The game of football continues to trend away from the middle of the field toward the sidelines--where elite athletes can gain bigger chunks of yardage through the air--due in large part to the names on this countdown. Superstar receivers put on a helluva show, but not every superstar receiver is also a franchise receiver. The difference is that the franchise guys tend to win more championships. Retired superstars Terrell Owens and Randy Moss each played for five different teams. Neither one made this list, or has a Super Bowl ring.
Championships are won with cornerstones, including the pass-catchers who helped to establish and enhance the art of making big plays. Some franchise receivers fell short of posing like a boss with that Lombardi Trophy, but that doesn't mean their loyalty and production should be overlooked. From least-to-most yardage gained for a franchise, let's chronicle the feats of 32 wide receivers you'd want as a homer pick on your fantasy football team. In a landscape of GOAT's, it should be noted that the alpha GOAT still reigns supreme for the legacy he built in the Bay Area.
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32 Mark Carrier, Buccaneers
Mark Carrier's prime years were spent in the old NFC North--where he caught passes for Tampa Bay from 1987-1992, even though Florida is a southern state--and it may come as a surprise to know he's still the Buc's most prolific wideout with 5,018 receiving yards and 321 catches, 27 for touchdowns. Compared to divisional counterparts like Cris Carter (who made the list) as well as Herman Moore and Sterling Sharpe (who didn't), Carrier was more steady than flashy. He also played on dismal teams with lousy quarterbacks in laughable orange garb, which made him easier to forget.
His Pro Bowl season in 1989 was no laughing matter, though. He amassed 1,422 yards on 86 receptions and found paydirt nine times. That was, however, his lone 1,000-yard campaign in six seasons with Bruce Buccaneer stuck to his helmet. He played the second half of his career for the Browns and then the newly founded Panthers--from '93-'94 and '95-'98, respectively. In Carolina, he notched his second 1,000-yard season (1,002, but still) and played in an NFC Championship game. As for Carrier's production in Tampa, count on Mike Evans to shatter his records in the coming years.
31 Johnny Morris, Bears
Johnny Morris is the all-time reigning receiver of a franchise better known for its running backs and defenders. (Even returner specialists like Gale Sayers and Devin Hester have asserted a greater legacy than Bears receivers.) Morris reeled in passes from 1958-1967 for the Bears, his lone NFL team. Loyalty and production shouldn't go overlooked--as noted before--and so the 81-year-old Morris deserves free deep dish pizzas everywhere in Chicago, even though it's baffling to see his mark of 5,059 yards go unsurpassed in five decades.
His '64 season was spellbinding. In 14 games, he caught 93 balls for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. A stat line like that could motivate Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery, who's likely to be the one to finally overtake Morris' record in 2017; Jeffery's only about 600 yards shy. Morris' reign at the top is as impressive as it is unlikely. Throughout the entire Super Bowl era, troves of Chicago wide receivers have ultimately paled in comparison to a flanker who went pro at a time when Eisenhower was president and TV had three channels to offer. Morris was great. His successors were not.
30 Derrick Mason, Ravens
Similar to Chicago, defense, not the passing game, has been the hallmark of football in Baltimore. Derrick Mason is a more contemporary name, and in 15 seasons, he racked up over 12,000 receiving yards, as well as 943 catches and a total of 69 scores. A target monster and first-down machine, Mason also ranks highly in the record books of the franchise that drafted him, the Oilers/ Titans. He enjoyed two Pro Bowl campaigns in the Music City. In 2000, when he thrived as both a returner and a wideout, he set the record for all-purpose yards in a season with 2,690. (Since broken by Darren Sproles.) Mason moved to Baltimore in 2005 as an unrestricted free agent.
Until 2010, Mason was the most dangerous WR in the Ravens arsenal. Playoff appearances were the norm, but Super Bowl berths weren't. It wasn't Mason's fault. He accrued 5,777 receiving yards in six seasons as a beacon of consistency. From 2007-2009, check out his receiving yardage totals: 1,087/ 1,037/ 1,028. He eclipsed that all-important millennium mark eight times in his career. Mason wasn't as explosive as contemporaries like Owens and Moss (few were), but he succeeded where they didn't by becoming the all-time leading receiver of a franchise.
