The New England Patriots, originally called the Boston Patriots, were founded in 1960 and were charter members of the American Football League (AFL). It was not until 1970 and their move to Foxborough that they became the New England Patriots. Getting ready to begin their 63rd season as an NFL Franchise, which includes six Super Bowl Championships and 11 Super Bowl appearances, the Pats have had many great players throughout their illustrious history.
Here I am going to list their top five wide receivers in team history. There have been some really good players who have called Foxborough home that are not on the list. Some of these names include Deion Branch who was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, Terry Glenn who helped lead the Pats to Super Bowl XXXI and was also a part of the Pat’s first title team in 2001, and Irving Fryar who helped lead the Pats to Super Bowl XX. As good and as important as these players were, they just missed the cut. Here are my top five Pats receivers of all tiime.
New England Patriots Best Wide Receivers
Julian Edelman played 12 seasons for the Pats from 2009-2020. He finished his career with 620 receptions for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns. He was never a stud wide receiver or the number one receiver for the Pats, but there were games where he played like a stud. Most of those big games came in the postseason and when it mattered the most. There were more than a few big plays that he made. One was the touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the AFC Divisional against the Baltimore Ravens in 2014. Fans will also remember the brilliant catch he made against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Edelman, who was drafted by the Pats in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Kent State where he was a starting quarterback, had a slow start to his Pats career at wide receiver. This was primarily because the Pats had Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez at the time. However, he contributed on special teams as a kick and punt returner. Edelman won three Super Bowls with the Pats and played a huge role in each one. In the Pats Super Bowl XLIX victory against the Seattle Seahawks, he finished with 9 receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown which turned out to be the game-winner. In the Super LI victory against the Falcons, he finished with only five receptions and 87 yards receiving but made one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history that helped the Pats come back from a 28-3 deficit, the largest in Super Bowl history.
Despite those previous Super Bowl performances, Edelman saved his best one for last. In their Super Bowl LIII 13-3 victory against the Los Angeles Rams, he was named Super Bowl MVP after finishing with 10 receptions for 141 yards in a great defensive battle.
Edelman, who ranks second in career postseason receptions and yards behind only the great Jerry Rice, retired after the 2020 season. Some critics may say that Edelman, who never made a Pro Bowl or was never an All-Pro, can’t be considered great, much less the greatest wide receiver for an NFL franchise. That may be fair to say, but the fact of the matter is he has three rings and when the only player who is ahead of you in postseason play is Jerry Rice, then you have done pretty well for yourself no matter what anyone says.
Randy Moss could probably be considered the greatest wide receiver in NFL History if it wasn’t for Jerry Rice. That is certainly debatable, but that is my opinion. He burst onto the scene after being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 21st pick in the 1998 NFL Draft out of Marshall, where he set a rookie record with 17 TD receptions. Plus, who can ever forget his Thanksgiving day performance at Texas Stadium where he torched the Dallas Cowboys for 3 touchdowns on 3 receptions for 163 yards, with each touchdown going for over 50 yards. He had a 14-year career and finished with 982 receptions for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns and was a four-time First-team All-Pro. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
Yes, I know some will say that he was in New England for just a short period of time. That is true since he only played three-plus seasons and 52 games with the Pats. Nonetheless, he is number two on this list. Moss, who Bill Belichick acquired from the Oakland Raiders for a 4th round pick in 2007, was great when he was with the Pats. In 52 games he had 328 receptions for 3904 yards and 50 touchdowns.
That 2007 season was one for the record books. He broke the NFL record for TD receptions in a season with 23, eclipsing Rice’s record of 22. He had 98 receptions and also set the franchise record with 1,493 receiving yards. He also helped the Pats to a 16-0 perfect regular-season record. Of course, every football fan in the world knows what happened against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Despite that loss, what Moss did that season, and all his time with the Pats, he is the second-best wide receiver in team history.
Wes Welker went undrafted in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Texas Tech. He then was signed and then released by the San Diego Chargers before he was signed by the Miami Dolphins. In 2007, the Pats traded 2nd and 7th round picks to the Dolphins to acquire him. It is safe to say that trade worked out well for Welker as he became one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in New England and reached two Super Bowls. In six seasons with the Pats (2007-2012), he had 672 receptions for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns and was a two-time First-team All-Pro. He had over 1,000 yards receiving and at least 110 receptions in five of those seasons.
In his first season with the Pats in 2007, he was named first-team All-Pro and set Pat’s franchise record with 112 receptions. He also helped lead the Pats to an undefeated 16-0 regular season. In Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants, he finished with 11 receptions which tied a then Super Bowl record. In Super Bowl XLVI again against the New York Giants, he finished with 7 receptions for 60 yards in another Pats loss. Welker is remembered for not being able to make a key catch late in the 4th quarter with the Pats leading 17-15 at the time. Welker played one more season in New England before leaving as a free agent to join the Denver Broncos.
Welker had a great 6-year stint with the Pats where he was one of the best receivers in the NFL at the time. It is a shame that he did not win a Super Bowl in his career as he played in three total with two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL History: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Stanley Morgan was selected by the Pats with the 27th pick in the 1977 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. He played 13 seasons in Foxborough and finished with 534 receptions for 10,352 yards and 67 touchdowns and was a 4x Pro Bowler and was named a 2nd Team All-Pro twice. At one time, he was the franchise leader in every receiving category. He is still the leader in receiving yards. He led the NFL in touchdown receptions in 1979 with 12, which was a franchise record. Morgan was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2007.
Morgan helped lead the Pats to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance against the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX, where he had 6 receptions for 51 yards. Morgan’s best season was in 1986 when he hauled in 84 receptions for 1,491 yards, which was a then franchise record. Morgan had a pretty good career with the Pats and is already a member of the team’s Hall of Fame, it remains to be seen if he will be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. I, for one, think he should be.
Troy Brown was drafted in the 8th round of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Marshall. He spent his entire 15-year career and played in five Super Bowls with the Pats winning three championships. He finished his career with 557 receptions for 6,366 yards and 31 touchdowns and made a Pro Bowl in 2001. He not only played wide receiver but was a return specialist and played cornerback as well. He is Pat’s all-time punt return leader with 252 returns for 2,625 yards and 3 touchdowns. On defense, he recorded three interceptions.
In the Pats 2001 season, which ended with their first Super Bowl title, Brown had one of his greatest games in the 2001 AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He not only returned a punt for a touchdown but also scooped up a blocked field goal which he lateraled to Antwan Harris to score another special team’s touchdown for the Pats.
Brown is one of the most popular players in Patriots history. He played his entire career in New England and is currently on the coaching staff as the Running Backs and Kick Returners coach. Brown was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2014.
The New England Patriots are one of the most successful franchises in NFL History. They have had many players who have contributed to that success and finding the 5 best wide receivers in team history was not easy but this list was fun to make.
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