Thanks to Pro Bowlers changing teams and the 2020 NFL Draft featuring perhaps the deepest wide receiver class in history, many teams shook up their receiving corps this offseason. Some have the potential to be historically good groups. On that note, here is the best set of receivers in every team's history.
The Cardinals paired one of the game's all-time greats with one of the most physically imposing wideouts in NFL history. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin played six seasons together and went 1,000-1,000 four times. The duo peaked in the late 2000s, with Warner and his aerial support powering the Cards to their only Super Bowl. Fitzgerald's 30-546-7 line in four 2008 playoff games is the single-postseason standard. Boldin joined Fitz in the Pro Bowl, and second-year man Steve Breaston made the '08 Cards just the fourth team with three wideouts surpassing 1,000 yards. They then combined for 2,828 yards in 2009.
Roddy White held the title of "Best receiver in Falcons history" until the mid-2010s, making four Pro Bowls from 2008-11. After GM Thomas Dimitroff's big-swing trade during 2011 draft, sending Julio Jones to Atlanta and a lot of non-factors to Cleveland, the Falcons possessed an elite tandem for years. White remained an upper-crust wideout until 2014, while Jones delivered two Pro Bowl seasons in that span. The duo combined for 2,549 yards in 2012, when the Falcons may have been a pass interference no-call from Super Bowl XLVII. Jones leapt onto first-ballot Hall of Fame track in the years that followed.
The 2012 playoffs swing this for the Anquan Boldin-Torrey Smith- Jacoby Jones troika. Boldin and Smith were together for two seasons -- 2011-12 -- and no 1,000-yard seasons occurred. But the physical marvel and young deep threat helped the Ravens to back-to-back AFC championship games. Baltimore came within a Lee Evans drop of consecutive Super Bowls. Boldin posted 104 yards and a TD in Super Bowl XLVII, a game the Ravens would not have been in had Jones -- 2012's All-Pro kick returner, who scored two Super Bowl TDs -- not stolen the Ravens a Round 2 win in Denver.
Andre Reed and mid-career sidekick James Lofton are Hall of Famers, while Don Beebe enjoyed a long career as a depth piece. Steve Tasker remains an all-time special teams great. The Bills' aerial crew from the late 1980s and early '90s helped make their sped-up K-Gun attack possible. Both Reed and Lofton cleared 1,000 yards in 1991, Buffalo's second Super Bowl season, while Beebe -- a six-year Bills contributor -- added six TDs. Lofton was productive through his age-36 season in 1992, while Reed's run-after-catch abilities and six straight Pro Bowls (1989-94) helped define this AFC dynasty.
Wideout depth issues plagued the Panthers during Jake Delhomme and Cam Newton's Charlotte stays, but for a time in the early 2000s, Smith and Muhsin Muhammad were one of the NFL's best duos. Muhammad's top statistical seasons came before Smith's 2001 arrival and in 2004, when Smith missed 15 games, but they worked together to help both Delhomme in 2003 and Rodney Peete in '02. Smith's Hall of Fame arc began with a 2003 breakout, when he eclipsed 1,110 yards, while he and Muhammad combined for four 100-yard performances in the playoffs to help Carolina to its first Super Bowl.
Johnny Morris and Mike Ditka would have earned this for their 1960s work, had the latter played wide receiver. Since Ditka was a tight end, the pick is Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery's 2012-14 run. Two physical boundary presences, Marshall and Jeffery are responsible for four of the top nine receiving seasons in Bears history and the top two on the list. Generating big numbers almost everywhere he went, Marshall posted the only 1,500-yard season in Bears history in 2012. He and Jeffery, a 2012 Round 2 pick, combined for 2,716 yards and 17 TDs catching balls from Jay Cutler and Josh McCown a year later.
By 2004, it was clear T.J. Houshmandzadeh was to be Chad Johnson's wingman instead of former No. 4 overall pick Peter Warrick. Johnson came to Cincinnati as a second-round pick in 2001, a year after Warrick's arrival, and quickly became Cincy's WR1. The man once known as Chad Ochocinco ripped off six straight 1,000-yard seasons (2002-07). The rangy Houshmandzadeh -- an '01 seventh-rounder -- complemented him throughout, posting 900-plus yards four times. Chris Henry's two productive seasons (15 TDs from 2005-06) midway through this run represents the best point for Bengals receivers.
If Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. time-traveled to the early 1950s, crowds would be Hill Valley High post-"Johnny B. Goode" stunned . But for their time, the Browns' trio of Mac Speedie, Dante Lavelli and Dub Jones helped Otto Graham lead the team to championship games. Paul Brown's ahead-of-its-time offense sent Lavelli and Speedie to Canton, while Jones -- a two-time Pro Bowler himself -- delivered a six-touchdown game in 1951. The trio played five seasons together (1948-52). Though the Browns were unrivaled in the pass-happier All-American Football Conference, Cleveland's wideouts keyed a title run in the franchise's 1950 NFL debut.
Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper only played four seasons together. They did a lot in that time. Irvin broke out in his fourth season (1991), soaring from 400-yard territory to 1,523 to help the team back to the playoffs. A '91 first-round pick, Harper joined Dallas' starting lineup a year later. Irvin zoomed to Pro Bowls from 1991-96; Harper's deep-strike capabilities further unleashed Dallas' offense. Harper did not reach 1,000 yards but topped 21 per catch twice, pacing the NFL with 24.9 in 1994. WR3 Kevin Williams was also an All-Pro return man in this span. Harper left for Tampa Bay in free agency in 1995.
The 2013 Broncos' major records will fall perhaps soon, but having five players with 10 TDs may last a while. Denver actually improved its receiving corps a year later by signing Emmanuel Sanders. Arriving in time for Demaryius Thomas' best season and Manning's final productive slate, Sanders topped Eric Decker's work with 1,404 yards. He and Thomas combined for a stunning 3,023 and went 1,000-1,000 in 2015 and '16, helping the Broncos to a Super Bowl title in the process. Though Wes Welker helped more in 2013, his 2014 presence helps elevate Manning's troops over John Elway's Rod Smith-Ed McCaffrey pair.
Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton became a dominant mid-1990s trio despite Scott Mitchell piloting the missions. An elite 50-50 ball presence, the 6-foot-4 Moore was a first-team All-Pro from 1995-97. In '95, his 123 catches set an NFL record. Moore and Perriman, en ex-Saint, combined for 3,174 yards that season; from 1995-96, they respectively ranked third and sixth in yardage. A 1994 first-rounder and eventual 12-year vet, Morton combined for 1,304 yards and 14 TDs from 1995-96. Post-Perriman, Morton and Moore each topped 1,000 yards in 1997.
The 2010 Super Bowl champion Packers' top four of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver and James Jones would have qualified here. But in 2011, Green Bay drafted Randall Cobb in Round 2. Unsurprisingly, Aaron Rodgers had his finest season that year -- a 15-1 Packers slate featuring a 45-6 Rodgers TD-INT ratio. Only Jennings went over 1,000 yards, but the Packers' depth here -- with Jermichael Finley also in the mix -- represents arguably the greatest one through five receiving corps ever. The quintet has combined for 15 1,000-yard seasons and 292 touchdowns.
For two years, the Texans careers of Andre Johnson and DeAndre Johnson overlapped. Due respect to the Hopkins-Will Fuller-Kenny Stills array of 2019, this is Houston's obvious group. Johnson, who probably lacks in appreciation because of his peak transpiring on mostly forgettable teams, was still dominant when Hopkins arrived in the 2013 first round. The intimidating presence posted his seventh and final 1,000-yard slate -- a 1,407-yard showing -- in Hopkins' rookie year. By 2014, the jump-ball dynamo took over as Houston's WR1. It is hard to assemble a more talented 1-2 receiver punch.
A case exists for the Colts' early-1960s group (Hall of Famers Raymond Berry and Lenny Moore, a part-time running back, and Pro Bowler Jimmy Orr). But Peyton Manning's longtime weapons are the choice. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne played together for eight seasons, peaking as a pair in the mid-2000s. Despite Harrison being north of 30 by 2002, the Hall of Famer's combination of hands and route-running brilliance kept him elite until Wayne took over as Indianapolis' WR1 in 2007. They delivered four 1,000-1,000 seasons, with WR3 Brandon Stokley -- in Manning's record-setting 49-TD 2004 season -- putting the Colts in the 3x1,000 club.
The 21st century has not gone especially well for the Jaguars, but they were once a fast-developing contender. Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell had a big say in why the Jags went to four straight playoffs from 1996-99. A former Cowboys second-round pick-turned-castoff, Smith recorded nine 1,000-yard seasons from 1992-2005. He and McCardell teamed up from 1996-2001, the boundary force and Mark Brunell's top mid-range weapon posting four 1,000-1,000 slates. Andre Rison's presence in 1996 elevates that group for talent, but the nomadic standout lasted just 10 games in Jacksonville.
Though the mid-1980s Chiefs' Carlos Carson-Stephone Paige-Henry Marshall triumvirate should not be dismissed, the pick is the current Chiefs' lethal contingent. Off-field baggage aside, Tyreek Hill provides a unparalleled ability to stretch defenses. 2019 addition Mecole Hardman is nearly as fast. The best for the Chiefs' receiving corps may be ahead. Both are All-Pro return men already. Sammy Watkins has disappointed in the regular season but delivered in the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes drives this bus, but Kansas City's aerial support has also accelerated the megastar's rise.