29 Ernest Givins, Oilers/ Titans
Years before pro sports came to Tennessee, the passing game in the NFL took a huge leap forward when the Oilers pioneered the run and shoot offense. With Warren Moon as field general, the high-octane Oilers revolutionized the aerial attack. Unheard of at the time, the team constantly lined up four wide receivers. Moon had several weapons at this disposal. Givins was the most prolific with 7,935 yards secured through the air for the franchise.
The inventor of the Electric Glide in the end zone, Ernest Givins found plenty of reasons to dance, to the tune of 51 total touchdowns. He was less inclined to boogie at the conclusion of The Comeback, in which the Oilers squandered a 35-3 lead over the Bills in the AFC Championship, but if it's any consolation, he played in a top-ten classic game and those Oilers were among the best (and most fun to watch) teams to have come up short of the Super Bowl. Givins played his final season in Jacksonville. An 8-bit version of the slender speed demon can still be seen torching corners in Tecmo Super Bowl.
28 Ozzie Newsome, Browns
The first tight end to crack the list, Ozzie Newsome thrived as a big target downfield for some great Cleveland teams that ended up breaking the hearts of fans. The three-time Pro Bowler's career spanned from 1978-1990, and in that time, he didn't miss a game (198 straight). That means he was there for The Drive and The Fumble losses to Denver, sadly, but Newsome found redemption as the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, who won Super Bowls XXXV and XLVII under his guidance.
The relationship between Cleveland and Baltimore might be strained since Browns owner Art Modell got the franchise "deactivated" in 1996. In a notorious move, Modell established the Ravens and left the coast of Lake Erie dormant of football for three years. But that's no reason to blame Ozzie. His 662 catches and 7,980 receiving yards remain Browns records, and he ranks fourth in TDs with 47. He's been a proud Hall of Fame rep since '99, the year the Browns were revived, and he displayed untarnished loyalty by never suiting up for another NFL team.
27 Mark Duper, Dolphins
Fans of a certain age might have a hunch that it's between two Marks--Duper and Clayton--for top bragging rights among Dolphins wideouts. Both were valued targets of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino throughout the '80s and part of the '90s. Combined, the tandem earned seven trips to Hawaii and accounted for nine 1,000-yard seasons. While Clayton cashed in more scores (81-59) and racked up more receptions (550-511) for the 'Phins, Duper owns the slight edge in yardage with 8,869--just 26 more than his fellow Mark.
Super Duper was the superior deep threat who gained bigger chunks of turf per catch. He accrued 1,306 yards on a career-best 71 catches in 1984--the year Miami's explosive offensive propelled them to a Super Bowl loss to San Fransisco. Factor in his 8 scores and 18.4 yards per catch that season and it's easy to see how Duper got his nickname. Due to dents in the armor on defense and in the running game, Marino and the Marks Brothers would never return to the biggest stage, which is a shame. They comprised a dynamic trio for over a decade in Miami.
26 Harold Carmichael, Eagles
In another case of an old-timer beating the odds to retain his record, Carmichael accumulated 8,978 receiving yards as an Eagle. His career in Philly lasted from 1971-1983. He clung on for one more year as a Cowboy, which was probably ill-advised: Carmichael managed just one catch for seven yards as a member of a long-time divisional foe. It's hard for an athlete to submit to Father Time.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Carmichael's longevity led to 589 receptions, 79 of them for scores. With fellow Philly legend Ron Jaworski zipping him the pigskin, Carmichael was a super-lanky target who stood at 6'8", making him the tallest WR in league history. He and Jaworski played in Super Bowl XV against the Raiders, but lost. Named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the '70s, Carmichael's fine work on behalf of the City of Brotherly Love extended past his retirement. He was a director of player and community relations for the team and still serves a role as an ambassador.
25 Amani Toomer, Giants
In the 92 years of Giants football, no receiver has outgained Amani Toomer, who suited up for no other team. Totaling 9,497 yards, he surpassed a grand each season from '99-'03. Toward the end of his career, his consistency was rewarded when the Giants shocked the world to upset the seemingly unstoppable Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Toomer was the Giants' leading receiver, catching 6 balls for 84 yards when it mattered most.
