Larry Fitzgerald Hall of Fame credentials

Christian Petersen

Will he deserve to be immortalized in Canton?

With the Football Hall of Fame balloting beginning I wanted to take a look at Larry Fitzgerald's career and see where he currently stands and estimate where his career will be in five years. At 29 right now Fitzgerald will be 34 and likely close to the end of his NFL career in five years. While it is likely Fitzgerald could play more years, for this article we will cap it at five as most WRs are not productive after 34.

Fitzgerald has been one of the best WRs in the NFL over these last ten seasons, while this year and last his numbers have been down he has still demanded the attention of every opposing defense even when he hasn't had a capable QB. With the reemergence of Carson Palmer and the expectation defying coaching of Bruce Arians it is possible that Fitzgerald finishes the season with a bang and begins to dominate opposing defenses once again for the next few seasons.

A Case for Yards

Right now Fitzgerald sits 29th overall on the NFL Career Receiving Yards Leader board with 11,019 career receiving yards. Only four active players are above him and only Andre Johnson poses an immediate challenge (if you do not count Calvin Johnson at the young age of 27 sitting at 52 on the list and likely to be the next youngest to 11,000 yards).

Jerry Rice owns the record with 22,895 yards and it is unlikely to be passed by Fitzgerald. Next on the list is Terrell Owens with 15,934 yards and if Fitzgerald maintains close to his career average should pass before the five year mark.

NFL Career Receiving Yards Leaders

Rank

Player (age), + - HOFer, Bold - Active

Yds

Years

1.

Jerry Rice+

22,895

1985-2004

2.

Terrell Owens

15,934

1996-2010

3.

Randy Moss

15,292

1998-2012

4.

Isaac Bruce

15,208

1994-2009

5.

Tim Brown

14,934

1988-2004

6.

Tony Gonzalez (36)

14,879

1997-2013

7.

Marvin Harrison

14,580

1996-2008

8.

James Lofton+

14,004

1978-1993

9.

Cris Carter+

13,899

1987-2002

10.

Henry Ellard

13,777

1983-1998

11.

Reggie Wayne (34)

13,566

2001-2013

12.

Torry Holt

13,382

1999-2009

13.

Andre Reed

13,198

1985-2000

14.

Steve Largent+

13,089

1976-1989

15.

Irving Fryar

12,785

1984-2000

16.

Art Monk+

12,721

1980-1995

17.

Jimmy Smith

12,287

1992-2005

18.

Andre Johnson (31)

12,256

2003-2013

19.

Charlie Joiner+

12,146

1969-1986

20.

Hines Ward

12,083

1998-2011

21.

Derrick Mason

12,061

1997-2011

22.

Steve Smith (33)

12,033

2001-2013

23.

Michael Irvin+

11,904

1988-1999

24.

Don Maynard+

11,834

1958-1973

25.

Muhsin Muhammad

11,438

1996-2009

26.

Rod Smith

11,389

1995-2006

27.

Keenan McCardell

11,373

1992-2007

28.

Chad Johnson

11,059

2001-2011

29.

Larry Fitzgerald (29)

11,019

2004-2013

12 games into the season and Fitzgerald has a paltry 678 yards receiving (currently 32nd in the NFL). If we extrapolate his stats, Fitzgerald is one pace for 904 yards. If he maintains that pace it will take him 5.6 years to pass Terrell Owens, so if we stay at the five year window Fitzgerald would retire 3rd on the list with 15,424 yards.

Looking at Fitzgerald's career he has averaged 1157 yards a season over his last nine seasons (not counting this season). If he were to maintain that average, or close to it, Fitzgerald will finish with 16,804 yards and place him 2nd overall all-time. As much as I'd like to believe it possible I do not think Fitzgerald will be able to maintain that pace. Over five years Fitzgerald needs to average 983 yards a season to overpass Owens for 2nd on the list. That to me seems to be a very attainable number for Fitzgerald to average considering his style of play and supreme dedication to his fitness, health and craft.

Touching Down

Looking at touchdowns Fitzgerald is currently tied at 14th on the list with 86 career TDs. The leaders in this case may not be catchable with the all-time great Rice leading the way again with 197 TDs, Randy Moss next with 156 and Owens with 153.

1.

Jerry Rice+

197

1985-2004

2.

Randy Moss

156

1998-2012

3.

Terrell Owens

153

1996-2010

4.

Cris Carter+

130

1987-2002

5.

Marvin Harrison

128

1996-2008

6.

