It's been a little bit, but with training camp approaching, it's time to look back at some history. This time it is the wide receivers. For all intensive purposes, I will focus on the top three for each year, but will give cursory mention to all that caught a pass.
For discussion purposes, it is your job to reminisce. Who do you remember? Whom did you hate? Who stood out? Whom had you forgotten? You might be surprised at who you see.
1988: Roy Green, J.T. Smith, Ernie Jones
Green had 68 catches for 1097 yards and seven TD, Smith had 83 and 986 with five TD, while Jones had 23, 496 and three. This is the trio I first remember. I didn't get to see Green or Smith in the prime of their careers. Another guy named Don Holmes also caught a pass.
1989: J.T. Smith, Ernie Jones, Roy Green
Smith, in only nine games, managed to haul in 62 passes for 778 yards and five scores. Jones was good for down the field, averaging over 18 yards a reception (45 for 838 yards and three scores). Green had 44 for 703, but led the team with seven TD catches. Don Holmes caught 13 passes, Phil McConkey caught two and some guy Daryl Usher caught one.
1990: Ricky Proehl, Roy Green, Ernie Jones
Smith was a shell of himself, catching 18 passes in 13 games. But Proehl, drafted that year, was the most productive. With 56 catches, 802 yards and four scores, he led in all categories. Jones had 43 for 724 and four, while Green had 53 for 797 and four.
1991: Ernie Jones, Ricky Proehl, Randall Hill
The team said goodbye to Smith, and Jones continued to be the downfield target, He had 62 catches, 951 yards and four scores. Proehl had 55 for 766 and two. The newcomer was a disappointment. The team traded their first round pick for the speedy Randall Hill, who was drafted by the Dolphins the previous year and had not done much. He did not become the deep threat the team had hoped. He caught 45 passes for 495 yards and one score. The other receiver to catch passes on the roster was John Jackson, who caught eight passes, but he was the team's main punt returner.
1992: Ricky Proehl, Randall Hill, Ernie Jones
Proehl caught 60 for 744 and three scores. Hill had his best year with 58 catches, 861 yards and three scores. Jones had only 38 catches. Special teams ace Anthony Edwards (now working the front office) caught 14 passes, while John Jackson caught one.
1993: Ricky Proehl, Gary Clark, Randall Hill
Proehl had his best season, catching 65 passes for 897 yards and seven scores. Right behind him was Gary Clark, who joined the Cards after a solid career already in Washington, having had five 1000 yard seasons there. Clark had 63 for 818 and four scores, while Hill regressed to 35 catches. Edwards also catches 13 passes.
1994: Ricky Proehl, Gary Clark, Randall Hill
This was not a good year for the passing game. Proehl led the team with a whopping 51 passes, followed by Clark's 50 and Hill's 38. Proehl scored five times, Clark one and Hill not at all. Some guy named Patrick Robinson had a catch. That was it for the receivers. Thanks, Buddy Ryan (he gave Jim McMahon a start! What?). At least the defense was good.
1995: Rob Moore, Frank Sanders, Anthony Edwards
Moore led the way with 63 catches, 907 yards and five scores. The rookie Sanders had 52 for 883 and two scores (if you don't remember him, Sanders was a pretty solid player during a terrible period). Proehl was not brought back, as Buddy Ryan didn't think he was worth much. Little did we know that Proehl would be an important contributor on the Rams when they were going to Super Bowls. Anthony Edwards sets his career high with 29 catches. A certain Marcus Dowdell had 10 catches.
1996: Frank Sanders, Rob Moore, Anthony Edwards
The star pass catcher was Larry Centers with 99 catches out of the backfield, but Sanders led the wideouts with 69 and 813 yards. Moore, though, became the first Cardinals receiver to reach 1000 since 1998 when Roy Green did it. Moore caught 58 for 1016 and four scores. Edwards tied his career high with 29, while Marcus Dowdell would haul in 20 and and Stevie Anderson would notch a whole four.
1997: Rob Moore, Frank Sanders, Anthony Edwards/Kevin Williams
For the first time in team history, there are two 1000 yard receivers. Moore catches 97 passes for 1584 yards and eight TD. Sanders gets 75 for 1017 and four. Edwards and Williams each get 20. A Fred Brock catches one 29-yard pass.
1998: Frank Sanders, Rob Moore, Eric Metcalf
Moore was 18 yards short of making it two straight years of two 100-yard receivers. Sanders led with 89 catches for 1145 yards, but only three scores. Moore had 67 catches and five scores. Metcalf, the team's top returner, had 31 catches. Fred Brock caught two and Ronnie Anderson had one.
1999: Frank Sanders, David Boston, Rob Moore
Moore's production dropped a lot. He only had 37 catches. Sanders did not reach 1000 yards, as he pulls in 79 catches for 954 yards, but only scored once. Rookie Boston, taken in the first round, got his feet wet with 40 catches and two scores. Mac Cody, the team's punt returner, has six catches and Andy McCullough caught three.