With spry legs and peak agility as a rookie and a second-year player, Toomer made an impact as a return specialist early in his career, taking three punts back to the house. Surprisingly, Toomer was never selected for a Pro Bowl and he wasn't a premier red zone threat (his career-best was 8 receiving TDs). His gift was for moving the chains more so than putting points on the board. Odell Beckham Jr. might someday overtake the all-time leader, but the high-maintenance virtuoso is still less than halfway to reaching Toomer's magic number of 9,497.
24 Marques Colston, Saints
No one else has caught more passes from Saints icon Drew Brees than Colston. Being targeted by a future Hall of Famer was a big help to Colston, whose 711 receptions for 9,759 yards and 72 TDs are all franchise records. Maybe his 4o-yard dash time left something to be desired, but he flourished in spite of his lack of speed. In 10 seasons, he exceeded the millennium mark six times.
To achieve the ultimate team goal, Colston came to play in the Saint's Super Bowl win over the Colts, snagging 7 balls for 83 yards. It was a typical postseason performance from Colston, who racked up 788 yards in 10 playoff games. He was never a Pro Bowler, which is stunning when you look at his stat line in 2007: 98/ 1,202/ 11. (Snubbed!) His production finally fell off in 2015, when he started to lose playing time to rising talents like Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. He was released and remains in the limbo stage that precedes retirement. Regardless, when it comes to Saints receivers, Colston is the GOAT.
23 Donald Driver, Packers
Nicknamed Double-D, Donald Driver was the embodiment of a player who was more of a franchise receiver than the superstar kind. He may not be as widely recognized as the superstars on the covers of video games, but in the state of Wisconsin, where he started and finished his illustrious career, he's a beloved legend. With 10,137 receiving yards, Driver is the first entry on the countdown to crack the ten-grand mark. Double-D also amassed 743 catches and 61 TDs.
With Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers as his quarterbacks, Driver made the most of his good fortune in the pros. During his prime years, he topped a thousand yards in seven out of eight seasons. The Packers were founded almost a century ago, and in that span, they've fielded great pass-catchers like Don Hutson, James Lofton, and Sterling Sharpe. These standouts add perspective to Driver's elite status. He outmatched some tough competition, but it keeps coming. Driver's former teammate and fellow Super Bowl XLV Champ Jordy Nelson recently surpassed 7,000 yards at the age of 31. Stay tuned.
22 Stanley Morgan, Patriots
Nothing says longevity quite like playing for a pro sports team in three different decades. Granted, perhaps Stanley "Steamer" Morgan should have hung up his cleats in 1989 to ensure that he suited up exclusively for the Pats, but as we know, competitors don't easily tap out to Father Time. As a Colt, Morgan tacked on a meager 364 yards to his career total. Setting aside that last season of retirement-in-denial, Morgan was a big-play threat and four-time Pro Bowler whose 10,352 receiving yards for the Pats is unrivaled.
His blazing speed propelled him past d-backs and enabled him to average more than 20 yards per catch in his each of his first six seasons. In his younger years, Morgan was also dangerous in the return game. At the collegiate level, he still holds the record for all-purpose yards at the University of Tennessee with 4,642. The line he posted for the Pats in 1986 was enough to impress Randy Moss: He caught 84 passes, 10 for scores, and racked up 1,491 yards. The franchise may be hoping Rob Gronkowski can stay healthy enough to challenge Morgan's record, but Gronk still has a long way to go. (Over 4,000 yards.)
21 Chad Johnson, Bengals
Should there ever be a Mount Rushmore of receivers from the previous decade carved into the side of a mountain (and I'd offer my tax dollars to fund that project), Chad Johnson's mug would be among the four. He was as brazen, cocky, and outlandish as he was acrobatic, nimble, and explosive. He talked metric tons of garbage and matched his swagger with on-field production. With the mind of a rapper adopting a persona, Chad Johnson changed his name to Ochocinco to boast his jersey number--even though that's how one says "eight-five," not "eighty-five," in Spanish. And it was still awesome.
