The best No. 2 wide receivers in NFL history


Just a few groups added veteran auxiliary extensive receivers this offseason, and it isn’t out of the query Julio Jones settles into this function with the Titans. This oft-overlooked job has a wealthy historical past. Excluding wideouts who spent an excessive amount of time as a group’s No. 1 possibility and people in true 1-1A conditions (resembling Isaac Bruce & Torry Holt), listed here are one of the best aerial sidekicks — the gamers who did essentially the most with No. 2 receiving roles — in NFL historical past.


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Amendola solely cleared 600 yards in three of his 5 Patriots seasons and by no means topped 700 — in a Rob Gronkowski- and Julian Edelman-centered go offense — however “Playoff Danny” elevates him into WR2 lore. An ex-Rams undrafted free agent, Amendola joined the Pats simply after Wes Welker signed with the Broncos in 2013. Edelman ended up changing into Welker’s WR1 successor, however Amendola delivered in January and February — be it on the receiving finish of Edelman’s double go to vex the Ravens, catching two Tremendous Bowl TDs or scoring twice to save the Pats in a comeback win over the Jaguars after a Gronk concussion — to justify his contract. 


Flipper Anderson

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Regardless of rule modifications designed to turbocharge passing assaults, nobody has taken down Anderson’s single-game receiving file. His 336-yard 1989 efficiency in New Orleans nonetheless stands, however Anderson was greater than a one-game star. Henry Ellard’s slender apprentice averaged a staggering 26 yards per catch in ’89 and gave the Rams a walk-off playoff win over the Giants. He topped 1,000 yards in 1990 as effectively. Though the Rams ’90s decline diminished Anderson’s Q score, he performed 10 seasons and completed with over 5,300 yards. Amongst certified receivers, Anderson’s 20.1 profession yards per catch ranks fourth all time.


Bob Boyd

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A former NCAA 100-yard sprint champion, Boyd made deep-ball cameos for 2 traditionally potent Rams offenses — Corridor of Famer-laden 1950 and ’51 groups that ventured to NFL title video games — earlier than coming into his personal as probably the greatest long-range receivers of the period. Boyd performed with All-Century receiver Elroy “Loopy Legs” Hirsch all through his seven-year Rams profession however completed within the high 13 in receiving yards 3 times. Boyd peaked in 1954 when he led the NFL with 1,212 yards (solely two gamers reached 900 that 12 months). One of many NFL’s first Black gamers, Boyd averaged 20.5 yards per catch for his profession.


Wayne Chrebet

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Undrafted out of Hofstra, Chrebet led the Jets in receiving as a rookie and made a profession out of offering chain-moving catches. Chrebet teamed with No. 1 general choose Keyshawn Johnson for 4 seasons. Through the Jets’ 1998 season, each eclipsed 1,000 yards. Chrebet later labored as a high-end WR2 alongside Santana Moss and Laveranues Coles, giving Vinny Testaverde and Chad Pennington a dependable goal. Chrebet scored twice in one of many Jets’ signature video games — their “Monday Night time Miracle” comeback to stun the Dolphins in 2000 — and the 11-year veteran nonetheless trails solely Don Maynard for catches in Jets historical past (580).


Bobby Joe Conrad

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The Cardinals of the Sixties had the receiver place locked down, although that didn’t translate to playoff berths. Conrad teamed with Sonny Randle, whose 64 landing catches led the NFL within the Sixties, and gave St. Louis a reliable second possibility. The Playing cards moved Conrad from working again to receiver in 1962. In his first two years on the job, he and Randle mixed for over 2,000 receiving yards — unusual within the NFL on this period — and helped St. Louis to a 9-5 file in an All-Professional ’63 slate. Conrad was additionally a 1964 Professional Bowler. He of seven school receptions, Conrad nonetheless ranks within the high eight in Playing cards catches, yards, and TD grabs.


Eric Decker

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At a number of factors, Decker proved he was not purely a Peyton Manning creation. Whereas his finest years got here in two seasons with Manning, the previous third-round choose was essential throughout Denver’s uncommon, Tim Tebow-driven 2011 season (612 yards, eight touchdowns) and complemented Brandon Marshall effectively with a 1,027-yard, 12-TD season with Ryan Fitzpatrick on the helm in New York. Decker, although, scored 24 TDs and almost topped 2,400 yards with Manning from 2012-13. A possession goal who might get deep, Decker led the 2012 Broncos with 13 TDs and added 10 extra whereas taking part in for the highest scoring offense in NFL historical past.


