The Arizona Cardinals made a splash this offseason by acquiring star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans, adding to receiver corps that already includes future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and rising third year wideout Christian Kirk. Quarterback Kyler Murray and the Cards could be in for one hell of season with D-Hop in tow.
Although they did pass over Murray’s college teammate CeeDee Lamb in the draft, Cardinals fans have a lot of action to look froward to this year.
Before we get too excited to see what Arizona’s air attack will look like this 2020 season, Hopkins isn’t the first great receiver to don a Cardinals jersey.
Having already mentioned Fitz earlier, let’s take a trip back in time and see who are the five best wide receivers in Arizona Cardinals history that DeAndre Hopkins has to chase if he wants to be remembered in the team’s lore.
Rob Moore, Bobby Joe Conrad, Pat Tilley
5. Sonny Randle, 1959-1966
Coming in fifth is legendary Virginia man Sonny Randle. Randle spent his first eight years in the league with the Cardinals and was even around for the the teams move from Chicago to St. Louis. Randle played multiple sports before he finally decided to settle for football and go prof. I’m sure he was happy with the decision. Sonny was named to four Pro Bowls during his career and in 1962, he was selected as an All-Pro team player.
Randle was productive for the Cardinals starting his sophomore season although injuries did hampered him from amassing more statistical achievements. At the end of his time in St. Louis, his totals were at 328 caught passes for 5,438 receiving yards and 60 touchdowns. He held the franchise record for receiving touchdowns until 1989.
4. Mel Gray, 1971-1982
Another multi-talented athlete, Melvin Gray is up next in fourth.
Mel Gray was a standout track and field runner back in high school and he would put his blistering speed to good use when he took a football scholarship to the University of Missouri. The Mizzou alum would then be drafted by the then St. Louis Cardinals in the 1971 draft, keeping him close to his alma mater.
For the next 12 years, Gray would become one of the Cardinals’ best deep threats, putting every inch of his five foot 9 frame to good use in the open field. His lighting quick feet help St. Louis stretch defenses during his run with the team and catching 69-yard long pass in nine of his 12 seasons is proof of this. Additionally, Gray would score 20 touchdowns off passes 50 yards or longer. He averaged around 19 yards per reception.
Though he had a penchant for long plays, Gray never did go over a thousand yards in a single season and had only one season where he scored 10 or more touchdowns. Either way, he was still recognized for his efforts making it to four straight Pro Bowls from 1974-1977.
He left the Cardinals after collecting 351 passes for 6,644 yards and 45 touchdowns.
3. Anquan Boldin, 2003-2009
In back to back years in 2003 and 2004, the Arizona Cardinals drafted two of their franchise’s all-time wideouts and this would eventually lead to their Super Bowl XLII run. One of those receivers is still with the team now and will go down as the best ever to play for the Cards, the other was traded less than a year after their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The former appears later on the list and for now, we have Anquan Boldin.
Boldin was the Cardinals’ second round pick back in 2003 and he didn’t waste any time getting to work. In his very first game as a pro, Boldin had 217 receiving yards which is still the most by anyone in their first NFL game. He would go over 200 yards in four more games his rookie campaign and would end the season as the leagues Offensive Rookie of the Year after totaling 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns. The Florida State product would break the century mark for receiving yards four more times as a Cardinal and two more times after leaving Arizona. He was played in three Pro Bowls for the Arizona team, his first coming during his rookie year.
Boldin’s greatest achievement was winning a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 but it still doesn’t take away from his legacy in Arizona. His career totals with the team that drafted him are 586 receptions, 7,520 receiving yards, and 40 receiving touchdowns.
I know a lot of fans still wonder what could have been if Boldin was never traded.
2. Roy Green, 1979-1990
Roy Green wasn’t as prolific or as talented as the two men he finds himself caught in between on our list but what he “lacked” in pure numbers and stats he did make-up in longevity leading to slightly higher totals, two things he bested Boldin at.
Outside of Jet Stream’s magical 1983-1984 run, his career with the Cardinals wasn’t the most spectacular. He only went over a thousand yards one more time in 1988 but was still decent the rest of the way. He was traded in 1991 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Green’s career numbers with the Arizona Cardinals equate to receptions 522, receiving yards 8,496, and touchdowns 66, which were all franchise records when he was traded.
1. Larry Fitzgerald, 2004-present
I don’t think anyone even outside the Cardinals fandom will their dispute this one. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t only the undisputed greatest wide receiver in Arizona history, but when all is said and done, he will be remembered as one of the best ever.
Fitzgerald was drafted third overall back in 2004 and in the 16 seasons since, he has only missed six out of a possible 256 regular season games. That alone is already an incredible feat but when we get into what he did in those 250 games, the cases just gets stronger for number 11. Fitz’ career totals so far are 1,378 catches for 17,083 yards, and 120 touchdowns, all franchise records and all more than the next two players combined.
Fitz has been selected to 11 Pro Bowl teams in his career so far and legend Jerry Rice is the only other receiver to be invited to more games than him. He’s led the NFL in both receptions and touchdowns twice and has been named an All-Pro team member five times.
Fitz has checked all the boxes except for one in his career and I know a lot of people are rooting for him to finally get that Super Bowl ring. Even he doesn’t though, Larry will still go down as a legend in everyone’s book.