With 10,783 receiving yards, he has set the bar high for the likes of A.J. Green. He gripped 751 balls through the air, 66 for touchdowns. Which brings us to his end zone celebrations: Riverdancing, pumping a football to mimic CPR, donning a Hall of Fame jacket, commandeering a TV camera, using a pylon to putt a football, and proposing to a cheerleader. It was more fun than obnoxious--although some felt the opposite was true. A six-time Pro Bowler who never got close to the Super Bowl, we're left to wonder if he could have excelled even more had he toned down the antics. We can guess his reply: "Child, please."
20 Roddy White, Falcons
A four-time Pro Bowler, Roddy White holds the trifecta of receiving records for an Atlanta franchise that has been around since 1965. Aside from the yards at the core of this countdown (10,863), he's unparalleled in receptions (808) and TD grabs (63). During his prime, from 2007-2012, White averaged the following stat line: 94/1,296/8. Former teammate Julio Jones may break his records someday, but despite his next-level athleticism, Jones has yet to prove he can match White's standards of consistency.
Currently listed as a free agent, the next step for White will most likely be retirement. His yards per catch dropped steeply from 2012-2013, and the trend begat a red flag. White's days of shredding secondaries for 185 yards in a half are finished, but much like Marques Colston, he should probably embrace life after football and bask in the fact that he stayed loyal to one team and made millions. That's a better route than sporting a different jersey in order to look old and mediocre. Pro athletes know better than most that money can be a great thing. But there's more than one way to make it.
19 Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs
The second tight end on the list, Tony Gonzalez is the wisest choice in the debate of who's the best ever to line up between the o-line and the receivers. (The top three names all begin with "G": Gonzalez, Gronkowski, Gates.) As a Chief, Gonzalez ushered in higher standards at his position by posting 916 receptions for 10,940 yards and 76 touchdowns. But he wasn't finished. He played five additional seasons with the Falcons, where he added 409/ 4,187/ 35. Never mind tight ends--his career numbers are on par with the all-time best wide receivers.
A six-time All-Pro who made the trip to Honolulu a staggering, record-tying 14 times, Gonzalez was greedy for greatness. His NFL career spanned three different decades, but that wasn't enough for him; Gonzo had to earn Pro Bowl honors in three different decades. He wasn't satisfied being a premier pass-catcher for the ages; he had to be a premier football player for the ages. Statistically, he's the most prolific tight end in league history (15,127 yards, 111 touchdowns). Plus he only missed two games in 17 years. Gronk, by contrast, has durability issues, which gives him a slim chance of someday surpassing Gonzo. Debate over.
18 Antonio Gates, Chargers
Our first active player, and another tight end, Antonio Gates and Gonzalez were peers who met up at the Pro Bowl on several occasions. Gates made the voyage west to Hawaii eight times, every year from 2004-2011. Like Gonzalez, Gates is one of only 10 pass-catchers with 100-or-more TD receptions. Unlike Gonzo, he's spent his entire career committed to one team. His career totals don't quite match up to Gonzo's, but 11,192 yards, 897 catches, and 111 TDs are not too shabby--especially for a guy who went undrafted because in college he played basketball instead of football.
That last bit of the story is worth repeating: Gates never stepped onto the football field at Kent State. Athletically, though, he displayed a high ceiling on the basketball court that made some scouts wonder and get creative. San Diego signed him in '03. It didn't take long for him to thrive. Get a load of this vintage Gates stat line from 2005: 89/ 1,101/ 10. He was a beast and a matchup nightmare for over a decade, but now he's slowing down. At 36, Gates might not be an active player next season, which would start his five-year wait to becoming a first ballot Hall of Famer.
17 Rod Smith, Broncos
Another example of a receiver who was more focused on the franchise than stardom, Rod Smith's career peaked as a key component of Denver's back-to-back Super Bowl Champs in the late-'90s. Though Broncos icon John Elway retired after the second championship run, Smith was far from finished. With lesser quarterbacks, Brian Griese and Gus Frerotte, he actually stepped his game up in 2000 and 2001. In those seasons combined, he posted an eye-popping 213 catches for 2,945 yards and 19 scores.