Behind a four-Hall of Famer offensive line, Stabler also had elite wideouts Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch. A gifted receiver from the 1960s and much of the '70s who enjoyed some additional pass-catching aid, Biletnikoff was in his 30s when the Raiders made Branch a starter in 1974. The best in the Raiders' long line of speed merchants, Branch made three All-Pro teams in his first three years as a starter. Both came through in the 1974 playoffs, and each was around for the Raiders' 16-1 1976 Super Bowl season. Branch's 1,111 yards (on an otherworldly 24.2 yards per catch) that year were a career high.
The Rams have deployed a few strong receiver tandems, but Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt were irreplaceable in lifting the Rams to their first Super Bowl title and triggering Kurt Warner's stunning ascent. That duo stayed productive after Warner's exit. Holt's 12,594 yards in the 2000s led the NFL, while Bruce's 15,208 for his career rank fifth all time. Az Hakim's presence during the "Greatest Show on Turf" years, which also featured Ricky Proehl deliver memorable playoff scores, makes the 1999-01 period the obvious peak of this receiving crew's run -- even though some of Holt's best years came later.
Although Charlie Joiner and Wes Chandler stayed together longer, the Chargers had a more dangerous setup prior to recasting Air Coryell. John Jefferson's contract dispute with the Bolts led to a 1981 trade to the Packers. The acrobatic superstar went 3-for-3 in Pro Bowls to start his career and landed on the All-Pro team twice -- most among Charger receivers since the merger. Jefferson led the league in receiving TDs twice from 1978-80. In 1980, he, Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow became the first trio to each eclipse 1,000 yards. An 18-year vet, Joiner stayed with the Bolts until 1987 and retired as the NFL's receiving yards leader.
Only three players have amassed over 6,000 yards in Dolphins history; all three exceeded 7,500 as Fins and played together from 1983-86. Nat Moore joined the Dolphins during their 1970s dynasty, as a Round 2 1974 pick, and was the team's top receiver between Paul Warfield's exit and the Marks Brothers' 1982 and '83 arrivals. The trio assisted in Dan Marino's record-obliterating 1984 -- probably still the best QB season ever. Mark Clayton and Mark Duper played together for 10 seasons; the 5-foot-9 duo combined for 17,512 yards and 140 TDs. Clayton's 18 TD catches in 1984 remain the third-most ever.
Overlooked by most: Jake Reed's four 1,000-yard seasons from 1994-97. Cris Carter's sidekick was one of the best WR2s of the '90s; he became an auxiliary piece of a more memorable corps in 1998. Upon drafting Randy Moss in the '98 first round, the Vikings went to a rarely seen level. Both Carter and Reed were in their 30s by this point, but Moss took over as defenses' top containment responsibility. His 17 TD receptions broke John Jefferson's rookie-year record by four. Moss, Carter and Reed guided Minnesota to a then-record 556 points in 1998. Carter and Moss earned All-Pro honors during the trio's two seasons together.
Tom Brady in 2006: 3,529 yards, 24 touchdown passes, not a Pro Bowler. Brady in 2007: 4,806 yards, 50 TDs, made the Pro Bowl (among other awards). The Patriots sent the Raiders a fourth-round pick for Moss, transforming their offense. His record 23 TD grabs have not been approached since. Bill Belichick also traded for Wes Welker, a future All-Pro who reshaped the slot receiver position, and signed Donte' Stallworth. Even WR4 Jabar Gaffney, a 2006 holdover, totaled 449 yards and five TDs. Stallworth was gone after the Pats' 18-1 season, but it is difficult to eclipse the work of the 2007 team's receivers.
This collection became Drew Brees' chain-movers on a Super Bowl champion outfit and other potent offenses. The Saints' passing attack funneled through seventh-round pick Marques Colston for years. Somehow, Colston never made a Pro Bowl. But the six-time 1,000-yard wideout is far and away the Saints' career receiving leader. His top wingmen -- deep threat Devery Henderson, mid-range target Lance Moore and former first-rounder Robert Meachem -- gave the Saints a balanced group that helped Brees to three passing titles in its five seasons together.
New York's 2011 wideout trio played vital roles in the team's fourth Super Bowl title. Victor Cruz went undrafted, dominated in a 2010 preseason game, disappeared, then resurfaced with 1,500 yards in 2011. The Giants' Plaxico Burress replacement, Hakeem Nicks posted 444 receiving yards in these playoffs. That remains second all time for a single postseason. Although Eli Manning's throw received more attention, Mario Manningham made a rather difficult catch to lift the Giants past the Patriots in their ultimate-game rematch. Manningham left in 2012, and injuries derailed Nicks early. But the group's 2011 masterpiece lives on.