Quinn Early

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Though the Chargers traded as much as draft Early within the 1988 third spherical, he first turned NFL-relevant in New Orleans. The Saints used the 1991 free company add as Eric Martin’s sidekick for 3 seasons, two of these producing playoff berths, and gave the Iowa alum a much bigger function within the mid-’90s. Early’s lone 1,000-yard season got here in 1995, and it prompted the Payments to make a proposal. Early turned Andre Reed’s wingman for the following two seasons, serving as a bridge whereas Eric Moulds developed. (Early’s 122-yard day almost saved the Payments in Jim Kelly’s finale, a 1996 wild-card loss to the Jags.) He performed 12 NFL seasons. 


Ernest Givins

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The Oilers’ Run and Shoot setup was conducive to receiving stats, however Givins put up massive WR2 numbers earlier than Houston pivoted to that system. The 1986 Spherical 2 choose topped 1,000 yards as a rookie and completed within the high 20 in yardage in every of his first three seasons, teaming with Drew Hill to type an elite wideout pair. When the Oilers turned to a pass-crazed assault in 1990, Haywood Jeffires turned Moon’s high goal. His slithery teammate performed a key function in Houston making seven straight playoff berths. Givins has an Oilers/Titans-most eight postseason TDs and stays the franchise’s all-time receiving chief (7,835 yards).


Alvin Harper

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Harper’s stats don’t reveal the total story. The 1991 first-round choose represented a lacking piece (or lavish luxurious) for the Cowboys, who deployed Michael Irvin’s 6-foot-3 counterpart as a deadly downfield menace. The Cowboys rode to Tremendous Bowl XXXVII on Harper’s 70-yard slant, toppling the 49ers within the NFC title recreation, and Troy Aikman’s WR2 gave defenses matches in 1993 as effectively. Harper’s 24.9 receiving yards per recreation in 1994 are essentially the most up to now 27 years; he added a 94-yard landing in opposition to the Packers in these playoffs. Harper’s 1995 Bucs signing was dangerous for each events, and his profession was not the identical exterior of Dallas.


Duriel Harris

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Harris arrived in a transition interval, becoming a member of the Dolphins as Bob Griese was winding down and didn’t consider a lot with Dan Marino. However the deep menace was one of many NFL’s higher receivers within the late Seventies and early ’80s. Harris teamed with Nat Moore on Griese’s closing groups and loved his personal WR1 second on the 1981 Dolphins, who used David Woodley as their major QB. The Dolphins’ high wideout that 12 months posted 106 yards within the “Epic in Miami” — arguably the NFL’s best recreation — and was the hook-and-ladder pitchman that evening. Not an finish zone mainstay (20 TDs in 10 seasons), however an underrated producer for a interval.


Ben Hawkins

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The Eagles of the late Sixties and early ’70s operated largely off the radar, clearly limiting Hawkins’ photograph alternatives (although, his often-dangling chinstrap was photogenic). Hawkins led the NFL in receiving in his second season, breaking off a 1,265-yard slate in 1967. He later performed a co-starring function alongside proficient Harolds — Jackson and Carmichael. Nonetheless, Tom Landry as soon as referred to as Hawkins essentially the most harmful wideout within the NFL. Enjoying principally with Jackson — the NFL’s receiving chief within the Seventies — the flashy pass-catcher compiled 4 extra 600-plus-yard seasons in a tough period to amass such stats.


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Devery Henderson and Lance Moore

Devery Henderson and Lance Moore

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Grouping Drew Brees’ high two Tremendous Bowl-era function receivers feels acceptable, and their disparate skillsets complemented Marques Colston effectively. Throughout a nine-season Saints run, Henderson twice led the NFL in yards per catch and added 4 playoff TDs — two throughout New Orleans’ run to Tremendous Bowl XLIV. Moore functioned as Brees’ slot presence throughout his finest years, thrice scoring not less than eight TDs in a season. Each performed pivotal roles as Brees set the then-single-season passing yardage file in 2011 and broke Johnny Unitas’ longstanding mark for consecutive video games with a landing go. 