In 12 pro seasons, all spent in Denver, Smith gained 11,389 receiving yards and snagged 849 balls, 68 for touchdowns. His consistency was remarkable. Between 1997 and 2005, he fell short of a 1,000-yard campaign only once, and he had a knack for striking up chemistry with a handful of different QBs. Smith also got selected to the Pro Bowl in 2005 with Jake Plummer launching him the rock. He played in three Pro Bowls. His two Super Bowl rings meant a lot more. Rod Smith was the prototype of a franchise (not superstar) receiver.
16 Calvin Johnson, Lions
Owner of perhaps the coolest nickname on the countdown, Megatron was a surefire 99 rating in Madden football games for the better part of his career. That's worth noting because Calvin Johnson was so supernatural that his highlights reminded fans of feats that could only be done in video games. For three straight years, he got All-Pro accolades, and his stat lines would be hard to reproduce on a Playstation. In 2012, for instance, he caught 122 balls for 1,964 yards.
All told, Megatron gained 11,619 yards in the passing game, along with 731 receptions and 83 touchdowns. His career spanned nine seasons, and after the 2015 season, he hung up the cleats at a relatively young age. His retirement was sadly similar to that of another Lions legend, Barry Sanders. Both decided to shut it down at the age of 30. Both flourished on the field in their final seasons. Neither can really be blamed for cashing out considering all the health risks involved in their sport. If it's any consolation, both players live on in video games. For supernatural talents, maybe that's only fitting.
15 Don Maynard, Jets
The oldest player on this list, Don Maynard was born in 1935. Along with QB Joe Namath, he was on the winning side of Super Bowl III, which took place in 1969--less than a decade after the Jets franchise was founded. It's astounding that his record of 11,732 receiving yards still stands. Maynard has earned the honor, though. Household name or not, he was a pioneer. In 1960, he was one half of a receiving duo that each surpassed 1,000 yards in a pro season. That had never been done before.
Maynard set records that have yet to be broken. Incredibly, he's the GOAT when it comes to yards per catch. His career mark of 18.7 has gone unmatched by anyone with a minimum of 600 receptions. The Hall of Famer finished with 627 grabs, 88 for touchdowns. He was a fantastic anomaly in 1960s football, which trended towards the ground game--and looking forward to the future, Maynard's yards per catch average might never be surpassed.
14 Michael Irvin, Cowboys
A Mount Rushmore of '90s receivers would have to include The Playmaker (plus Rice, Carter, and Brown). Though his career numbers rank the lowest among the four, Michael Irvin's three Super Bowl rings give him bragging rights over Carter and Brown. And while we're on the subject, Playmaker was a boastful talent. Off the field, he went through a hellraising phase and wore extravagant suits to his court dates. On the field, he celebrated first down catches like each one was worth a billion dollars. But he backed up his ego to the tune of 750 catches, 11,904 receiving yards, and 65 touchdowns.
Only Rice has more receptions and yards in a postseason career. His knack for rising to the top in big games strengthened his Hall of Fame legacy, and he kept that star on his helmet for the entirety of his 12-year career. Even if Dez Bryant can someday break Irvin's statistical marks, he'll find additional challenges in matching Playmaker's postseason mojo and bringing Lombardi Trophies to Dallas. As for his rivals in the '90s, it's fair to say that Rice was a better receiver than Irvin--but so what? It's fair to say that about everyone else, too.
13 Art Monk, Redskins
Like the previous entry, Art Monk earned a trio of Super Bowl rings--and he has the unique distinction of doing so with three different quarterbacks (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien). The number three was a thematic trend for Monk. He was chosen to represent the NFC in Hawaii thrice. He was the first Redskin to top 70 catches as well as the thousand-mark in three straight seasons. And along with Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, he formed The Posse--the first trio of WRs to each exceed 1,000-plus yards in a season.
Monk's name is everywhere in the Redskins' record books. The team has no current challengers to his franchise marks: 888/12,026/65. In the final two of his 16 seasons, the lanky legend stuck around to pad his stats with the Jets and Eagles--but obviously, he went into the Hall of Fame as a Redskin. He retired as the NFL's all-time leader in receptions (940), but it didn't take long for Rice to break, then shatter, and then obliterate that total. Still, Monk was one of the best receivers of the '80s, and his longevity remains a thing of virtue in any decade.