Don Maynard was Joe Namath's top target, but the Jets employed a quality 1-B receiver for a stretch. An undrafted free agent that landed with the team for which his father scouted, George Sauer was the Jets' All-Pro receiver in 1967 and '68, beating out his Hall of Fame teammate. The 6-foot-2 target provided a strong complement to Maynard, whose long-range chops were perfect for Namath. Working together in the late '60s, Maynard and Sauer combined for eight Pro Bowls during their six years as teammates. Sauer, who retired at age 27, led the Jets with eight catches for 133 yards in Super Bowl III.
1960 MVP Norm Van Brocklin piloted the Eagles to a championship in his final season. He received help from a receiver consolidation that included Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald and the versatile Pete Retzlaff, who retired as the Eagles' receiving leader. Philly also had veteran end Bobby Walston and employed this trio from 1958-62. Retzlaff moved from fullback to wideout to tight end, working as an imposing receiver for most of his Eagles tenure. He complemented the diminutive McDonald well. All three made the Pro Bowl in 1960, when the Eagles became the only team to beat Vince Lombardi's Packers in a title game.
Look at the Steelers' 2010-11 receiving corps before automatically assuming their John Stallworth-Lynn Swann tandem is the open-and-shut pick. That said, these two are in the Hall of Fame and won four Super Bowls. Both selected in Pittsburgh's iconic 1974 draft, Swann (Round 1) and Stallworth (Round 4) entered a run-oriented NFL. But when the "Mel Blount Rule" -- named after a Swann-Stallworth practice opponent -- took effect in 1978, the receivers helped the Steelers transform into a lethal passing squad. The wideouts combined for 19 playoff TDs during their 10 seasons together, submitting storied Super Bowl moments.
Jerry Rice made 10 All-Pro first teams between 1986-96. No other post-merger receiver has more than five such honors. With him for most of that span: 1986 third-rounder John Taylor. Rice's credentials as the NFL's receiver GOAT are airtight. Taylor did not join him as a starter until after his game-winning Super Bowl XXIII catch but made the Pro Bowl as a receiver in 1989 and totaled two 1,000-yard seasons. Taylor had a game in Anaheim with two 90-yard touchdowns, and he scored six playoff TDs. Both were constants during Joe Montana and Steve Young's four combined MVP seasons from 1989-94.
Russell Wilson was not viewed as a top-tier quarterback until 2015. That year, when Seattle drafted Tyler Lockett in Round 3, Wilson smashed his career high with 34 TD passes. Slot maven Doug Baldwin caught 14 of those tosses that year, breaking into the ranks of the league's best receivers and making the Pro Bowl in 2016. Following his NFC championship walk-off , Jermaine Kearse provided support before leaving in 2017. Lockett did not fully emerge until Baldwin's 2018 injury led to retirement, but he was a key piece from the jump.
Chris Godwin broke out in 2019, but the Bucs deployed a better group a year earlier. Godwin, in 2018, showed signs of what was ahead, and the Bucs still employed DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. Mike Evans: also good. D-Jax did not click with Jameis Winston like he did with part-time starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he and Humphries (816 yards in 2018) made this one of the 2010s' deepest positions. Fitzpatrick's 9.6 yards per attempt that year ranks eighth all time. Winston, however, certainly worked well with Evans, whose 1,524 receiving yards in 2018 are by far his best.
Charley Hennigan and Bill Groman, of the early-1960s Oilers AFL title teams, have the edge on Warren Moon's Run and Shoot recipients for hardware. But for longevity and depth, the Oilers' Drew Hill-Ernest Givins-Haywood Jeffires-Curtis Duncan quartet is the pick. This foursome played together from 1987-92, made the playoffs every year and had each member make at least one Pro Bowl. Three Oiler receivers did so in 1992, which came after back-to-back Moon passing titles. After 21 Titan seasons in friendlier passing eras, Givins, Jeffires and Hill still reside atop the franchise's catches and yardage marks.
Washington won its second and third Super Bowls -- with non-Hall of Fame QBs -- with a deep reservoir of pass-catching talent. Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders combined for 10 1,000-yard seasons in their seven years together (1986-92). Showing rare across-the-board capabilities, each "Posse" member topped 1,000 yards at least twice during this run. The 5-foot-9 Clark resides as one of the more underrated wideouts, four times ranking in the top five in receiving yardage. Monk retired as the NFL's all-time receptions leader; Sanders caught a pass from the president after a dominant Super Bowl XXII outing.
Sam Robinson is a Kansas City, Mo.-based writer who mostly writes about the NFL. He has covered sports for nearly 10 years. Boxing, the Royals and Pandora stations featuring female rock protagonists are some of his go-tos. Occasionally interesting tweets @SRobinson25.