Santonio Holmes

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Holmes’ toe-tapping Tremendous Bowl XLIII game-winner might double because the WR2 brand. Hines Ward’s apprentice took over in crunch time, totaling 73 yards on an 88-yard game-winning drive. After successful Tremendous Bowl MVP honors, the previous first-round choose did take over as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 goal in 2009. However he performed simply 4 years in Pittsburgh; Ward remained Ben Roethlisberger’s high wideout for many of that span. The Steelers shipped Holmes to the Jets in 2010, and he then supported Braylon Edwards. Holmes’ profession was almost too good for a WR2 tag, however the nine-year vet couldn’t fairly escape the label.


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T.J. Houshmandzadeh

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

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Houshmandzadeh’s emergence modified the Bengals’ plans. The seventh-round choose usurped top-five draftee Peter Warrick in Cincinnati’s aerial pecking order and teamed with Chad Johnson to type one of many twenty first century’s high receiving duos. Houshmandzadeh paired with Johnson at Oregon State and in Cincinnati, and the long-haired contested-catch standout reeled off six straight 900-plus-yard seasons through the 2000s. Housh’s possession prowess peaked in 2007 when he led the NFL with 112 catches. Later a Seahawk, Houshmandzadeh performed 11 seasons and amassed greater than 7,000 yards.


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Marvin Jones and Golden Tate

Marvin Jones and Golden Tate

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These teammates shared WR1 duties for a bit in Detroit, however Kenny Golladay overtook them pretty shortly. Tate and Jones each caddied for stars previous to becoming a member of forces — Tate being Calvin Johnson’s closing Lions auxiliary piece and Jones breaking into the NFL throughout A.J. Inexperienced’s Professional Bowl streak. Tate has been one in all this stretch’s high slot receivers, getting into the league as a Sidney Rice complement earlier than compiling three 1,000-yard years in Detroit. A superior deep goal, Jones has two four-TD video games and — after a season-nullifying 2014 damage — has delivered high-floor work for six straight years. He’ll now assist groom Trevor Lawrence.


Ed McCaffrey

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A possession receiver and downfield blocker for Terrell Davis, McCaffrey was at no level the Broncos’ No. 1 goal. The 1991 Giants third-round choose started his Denver tenure as Anthony Miller’s sidekick earlier than a prolonged Rod Smith partnership started in 1997. Smith and McCaffrey teamed as starters via the 2003 season, gathering two Tremendous Bowl rings and dropping three 1,000-1,000 seasons — two of which coming after John Elway’s retirement and all after McCaffrey’s thirtieth birthday. Christian’s father absorbed appreciable over-the-middle punishment however saved his shoulder pads small. The 6-foot-5 cog performed 13 seasons and almost hit 7,500 yards.


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Keenan McCardell

Keenan McCardell

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McCardell straddles the road between 1-A and WR2, however Jimmy Smith is probably one of the best participant in Jaguars historical past and Keyshawn Johnson was the Buccaneers’ high early-aughts wideout. McCardell was not a gradual Professional Bowler (two in 16 seasons), however he produced 5 1,000-yard seasons and proved important to the Jags’ rise and the Bucs reaching the mountaintop. A former Browns UDFA, McCardell signed with the Jags in 1996; they made the following 4 playoff fields. He joined the Bucs in 2002, caught a landing go in Tremendous Bowl XXXVII, and ultimately outlasted Johnson in Tampa. He was productive with the Chargers in his mid-30s as effectively. 


Brett Perriman

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Perriman preceded Quinn Early as Eric Martin Saints help, however his profession took off after he signed with the Lions in 1991. A part of 4 Detroit playoff groups throughout his six-year keep, Perriman labored because the No. 2 man alongside All-Professional Herman Moore. The duo lacked QB consistency, taking part in with the Rodney Peete-Erik Kramer-Andre Ware trio for 3 seasons and Scott Mitchell for the following three. Perriman exploded for 1,488 yards for a 1995 Lions squad that noticed him, Moore, and Barry Sanders high 1,500 scrimmage yards. At 31, Perriman exceeded 1,000 once more in ’96. He performed 10 seasons and totaled almost 7,000 yards.


Jake Reed

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Randy Moss and Cris Carter shaped a two-Corridor of Famer receiver tandem, however Carter’s peak occurred reverse Reed within the mid-Nineteen Nineties. A 1991 third-rounder, Reed developed whereas Anthony Carter’s Vikings tenure wound down. In 1994, Warren Moon arrived and fed one of many decade’s defining duos. Carter attained fame, making the Professional Bowl every year from 1994-97, however Reed supplied one of many highest flooring in WR2 annals. He cleared 1,100 yards in every of those seasons and absolutely would have made a Professional Bowl in in the present day’s alternate-happy period. Reed helped Minnesota to 3 playoff berths. He took a backseat post-Moss however ended up taking part in 12 seasons.


