Larry Fitzgerald is second place behind only Jerry Rice on this list
Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald are the only two players in NFL history with more than 1,400 catches in the regular season. Now 37, Fitzgerald may not play long enough to catch Rice but finishing his career second on the NFL's all-time career receptions list would be one of the many highlights on his plaque when he gets enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here's a quick recap of the top 25 in career catches in NFL history (regular-season games only).
Note: Stats for active players (marked by *) are through the 2020 regular season.
NFL All-time Receptions Leaders List
1. Jerry Rice, 1,549 catches
The GOAT became the all-time receptions leader in 1995 and then went on to play nine more seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks. However, of the three career receiving records he holds (receptions, yards, and touchdowns), this is the most attainable one of that trifecta.
2. Larry Fitzgerald*, 1,432 catches
At 32, Fitzgerald became the youngest player to catch 1,000 passes. Chances are Fitzgerald won't play long enough to catch Rice on this list (or in career receiving yards) but he did just finish his 17th season with the Cardinals.
3. Tony Gonzalez, 1,325 catches
Arguably the greatest tight end of all time, Gonzalez set the records for receptions and yards at the position during his 17-season career with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019, which was his first year of eligibility.
4. Jason Witten*, 1,228 catches
After a one-year stint on "Monday Night Football," Witten returned to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2019 season but played this past season for the Las Vegas Raiders. If this was his last season (for real this time), it's the final chapter in his remarkable Hall of Fame career.
5. Marvin Harrison, 1,102 catches
Harrison played all of his 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and 953 of his catches came from Peyton Manning's passes. That's the most between one wide receiver and quarterback in NFL history.
6. Cris Carter, 1,101 catches
Carter retired after 16 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and Miami Dolphins as the second-leading receiver in receptions and touchdowns. While those marks have been surpassed, the Hall of Famer was only behind Herry Rice in dominating the wide receiver position during the 1990s
7. Tim Brown, 1,094 catches
The only wide receiver to ever win the Heisman Trophy was also the one constant source of stability during his career with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015 for his efforts.
8. Terrell Owens, 1,078 catches
In stints with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals, Owens was often the best at his position. But he also embodied an old mafia truism: "Don't make more noise than money."
9. Anquan Boldin, 1,076 catches
Boldin only caught 100 passes in two of his 14 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions. Yet he remained a reliable fixture in the receiver corps in all of those seasons and won a Super Bowl along the way.
10. Reggie Wayne, 1,070 catches
Wayne played 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and retired with more than 1,000 receptions and 14,000 receiving yards.
11. Andre Johnson, 1,062 catches
The second wide receiver ever drafted by the Houston Texans is the franchise's all-time leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
12. Steve Smith Sr., 1,031 catches
In 2005, Smith captured receiving's "Triple Crown" by leading the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, a feat only accomplished by Jerry Rice and Sterling Sharpe in the Super Bowl era. The former Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens wideout has successfully made the transition to TV, currently serving as an analyst for the NFL Network.
13. Isaac Bruce, 1,024 catches
As a receiver for the St. Louis Rams, Bruce made the Pro Bowl from 1999-2001 during "The Greatest Show on Turf" era. He also retired with more than 15,000 receiving yards and a career average of 15 yards per catch. Bruce was one of the five "Modern-Era Players" selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2020 and he is slated to be officially inducted into Canton this August.
14. Hines Ward, 1,000 catches
The Pittsburgh Steelers wideout caught his 1,000th career reception in his final regular-season game. With Antonio Brown's "departure" (currently 28th on this list with 841 rec.), his status as Pittsburgh's all-time leading receiver is secure for the time being.
15. Randy Moss, 982 catches
Moss' career with the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, and San Francisco 49ers had its ups and downs. That being said, about 16 percent of his receptions were for touchdowns (156, second only to Jerry Rice's 197).
16. Brandon Marshall, 970 catches
Marshall played for seven different teams and made six Pro Bowls. He also holds the record for the most receptions in a single game with 21.
17. Antonio Gates, 955 catches
A star high school tight end, Gates opted to play basketball at Kent State. When it was clear he wasn't the right size for any position in the NBA, he decided to pursue an NFL career at his old high school position. The lack of college experience did not prevent him from becoming the all-time leading receiver in San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers history. On Jan. 14, Gates announced his retirement after a 16-year career that saw him finish with 11,841 receiving yards (29th all-time) and 116 touchdown catches (seventh), and will likely see him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame once he's eligible.
18. Andre Reed, 951 catches
In addition to having a Hall of Fame career with the Buffalo Bills, Reed also has the second-most career catches in Super Bowl history (27) behind Jerry Rice.
19. Derrick Mason, 943 catches
After 10 seasons with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, Mason signed with the Baltimore Ravens, where he had his most prolific years. He remains the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions with 471.
20. Art Monk, 940 catches
A three-time Super Bowl champion with the Washington Redskins, Monk was the first to ever catch 900 career passes. The standing ovation for him when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was the longest in the institution's history.
21. Torry Holt, 920 catches
The other fixture in the receiving corps of the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf," Holt holds the NFL record with the most yards in a single decade (2000-09) with 12,594.
22. Wes Welker, 903 catches
A favorite receiver of both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, Welker caught 672 passes in a six-season span. He also made some of the most bizarrely funny commercials ever with Old Spice.
23. Antonio Brown*, 886 catches
The NFL's best receiver during his prime (2014-17) with the Steelers, Brown's career has been on quite the roller coaster since wearing out his welcome in Pittsburgh. Initially traded to the Raiders prior to the 2019 season, Brown never played for them due to a series of highly publicized incidents during training camp. In the last two seasons, Brown has been with three different teams but has played a total of just nine games (one with the Patriots in 2019 and eight with the Buccaneers in 2020), as he's gotten much more attention for the news he's generated off the field than what he's accomplished on it.
24. Keenan McCardell, 883 catches
McCardell was reliable during his 16-year career with the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and San Diego Chargers and won two Super Bowls along the way.
25. Jimmy Smith, 862 catches
Keenan McCardell's Jaguar teammate was just as reliable when the two played in Jacksonville before substance abuse issues slowed his career.