the backup to Wentz for the next season and was named starter again as Wentz dealt with a back injury. Foles helped the Eagles defeat the Chicago Bears in the NFC wild card game in 2019 before falling to the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round.

Foles then left the Eagles and signed a four-year 88 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He ended up only starting four games in Jacksonville and was traded to the Bears in the offseason. Foles started seven games for Chicago in 2020 throwing for 1,852 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Foles is currently the third-string quarterback for the Bears this season behind Andy Dalton.

Brandon Marshall

Played for: Broncos, Dolphins, Bears, Jets, Giants, Seahawks

Brandon Marshall is one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history, finding plenty of success with multiple teams in his 12-year career. He became the first receiver in NFL history to have over 1,000 receiving yards with four different teams. 

Marshall was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. By his second season, he was one of the best receivers in the game tallying 102 receptions for 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns. 

However, off-the-field issues followed him throughout his time on the Broncos. Marshall made the Pro Bowl each of his last two seasons in Denver in 2008 and 2009. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins the next season and eclipsed 1,000 yards for two consecutive years in 2010 and 2011. 

When a new coaching staff arrived in 2012, the Dolphins decided to move on from the receiver, trading him to the Bears for two third-round picks. Marshall caught 23 TD passes and tallied over 2,800 yards in his first two seasons with the Bears. In 2014, his production dipped due to multiple injuries and he was traded to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick in 2015.

 

Marshall’s first year with the Jets was one of the greatest in the team’s history. He caught 14 touchdown passes, tying the franchise record, and was one win away from reaching the first playoff game of his career. The Jets lost a Week 17 game to the Buffalo Bills which all but ended his window of opportunity.

He struggled in 2016 while dealing with injuries and poor quarterback play. He spent the last two years of his career with the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks before retiring from the NFL after the 2018 season.