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Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders

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Sanders performed an important half in two groups reaching Tremendous Bowls and has turn out to be a WR2 mercenary. The uncommon Steelers wideout draftee to peak elsewhere, Sanders arrived in Denver simply forward of Peyton Manning’s decline. He surpassed 1,000 yards in his first three Bronco seasons and have become Manning’s go-to weapon within the 2015 playoffs, serving to a restricted Denver offense do sufficient to assert a title. The gritty mid-range weapon made the Professional Bowl with Trevor Siemian at QB and enhanced the 2019 49ers’ passing assault, almost gathering a second ring. Going into his age-34 season, Sanders stays a high quality starter.


Ricky Sanders

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Regardless of spending his first two professional years within the USFL, Sanders reeled off almost 6,500 NFL yards in 10 seasons. Washington traded for Sanders’ rights in 1986, including him to type “The Posse” — an Artwork Monk-Gary Clark-Sanders triad that thrived for six seasons and have become the primary wideout trio to go 1,000-1,000-1,000 (in 1989). Sanders ripped off two 1,100-yard seasons, working because the de facto sidekick for Clark and Monk, and his Tremendous Bowl XXII 193-yard, two-TD scorching of the Broncos led to a extensively considered reception on the White Home garden. Sanders received two rings and lasted till age 35.


George Sauer

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Amount-wise, Sauer’s resume is missing. However Don Maynard’s overqualified complementary cog might have made a Corridor of Fame bid — had he chosen to proceed his profession previous 27. The Jets signed Sauer as a UDFA in 1965 and instantly paired the rookie with Maynard in Joe Namath’s rookie 12 months. The highest-flight route runner posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1966-68 and performed a serious function within the Jets upsetting the Colts in Tremendous Bowl III. With Maynard hampered by a hamstring damage, Sauer caught eight passes for 133 yards in professional soccer’s signature upset. Not massive on the NFL life, Sauer opted to retire after the 1970 season.


Darnay Scott

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A part of one of many extra missed profitable receiver pairings in trendy NFL historical past, Scott labored because the Bengals’ No. 2 wideout for a lot of the Nineteen Nineties. Scott teamed with Professional Bowler Carl Pickens throughout this era. Sadly for the proficient go catchers, the Bengals had been horrible for many of the decade. Scott by no means performed in a playoff recreation however caught loads of Jeff Blake moon-balls and, in six Cincinnati seasons, by no means recorded fewer than 797 receiving yards. The San Diego State product returned from a damaged leg in 2001 to guide an aerial corps that housed rookies Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. 


Freddie Solomon

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A part of an enormous commerce bundle that despatched working again Delvin Williams to the Dolphins in 1978, Solomon performed a ground-floor function within the 49ers’ ascent. The school QB-turned-NFL deep menace arrived in San Francisco months earlier than Invoice Walsh and starred within the famed innovator’s West Coast Offense. Solomon began 97 video games with the 49ers, and whereas Dwight Clark labored as Joe Montana’s high possibility, Solomon was not far behind. He led Tremendous Bowl-winning 1981 and ’84 49ers squads in TD catches and added 4 extra within the playoffs en path to these championships. Solomon performed 11 seasons, retiring after Jerry Rice’s rookie 12 months.


John Taylor

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It could have been fascinating if Taylor had his personal receiving corps to guide, however he nonetheless acquired appreciable consideration for being Jerry Rice’s air help. Whereas not fairly on the MJ-Scottie stage, Rice and Taylor shredded defenses collectively for almost a decade and picked up three Tremendous Bowl rings. A Delaware State alum, Taylor was not but a starter when he caught the long-lasting Tremendous Bowl XXIII game-winner. He then totaled two 1,000-yard seasons — one with Joe Montana, one with Steve Younger — and the run-after-catch demon (see: Anaheim, 1989) bridged the hole all the best way to the T.O. period. A primary-ballot WR2 Corridor of Famer.

Sam Robinson is a Kansas Metropolis, Mo.-based author who principally writes in regards to the NFL. He has lined sports activities for almost 10 years. Boxing, the Royals and Pandora stations that includes feminine rock protagonists are a few of his go-tos. Sometimes fascinating tweets @SRobinson25.


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