I gave up on Madden a few years ago because the game never really got better. There were always a ton of problems and glitches in the Franchise Mode which was the way I actually wanted to play the game and it always ended in frustration. Every year, I actually check reviews to see if it got better and find out that we got some superficial changes and sometimes things got worse.
I was a fan of the 2k series which is a popular stance for empire hating fans to sling at EA, and yes I am still a little bitter that any competition was squashed with the Exclusive licenses granted to EA for a decade at the time by the NFL and the NFLPA. Having to wait so long before an NFL game was even possible made it unlikely that a competitor would spend the time building up the infrastructure and design to launch a game once that exclusivity ended. And it seems the deals are continually extended so another option has yet to present itself.
Then the rumblings of Joe Montana football began, it was said to feature a large collection of retired football heroes along with current rosters and be a graphical improvement over Madden in time for the 2016 season. Word has since leaked that if made it could not feature NFL teams and could not touch existing players, and now the game might only exist as a mobile game. Obviously, the 2016 season is well underway and no game is imminent so the 2016 version is dead, but I find myself wondering "Would I play a football game if it wasn't based on the current NFL and its teams?".
The plays could be the same, the format, playoffs, championship, draft, injuries, etc could all be the same, yet without our favorite teams and players is it even desirable? We can think back to games like Blitz or Mutant League Football where we could fall in love with the game itself (or at least freakish versions of it) without the current players and teams, so I think it is possible. But I also think that without some players we love, even if it was just retired classics like Montana it will be hard to sell enough copies to be a top tier game in position to compete with Madden. And the idea of using classic players was done before with All Pro NFL 2k8 which had 240 classic players like John Elway and Barry Sanders and didn't make much of a dent in Madden's sales. That game was decent and perhaps better than Madden while in-game but the lack of other modes like Franchise mode made it weak competition. So while I would love to play a great NFL based game I think we are stuck with busted Madden games and cheap knockoffs for the foreseeable future. Unless a really big company comes in and snags the license from EA and makes a strong game, or the developers at EA actually make something markedly better than what we have now. Until then you can enjoy Breaking Madden and of course the eternally powerful Tecmo Bowl. The wily programmers got all 32 teams now and even can feature a 4-3 defense.