NFL Receiving Yardage Leaders By Year—1980s
While Jerry Rice began a great career in the ‘80's that included stints leading the NFL in receiving yardage six times (twice in the decade), there were a few other guys who could catch the ball and run with it. Here is a complete list of those leading receivers in the ‘80's.
1989-Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers (1483)
In 1989, Rice caught 82 passes for a league-high 1483 yards. He added 17 touchdown catches, which also led the NFL.
1988-Henry Ellard, Los Angeles Rams (1414)
Though he played for 17 years in the NFL, Henry Ellard only led the league in yardage once, in 1988 while with the L.A. Rams. Ellard caught a career-high 86 passes that year for an NFL best 1414 yards with 10 touchdowns.
1987-JT Smith, St. Louis Cardinals (1117)
JT Smith was a journeyman receiver who had a breakout year in 1987 at the age of 32 while with the St. Louis Cardinals. Smith caught 91 passes that season for 1117 yards, which led the NFL, and 8 TDs.
1986-Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers (1570)
1986 was Jerry Rice's first full year as a starter, and he made it count by catching 86 passes for 1570 yards, an NFL high. Rice also hauled in a league-high 15 touchdowns and added 10 carries for 72 yards with one more TD as a rusher.
1985-Steve Largent, Seattle Seahawks (1287)
Steve Largent played his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks, from their inception in 1976 until retiring in 1988. He also led the NFL in receiving twice, once in 1979 and the second time in 1985, when he caught 179 passes for 1287 yards with 6 touchdowns. The yardage was also a career high for Largent.
1984-Roy Green, St. Louis Cardinals (1555)
Roy Green played most of his career with the Cardinals, both in St. Louis and later in Phoenix. When they were still in St. Louis in 1984, Green led the NFL with 1555 receiving yards on 78 catches, with 12 TDs.
1983-Mike Quick, Philadelphia Eagles (1409)
Mike Quick played his entire career with the Eagles, and in his first full season of 1983 led the NFL in receiving with 1409 yards on 69 catches. Quick also had 13 TDs, a career high.
1982-Wes Chandler, San Diego Chargers (1032)
Though only playing in 8 games during the strike-shortened 1982 season, Chargers' receiver Wes Chandler led the NFL in receiving yards. Chandler caught 49 passes for 1032 yards with 9 TDs for an astounding 129.0 yards-per-game average.
1981-Alfred Jenkins, Atlanta Falcons (1358)
Alfred Jenkins was a good receiver who had a great season in 1981 with the Falcons. That year, Jenkins caught 70 passes for 1358 yards, which led the NFL, and he also led the league with 13 touchdown catches.
1980-John Jefferson, San Diego Chargers (1340)
John Jefferson was another prime target for QB Dan Fouts in San Diego, and in 1980 Jefferson led the NFL with 1340 receiving yards on 82 catches. He also led the league by hauling in 13 TDs.
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