2000: David Boston, Frank Sanders, MarTay Jenkins/Mac Cody
Boston had his breakout season with 71 receptions, 1156 yards and seven TD. Sanders had 54, 749 and six. Jenkins and Cody each caught 17 passes. The other receiver to catch a pass was Tywan Mitchell.
2001: David Boston, Frank Sanders, MarTay Jenkins
Boston had a monster year -- 98 catches, 1598 yards and eight scores. The yards set a team record. Sanders caught 41 passes, Jenkins had 32, Tywan Mitchell (no recollection of him) had 25 and a guy, Arnold Jackson, had nine. It was pretty much the David Boston show.
2002: Frank Sanders, David Boston, Jason McAddley
This was an awful year for receivers. The team leader was tight end Freddie Jones with 44 and runnning back Marcel Shipp had 38. Sanders led the receivers with 34 and Boston only had 32 (he only played in eight games). McAddley caught 25.
2003: Anquan Boldin, Bryant Johnson, Bryan Gilmore
The team traded down in the first round to select Johnson, but it was Boldin that burst onto the scene, setting a record with 10 catches and 217 yards in his debut. He finished the season with 101 catches, 1377 yards and eight scores. Johnson, although disappointing, was second among wideouts with 35 catches. The second highest pass catcher was tight end Freddie Jones. After Johnson was Gilmore with 17. Other receivers to catch passes were Kevin Casper, Nate Poole (whose touchdown catch to end the year kept the team from getting the number one selection in the draft), Jason McAddley and Larry Foster.
2004: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Bryant Johnson
The year of Fitz! The team drafted him third overall after losing out on the first pick because of the last second win in Week 17. Fitz led the team with 58 catches, 780 yards and eight scores. It wasn't the rookie year that Boldin had, but he made an impact. Boldin had only 56 and one score, but because of injuries, he played in only 10 games. Johnson had 49 catches, which certainly was not what a first rounder from the previous year should have had. The other receivers that no one will really remember who caught passes were Karl Williams, Nate Poole and reggie Newhouse.
2005: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Bryant Johnson
Now this was a great year for the receivers, but not the greatest. Fitz had 103 catches, Boldin had 102, and both had over 1400 yards. Fitz scored 10 TD and Boldin scored seven. Johnson caught 40. LeRon McCoy caught 18, Charles Lee caught 11 and Reggie Newhouse caught four.
2006: Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Bryant Johnson
Boldin caught 83 passes for over 1200 yards. Fitz missed three games and just missed 1000 yards, catching 69 passes for 946. Johnson had 40 receptions, while Troy Walters had 23 and Michael Spurlock had four.
2007: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Bryant Johnson
Boldin missed four games to injury, so Fitz took the lead with 100 catches and over 1400 yards. Boldin caught 71 for 853 and nine scores. Johnson had 46 and two TDs. Jerheme Urban caught 23 passes and Sean Morey caught eight.
2008: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston
We finally got here. The Super Bowl season and the one in which all three got 1000 yards. Fitz had 96, 1431 and 12 scores. Boldin had 89, 1038 and 11. Breaston had 77, 1006 and three. Jerheme Urban caught 34 passes for four scores, Early Doucet caught 14. Yep, that was a pretty good year.
2009: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston
Fitz and Boldin both crack 1000 again -- 97/102/13 for Fitz and 84/1024/4 for Boldin. Breaston caught 55 for 712 and three TD. Jerheme Urban and Early Doucet caught 18 and 17.
2010: Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet
Even though it was Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton, Fitz still caught 90 passes for over 1100 yards. Boldin was traded in the offseason. There was a huge dropoff, though. Breaston caught 47 for 718. Doucet had 26 for the next highest total. Rookie Andre Roberts came on strong late in the year and ended with 24. Max Komar had 12 and Stephen Williams had nine.
2011: Larry Fitzgerald, Early Doucet, Andre Roberts
Breaston signed with the Chiefs in the offseason. Fitz had one of his most impressive seasons. His receptions dropped to 80, but he had over 1400 yards and eight scores. Doucet was second on the team in receptions with 54, while Roberts ended the season strong (again) to end with 51. Chansi Stuckey caught four and rookie DeMarco Sampson caught three.
2012: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd
Yuck. Fitz had his worst year, catching only 71 passes and 798 yards. Roberts almost matched him with 64 and 759. Floyd started slowly, but ended the season with a flourish, catching eight balls for two scores and 161 yards. He ended the season with 45 catches and 562 yards. Doucet caught 28 passes and dropped what seemed like a thousand. LaRon Byrd was the only other receiver to catch a pass. He caught one.
We all know who the best have been -- Fitz and Boldin. We did not get to see Roy Green or J.T. Smith at their best.
The best single season? That would probably be Boston.
Was there anyone from before (Sanders, Boston, Clark, Proehl, Moore) that you remember more? What about the players that got only a cursory mention?
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