All-Time NFL Receiving Yardage Leaders
Jerry Rice leads all NFL players in yards from scrimmage with 23,540 yards, but most of those yards came from catching passes. So it should be no surprise that Rice leads all NFL receivers in history in total receiving yardage. Some of the names after Rice won't surprise you, but some probably will. Here is the top 10 in receiving yards in NFL history:
If there was ever a better receiver in the NFL, it was in a league for invisible players, because there was simply none better at his position in NFL history than Jerry Rice. In a career that spanned from 1985 to 2004 with the 49ers, Raiders, and Seahawks, Rice caught 1549 passes for 22,895 yards and an astounding 197 touchdowns. He added another 10 rushing TDs, and Rice's best season was 1995 when he caught 122 passes for 1848 yards and 15 TDs. Rice also had a 14.8 yards-per-catch average for his career.
Tim Brown played for the Raiders for most of his career, from 1988 to 2003 and then played his final season with Tampa Bay in 2004. Brown is second to Jerry Rice in NFL history with 14,934 receiving yards, and when you see that gap from Rice to Brown, it's even more remarkable what Rice accomplished. Still, Brown was a great receiver too who played for a long time by NFL standards, catching 1094 passes with 100 TDs. Brown's best season was 1997 when he caught 104 passes for 1408 yards (both career highs) and 5 TDs.
James Lofton was a speedy receiver who played from 1978 to 1993 for the Packers, Raiders, Bills, Eagles and Rams. In all, Lofton caught 764 passes for 14,004 yards and 75 TDs, with an 18.3 yards-per-catch average. His best season was in 1984 with Green Bay, when Lofton caught 62 passes for 1361 yards and 7 TDs, with a 22.0 yards-per-catch average.
If he plays long enough, Marvin Harrison is someone that may challenge some of Jerry Rice's lofty records. Since joining the NFL with the Colts (who he still plays for as of 2007) in 1996, Harrison has racked up 13,944 receiving yards. He has caught 1042 passes, 123 of them for touchdowns. In 2002, Harrison broke the NFL record for receptions in a season with 143, and it was his best season overall as he had 1722 yards and 11 TDs. Harrison is also shooting for his ninth straight season with over 1000 yards receiving.
Known for being a prolific touchdown machine, Cris Carter did catch 130 TDs in a career that spanned from 1987 to 2002 with the Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins. But he also ranks fifth all-time in the NFL with 13,899 receiving yards on 1101 catches. Carter had great hands, and his best season was 1995 when he caught 122 passes (for the second straight season) for a career high in yardage (1371) and touchdowns (17).
Henry Ellard played for the Rams, Redskins and Patriots in a career that spanned from 1983 to 1998. In all, Ellard caught 814 passes for 13,777 yards and 65 touchdowns. The yardage ranks him sixth in NFL history, and Ellard's best season was 1988 with the Rams when he caught 86 passes for 1414 yards and 10 TDs.
Isaac Bruce has been with the Rams since 1994 and is still beating defenders and catching passes at almost 35 years of age in 2007. Bruce ranks seventh among NFL receivers in history with 13,701 yards (second in active players to Marvin Harrison), and his best season was 1995 when he caught 119 passes for 1781 yards and 13 touchdowns. Bruce also has averaged 15.1 yards per catch during his career.
Andre Reed played in the NFL from 1985 to 2000 with the Bills and Redskins and finished with 951 catches for 13,198 yards and 87 receiving TDs. Reed was part of the great Bills teams of the nineties that went to four straight Super Bowls. His best season was 1989 with Buffalo, when he caught 88 passes for 1312 yards (career high) and 9 TDs.
Steve Largent played his entire career with the Seahawks, from their inaugural season of 1976 until 1989. Over that time, Largent became the 9th leading receiver in yardage in NFL history, with 13,089 yards on 819 catches with 100 touchdowns. His best season was 1985 when he had a career high in catches (79) and receiving yards (1287) with 6 TD receptions.
Irving Fryar had a long career, playing from 1984 to 2000 with the Patriots, Dolphins, Eagles and Redskins. Fryar caught 851 passes for 12,785 yards and 84 TD receptions. Even after catching passes from Dan Marino in Miami for a few years, Fryar's best season was 1997 with Philadelphia, when he caught 86 passes for 1316 yards (both career highs) and 6 touchdowns.