Tony Gonzalez (36)

107

1997-2013

7.

Steve Largent+

100

1976-1989

Tim Brown

100

1988-2004

9.

Don Hutson+

99

1935-1945

10.

Isaac Bruce

91

1994-2009

11.

Don Maynard+

88

1958-1973

12.

Andre Reed

87

1985-2000

13.

Antonio Gates (32)

86

2003-2013

14.

Paul Warfield+

85

1964-1977

Hines Ward

85

1998-2011

Larry Fitzgerald (29)

85

2004-2013

Currently Fitzgerald has nine TD receptions this year and is on pace for 12. For this career Fitzgerald averages 8.5 TDs a season (not counting this season's stats). If Fitzgerald maintains this pace for the next five years he will have 127 career TDs putting him sixth on the list behind Marvin Harrison and above future HOFer Tony Gonzalez.

In order to place behind Rice, Fitzgerald would need at least 71 touchdowns over the next five seasons. While we all wish that would happen, it is highly unlikely Fitzgerald averages 14 TDs a season for the next five years.

HOF Reception

Last stat to consider is receptions. Currently Fitzgerald is tied for 28th on the list with 819 receptions. Not counting this season he is averaging 85 receptions a year over his 9 year career. Again extrapolating his stats we can predict that in five years Fitzgerald will have 1188 receptions. I think this number is very generous considering the drop in receptions Fitzgerald has had these last three years. So based on his last three years averages (counting on-pace-for prediction for this year of 77 receptions) Fitz will likely retire with around 1144 receptions.

1.

Jerry Rice+

1,549

1985-2004

2.

Tony Gonzalez (36)

1,300

1997-2013

3.

Marvin Harrison

1,102

1996-2008

4.

Cris Carter+

1,101

1987-2002

5.

Tim Brown

1,094

1988-2004

6.

Terrell Owens

1,078

1996-2010

7.

Isaac Bruce

1,024

1994-2009

8.

Reggie Wayne (34)

1,006

2001-2013

9.

Hines Ward

1,000

1998-2011

10.

Randy Moss

982

1998-2012

11.

Andre Reed

951

1985-2000

12.

Derrick Mason

943

1997-2011

13.

Art Monk+

940

1980-1995

14.

Torry Holt

920

1999-2009

15.

Andre Johnson (31)

892

2003-2013

16.

Keenan McCardell

883

1992-2007

17.

Jimmy Smith

862

1992-2005

18.

Muhsin Muhammad

860

1996-2009

19.

Jason Witten (30)

857

2003-2013

20.

Irving Fryar

851

1984-2000

21.

Rod Smith

849

1995-2006

22.

Wes Welker (31)

833

2004-2013

23.

Larry Centers

827

1990-2003

24.

Anquan Boldin (32)

824

2003-2013

25.

Steve Smith (33)

823

2001-2013

26.

Steve Largent+

819

1976-1989

27.

Shannon Sharpe+

815

1990-2003

28.

Keyshawn Johnson

814

1996-2006

Larry Fitzgerald (29)

814

2004-2013

As you can see from the list above 1144 receptions would put Fitzgerald third on the list of all time receptions. To surpass Tony Gonzalez, who is likely to finish his career with a few more receptions, Fitzgerald will need to average at least 97 receptions a season the next five season, again an unlikely thing to happen.

Playing it mildly conservative and combining all these guesstimations of where Fitzgerald's stats will be in five years, he could retire with the 2nd most receiving yards, 6th most TDs and 3rd most receptions all time. Those numbers all scream guaranteed HOF on the first ballet.

Prediction for the future

Nothing is guaranteed in this league and with the ridiculous play of Calvin Johnson it is likely that Fitzgerald is remembered as the 3rd or 4th best WR of all time once Johnson is done with his career (depending if you rank Owens or Moss ahead of him). Based on my quick guesstimation math, Johnson is likely to retire (if he maintains his averages) with 19,504 yards, 142 touchdowns and 1187 receptions, firmly entrenching him as the second best WR to ever play the game.

It is a shame the Fitzgerald has not had consistent QB play his entire career because his numbers would be near as gaudy as Johnson's will likely end up being. When it comes time to vote Fitzgerald into the HOF I see him being voted in on his first ballet and as the third best WR to ever play the game.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Revenge of the Birds

You must be a member of Revenge of the Birds to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Revenge of the Birds. You should read them.

Join Revenge of the Birds

You must be a member of Revenge of the Birds to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Revenge of the Birds. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker