The Dallas Cowboys came to existence in 1960 and began their rich history under head coach Tom Landry. Over the years, the Cowboys have employed legendary coaches, Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and champions all around. They are hoping for the same luck in the future.
The Cowboys recently signed Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100 million deal to remain in Dallas. They also have promising young receivers in Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb, the latter of whom they took in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Dallas is hoping that one of these receivers might make it on this list one day.
Here are the top five wide receivers in franchise history.
5. Tony Hill
The Cowboys selected Hill in the third round of the 1977 NFL Draft. He joined the team and did not make an impact in his first season. Despite playing 14 games as a rookie, Hill caught just two passes for 21 yards.
In 1978, Hill began the best stretch of his career. He was named a Pro Bowler two years in a row. In his second year, Hill caught 46 passes for 823 yards and six touchdowns. He followed that up with 60 catches for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 1982, Hill ran into some injury problems. He was unable to play a full season until his final year in 1986.
Hill retired after spending all 10 years of his career with the Cowboys. He eclipsed 1,000 yards three times. At the time of his retirement, Hill was the franchise leader in receiving yards with 7,988. He currently ranks third on the all-time list.
4. Drew Pearson
When Hill joined the Cowboys in 1977, Pearson had already played four years and established himself as one of the top receivers in the league. During his first five years in Dallas, Pearson was a three time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro selection.
It began in 1974 when he finished with 62 catches for 1,087 yards and two touchdowns. In 1977, he led the NFL with 870 receiving yards. Pearson could have landed higher on this list but he was not a big touchdown receiver. He caught eight touchdowns each in 1975 and 1979. These would be the highest single-season marks of his career.
Pearson is currently fourth on the all-time receiving list with 7,822 yards. He is seventh all time in touchdowns. Pearson caught just 48 touchdowns in 11 years with the Cowboys.
3. Bob Hayes
Hayes was around during the early years of the Cowboys’ franchise and was one of the all time draft steals. Dallas selected Hayes in the seventh round of the 1964 NFL Draft. The Florida A&M product joined the Cowboys and burst onto the scene as a rookie.
In 1965, Hayes finished with 1,003 yards and a league-leading 12 touchdowns. He led the league in touchdowns once again in 1966 with 13. Hayes earned his first of two All-Pro nods after a career-high 1,232 receiving yards. In four of his first five years in the NFL, Hayes scored double-digit touchdowns. Hayes was also a big play threat. He led the NFL in yards per reception in 1970 with 26.1 and 1971 with 24.
Hayes spent 10 years with the Cowboys before playing his final season with the San Francisco 49ers. He is currently third all time in franchise history with 71 receiving touchdowns and sixth in receiving yards with 7,265. Hayes was enshrined in the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
2. Dez Bryant
Bryant entered the 2010 NFL Draft and was a surefire first-round pick. He was a monster at Oklahoma State and ended up being the second wide receiver taken, behind Demaryius Thomas. Bryant came into the NFL and it did not take him long to turn into one of the best receivers in the league.
In his rookie year, Bryant played 12 games and finished with 561 yards and six touchdowns. Beginning in 2011, Bryant emerged as the Cowboys’ No. 1 option. He was targeted 103 times and caught 63 passes for 928 yards and nine touchdowns.
The 2012 season began a dominant three year stretch for Bryant. He finished with 92 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. He followed that up with 93 catches for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns the very next year. In 2014, Bryant led the league in receiving touchdowns with 16. He was named to the All-Pro First Team after posting 88 catches for 1,320 yards. The 2014 season also brought the controversial play involving Bryant in the divisional round against the Green Bay Packers.
Bryant has not played in the NFL since 2017 but has yet to retire. Bryant leads the Cowboys’ franchise with 73 receiving touchdowns. He is currently fifth in receiving yards. During his tenure, Bryant was one of the most dominant receivers in football.
1. Michael Irvin
Irvin was selected 11th overall in the 1988 NFL Draft. He joined a terrible Cowboys team that went 4-28 over his first two seasons in the league. It took Irvin until his fourth season to turn into an elite receiver.
In 1991, Irvin earned his first of five straight Pro Bowl selections and his lone first-team All-Pro nod. He finished with 93 catches for a league-high 1,523 yards and eight touchdowns. Irvin would not finish with fewer than 1,200 yards in the next five years and would eclipse 1,000 yards in seven of the next eight. In 1995, Irvin had his best statistical season with 111 catches for 1,603 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Irvin built a connection with quarterback Troy Aikman. The Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the span of four years. In the year they did not win, they were eliminated in the NFC Championship Game. Irvin was a big game player. In Super Bowl XXVII, Irvin finished with six catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-17 blowout against the Buffalo Bills. The very next year, the Cowboys would defeat the Bills in the Super Bowl once again. Irvin logged five catches for 66 yards. Two years later, Irvin would get his third ring and catch five passes for 76 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Irvin currently ranks second on the Cowboys all-time receiving list and is the No. 1 wide receiver with 11,904 yards. He is also second in catches with 750 and fourth in touchdowns with 65. Irvin made a huge impact on the field for the Cowboys and will be known as their best wide receiver for quite some time.