12 Hines Ward, Steelers
A two-time Super Bowl champ, Hines Ward was a ferocious blocker who caught exactly a thousand balls for 12,083 yards and 85 receiving TDs. It was no easy task for him to outdo the likes of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, just as it won't be a cinch for Antonio Brown to topple Ward. The man who had a cameo in The Dark Knight Rises produced from 1998-2011 for Pittsburgh, and in that span, his most impressive stat line came in 2002: 112/ 1,329/ 12.
His six 1,000-yard seasons might seem a bit light compared to other names on this list, but Ward's equalizer was his team-first competitive drive. His individual stats were not on par with the likes of Owens, Moss, or Ochocinco, but the case could be made that Ward's unselfishness helped him win the Championships the others never did. Selling out for a block to spring a running back for extra yards downfield has a greater impact on winning games than choreographing a sight gag in the end zone. After retiring, Ward triumphed on Dancing with the Stars. Who knew those blocking receivers could also bust a move?
11 Steve Smith, Panthers
The Panthers have only been around since 1995, so it's notable that their franchise-leading receiver has posted more than twice as many yards as the top receiver of the Bears--who were founded almost a century ago. Steve Smith excelled in Carolina from 2001-2013, and much to his chagrin, the team released the five-time Pro Bowler after he had racked up 836/12,197/67. Always in search of motivation, Smith got fired up, surpassed a grand for his new team, the Ravens, and made his former team achingly wonder if he would've made the difference in their Super Bowl loss to Denver.
Undersized, tenacious, and lightning-quick, Smith made big plays with a chip on his shoulder--and then dared the world to doubt him so that he could do it all over again. In his younger days, when his speed burned hotter, he returned two kickoffs and four punts for touchdowns. As a wideout, 2005 was probably his most amazing season. He snared 103 balls for 1,563 yards and 12 receiving scores. All three of those marks led the league. Smith announced his plans to retire in December of 2016. He's a future Hall of Famer who never backed down from a challenge.
10 Jimmy Smith, Jaguars
Along with the Panthers, the Jaguars got started in 1995, and both franchises are led in receiving by a Jimmy Smith. Jimmy began his career with the Cowboys--where he was on the roster for two Championships. Smith was a mere special teamer who never caught a pass in Dallas and struggled to stay healthy. His career was on life-support when he was picked up by the Jags. They didn't regret it. Smith beat the odds. In over a decade of excellence, he went on to post 862/12,287/67.
Nicknamed Lightning, Smith was driven to prove the value of perseverance. In his first two seasons, it seemed like he was hexed: He broke his fibula, then suffered a ruptured appendix, which gave him a post-surgery infection that almost killed him. In 1994, he was cut in late August by the Eagles. Credit Jags Head Coach Tom Coughlin for giving Smith a chance. He caught his first NFL pass in 1995. By 1996, he was a rising star. Smith was a Pro Bowler every year from '97-'01. Since retiring, he has struggled with addiction issues. Hopefully he can battle for his life with the same grit he showed battling to make a living in the NFL.
9 Cris Carter, Vikings
The first entry on the countdown to notch over a thousand catches for his franchise, Chris Carter composed half of perhaps the best receiving duo in league history with Randy Moss. Minnesota fans were hoping the two would make big plays in the Super Bowl and that Moss would stay put long enough to surpass his mentor in the record books, but it wasn't meant to be. Regardless, C.C. is beloved in the Gopher State. A superlative possession receiver who excelled in the red zone, Carter amassed 1,104/12, 383/110 in purple and gold.
His Hall of Fame career was bookended by stints in Philly and Miami, but Carter's heart belongs in Minnesota, where he earned Pro Bowl accolades every season from 1993-2000. Carter was a cornerstone who struck up chemistry with QBs that seemingly paraded through a revolving door: Rich Gannon, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpepper--it didn't matter. C.C. produced. Few receivers accomplished more for one franchise with so many changes at quarterback.
8 Steve Largent, Seahawks
Still the best receiver to make a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest, Steve Largent once held the record for touchdown catches with an even hundred. (Rice was the first to break it.) An overachiever who ran perfect routes to get open, the Seattle legend retired in 1989 as the NFL's all-time leader in receptions, yards, and TD receptions (819/13,089/100). Those records have all since been broken by J.R. and others, but Largent was one of the most productive and consistent receivers in the late '70s and '80s.
Despite not being fast or tall, Largent averaged big gains of 16 yards per catch. He was listed as an everyman-type 5'11", 192 lbs. Defensive backs used to make wisecracks about his lack of speed, but nobody ever questioned his work ethic, and Largent still found ways to burn corners and reel in catch after catch. During his prime, he exceeded a thousand receiving yards seven times in eight tries. For some perspective on the Hall of Famer's impact in Seattle: Doug Baldwin has been the team's #1 WR since 2011, and he'd still need about 9,000 more receiving yards to get past Largent.
7 Andre Reed, Bills
Surprisingly, Andre Reed topped a thousand yards in just four of his 16 pro seasons. Buffalo's No-Huddle attack clicked on all cylinders, but QB Jim Kelly had plenty of other targets to feed--from wideouts James Lofton and Don Beebe to Thurman Thomas out of the backfield. Andre Reed's calling card was his consistency. He was selected to the Pro Bowl every year from 1988-1994, and more often than not in that span, he was the top receiver on the best team in the AFC.
Elephant in the room: Somehow those excellent Bills teams kept falling short of prevailing in the Super Bowl. Reed can't be blamed. In 15 years of service in Buffalo, he gained 13,095 yards through the air, along with 941 catches and 86 TDs. He had an underwhelming finish to his career in Washington, where he tacked on just 10 receptions to his career totals. But make no mistake, Reed is a Bill for life. When he was finally recognized by the Hall of Fame in 2014, he joined teammates Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly, and Thurman Thomas to represent the greatest core of players in NFL history that never won a championship.
6 Andre Johnson, Texans
Another Andre, and here's some perspective: Andre Johnson would have loved to have played in a Super Bowl, let alone four as Reed did. Comparing stats, though, Johnson has the edge. With Houston, he topped a thousand catches (1,012) and racked up 13,597 receiving yards. His totaled 64 receiving TDs without ever having an elite quarterback throwing to him in Houston. In the twilight of his career, Johnson split wide for the Colts and the Titans in his final two seasons before calling it quits.
He enjoyed exceptional years as a Texan. In back-to-back campaigns, his production in 2008 and 2009 was unparalleled; he posted lines of 115/1,575/8 and 101/1,569/9. His Texans failed to make the postseason on both occasions. Like the Texans, Johnson didn't debut in the playoffs until the 2012 season, when he helped the franchise earn some hard-fought legitimacy with 112 catches for 1,598 yards. A rookie franchise in 2002, the Texans may have botched their first overall pick on QB David Carr, but in the next draft, they sure got it right by giving Johnson the opportunity to set records as a wide receiver. He didn't disappoint.
5 Isaac Bruce, Rams
As an essential part of the Rams' Greatest Show on Turf, Isaac Bruce burned cornerbacks on some of the most potent offenses the league had ever seen, or has seen since. Teammates Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt were Pro Bowlers, too, which meant St. Louis had an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions. It was almost impossible for opposing D's to stop all three, and Bruce and company feasted on the matchup nightmares they created. To become the Rams' all-time leading receiver, Bruce posted 942/14,109/84.
Like many of his peers on this list, he didn't succumb to retirement easily. Bruce played for the 49ers in '08 and '09 before shutting it down. It was a quiet ending to a dazzling career highlighted by the Rams' triumph in Super Bowl XXXIV, in which Bruce was on the receiving end of a Kurt Warner deep ball to score what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. His most unbelievable season occurred in 1995, when he snagged 119 balls for 1,781 yards and 13 scores. Nicknamed the Reverend for his faith and philanthropy, Bruce can't be honored in Canton soon enough.
4 Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
The second (and final) active player on the countdown, Larry Fitzgerald has been a dynamo in the league since 2004. For well over a decade, he's been beating defenses in a variety of ways: Being fearless over the middle, tiptoeing at the sideline, striding deep, catching quick screens and slants. With the 2016 regular season in the books, Fitz ranks third all-time in catches, and he's in the top ten in both receiving yards and touchdowns. He's done it all as a Cardinal with a line of 1,125/ 14,389/ 104. And he's not done yet.
His 2008 campaign was epic. In the regular season, Fitz secured 97 catches for a league-leading 1,431 yards and 12 scores. Then in four postseason games, including a loss to the Steelers in a thrilling Super Bowl XLIII, Fitz broke receiving records with 30 receptions, 8 for touchdowns, and 546 yards. In doing so, he surpassed all three of Jerry Rice's marks in the '88-'89 playoffs. Nicknamed Sticky Fingers, the only thing missing from Fitz' resume is a Super Bowl victory. The 10-time Pro Bowler will try to achieve that goal next season, when he'll be 34.
3 Marvin Harrison, Colts
Along with the aforementioned Chad Johnson and superstars Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, a monument of receivers from the 2000s would have to feature the bust of Marvin Harrison. Of the four, Harrison was the least bombastic; he produced every season without generating hype with end zone celebrations or contract disputes. Among the quartet, only Harrison possesses that coveted Super Bowl ring. A Colt for life, with Peyton Manning targeting him, Harrison hauled in 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns.
Set during the 2002 season, his record of 143 catches still stands. Harrison was otherworldly that year, racking up 1,722 receiving yards and 11 TDs. His line in 2006 wasn't quite as impressive--95/1,366/12--but the season culminated in the ultimate way with the Colts' Super Bowl victory over the Bears. The twilight of his career in Indy and his post-football life have been blighted by an ongoing murder investigation that's shady and grave enough to make Colts fans tug at their collars. Until the case is resolved, though, let's focus on the facts: Marvin Harrison was an exceptional wide receiver.
2 Tim Brown, Raiders
In 1987, as a standout for Notre Dame, Tim Brown became the first wide receiver to take home the Heisman Trophy. A superlative athlete, he was thrilled to join the Silver and Black as the 6th overall pick in 1988. That's when he began his journey to show just high his pro ceiling could be. His nine Pro Bowls spanned across three separate decades. He earned a spot on the All-Decade Team of the 1990s. He also excelled as a return man until he became too valuable as a wideout. All told, Brown meant business in a Raiders uniform, posting 1,070/14,734/99.
He did cling to his career as a member of the Buccaneers in '04, which allowed him to finish with exactly 100 TD receptions. During his extensive prime, Brown exceeded a thousand receiving yards in nine straight seasons. Late in his career, he teamed up with Jerry Rice to form a memorable tandem of future Hall of Fame receivers. Led by vets, the Raiders made it all the way to Super Bowl XXXVII, but alas, QB Rich Gannon was unusually sloppy against a dominant defense and they were defeated by the Bucs. Brown later retired, sans ring. If you were wondering about the legacy of his former teammate J.R., you won't have to wait long.
1 Jerry Rice, 49ers
The GOAT of GOATs, the Michael Jordan of wide receivers, what Jerry Rice achieved in San Francisco doesn't even tell the whole story, but we'll start there. He brought in 1,281 passes, put points on the board to the tune of 176 TD catches, and amassed 19,247 receiving yards with Joe Montana and Steve Young as his quarterbacks. In the Montana era, Rice earned three Super Bowl rings (and won MVP honors in S.B. XXIII). With Young, on perhaps the greatest football team of all-time, he became a Champion for the fourth time. He was acknowledged on the All-Decade Teams of the '80s as well as the '90s.
Then he played for the Raiders from 2001-2004 (and less memorably, for the Seahawks partway through his last season). In Oakland, Rice got the final of his 13 Pro Bowl accolades for his work during the 2002 campaign: 92/1,211/7. Not too bad for a 40-year-old wideout. Rice's career stat line is mind-boggling: 1,549/22,895/197. He added 10 scores as a runner (and recovered a fumble in the end zone) to become the sole member of the 200-touchdown club with 208. The next closest is Emmitt Smith with 175. While other legends have displayed a greed for greatness, Rice was different: He wanted the monopoly on greatness. He revolutionized his position and proved that a franchise receiver and a superstar receiver can be one and the same.
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