Tom Brady’s biggest pass-catcher list includes Gronk, Moss

During the first half of his career, Tom Brady he didn’t have much at his disposal in the form of star receivers.

This was the exact opposite during the second half of his career, as he was inundated with a large number capable and even record-breaking options to jump into.

His range of weapons has undoubtedly helped him sustain unrivaled success during his second decade of play, and it’s unknown how he would have fared in the 2010s and beyond without such a litany of goals.

So let’s show some love to the GOAT’s wide open ones. These are some of the best receivers Brady has had in recent years.

RANDY MOSS

Bocce Pro Career: 6 (Four times All-Pro in the first team)

1,000 yard seasons: 10

The Brady-Moss combo may very well have been the best partnership Brady has enjoyed in just one season. The two were nearly unstoppable together, taking over the top of several defenses with Brady’s rocket arm and Moss’s rare speed and jumping ability.

Moss’s first season in New England was Brady’s most prolific as a passerby, as he set an NFL record of TD passes with 50, while Moss’s 23 goal receptions are yet to be matched by another wideout. Moss recorded 1,493 yards out of 98 catches that season, while Brady had the second highest pass yard total of his term (4,806). He only broke that number last season.

JULY JONES

Bocce Pro Career: 7 (five times All-Pro in the first team)

1,000 yard seasons: 7

Jones is the latest Hall of Fame name to line up alongside Tom Terrific, but his career track record is perhaps second to none among active receivers.

“Jet” has been plagued with injuries in recent years and has dressed for no more than 10 games in the past two seasons, but when he’s right, it’s a sight to behold. At 6 feet-3,220 pounds, Jones possesses astronomical speed (4.34 dash from 40 yards), with gigantic force that allows him to bench 350 pounds. And for nearly a decade in Atlanta, that natural dexterity allowed him to record six consecutive seasons of at least 1,390 yards in reception, including the third most yards in a single all-time season (1,871) in 2015.

CHAD “EIGHT-FIVE” JOHNSON

Bocce Pro Career: 6 (Twice All-Pro in the first team)

1,000 yard seasons: 7

The man they call “Ochocinco” (by his own request) was in the twilight of his career when the Pats mistook him for him in 2011. Bill Belichick and New England gave up four draft picks for the then 33-year-old, who since 2002 he had inflamed the defenses with unrivaled ability in course running in Cincinnati. Johnson’s vigorous pace during his heyday included five consecutive nods to the Pro Bowl from 2003 to 2007, in which he broke the 1,300-yard mark four times.

Brady and Johnson combined for just 15 links in the 2011 campaign, good for 276 yards (18.4 yards per reception) and a lone TD. The highlight of his he only season with NE came in Super Bowl XLVI, where he scored Brady’s longest pass of the day at 21 yards. The Pats lost 21-17 to the Giants.

ANTONIO BROWN

Bocce Pro Career: 7 (Four times in the All Pro first team)

1,000 yard seasons: 6

Before he was a rapper, many considered Antonio Brown to be the most feared receiver in the league. He was sometimes unattended in Pittsburgh, with a cunning work ethic to boot, and boasted a number of accolades that few have won throughout their careers. These include four consecutive first-team All-Pro selections, a Super Bowl (LVI) ring, two-time championship lead in both receptions (2014, 2015) and yards received (2014, 2017) and a place on the team NFL All-Decade for 2010s.

So it wasn’t a surprise to see Brady heavily petitioning for Brown’s services after he was released by the Raiders in 2019. Brady’s persuasion worked, but Brown only played one game in New England (taking four balls for 56 yards and a score) before being released in the midst of a sexual assault scandal. He joined Brady again in TB, this time recording 87 receptions for 1,083 yards, eight TDs and a Super Bowl win in two seasons before his premature departure in 2022.

WES WELKER

Bocce Pro Career: 5 (twice First Team All Pro)

1,000 yard seasons: 5

Look up the slot receiver on a dictionary and you’ll see a big bold image of Wes Welker smiling at you. Welker gave slot receivers a claim to fame during his early years with TB12 and earned his money as a ready-made pillow for Brady whenever he needed it, which was often during his time with NE

Only Gale Sayers had more all-purpose yards than Welker during his first three seasons in the league, and immediately became a 1,000-yard regular after joining the Pats in 2007. He made consecutive second-team All-Pro teams in the 2007 and 2008, before consolidating the offer for the first team in 2009 with 123 record receptions. Catching passes is what the sure-footed savant has become famous for and Welker has led the NFL in receptions three of his six seasons at Foxborough, creating another first-team All-Pro squad in 2011 with 122 hurdles for 1,569 yards.

JULIAN EDELMAN

Bocce Pro Career: 0

1,000 yard seasons: 2

Talk about slot players. Edelman undoubtedly fits the bill for men who excelled in this role, and after Welker left New England for Denver after the 2012 season, Edelman quickly moved into the vacant role the following year.

The year 2013 marked the first 1,000-yard season of the hard-nosed receiver’s career, and he had no trouble coming forward in Welker’s wake, continuing to record three more seasons of over 1,000 yards (1,106 in 2016, 1,117 in 2019) through 2020. Edelman has never been nominated for a Pro Bowl, nor has he received All-Pro recognition during his tenure with NE, but where he lacks individual results, he makes up for it completely with three Super Bowl rings and an MVP of the game for SB LIII.

MIKE EVANS

Bocce Pro Career: 4

1,000 yard seasons: 8

Evans has been the epitome of consistency in the NFL since the beginning of his career and Brady’s arrival in Tampa only elevated his prowess.

He played in at least 15 games in seven of his eight seasons as a pro and logged at least 1,000 yards in each, reaching 1,524 in 2018. Evans has been involved in a 1/1-A role alongside Pro Bowl receiver Chris Godwin since 2018 and Godwin’s presence in the lineup distracted attention from the 6-foot-5 ballhawk. Evans thrived on this, scoring 13 TDs in 2020 and a career best 14 in 2021.

ROB GRONKOWSKI

Bocce Pro Career: 5 (Four times All-Pro in the first team)

1,000 yard seasons: 8

Technically he’s not a wide receiver, but it seems only fair that we end up with Gronk. Gronkowski was never hiding in the fray when he dressed up alongside the GOAT, and despite his massive build and the fact that most defenders knew who would get a lump sum of Brady’s goals, he didn’t care.

Perhaps the most productive tight end of all time, Gronk recorded 9,286 receiving yards out of 621 receptions and scored 92 TDs. He is a four-time Super Bowl champion, has the most 100 and most yard games received by a TE in NFL history (32) and has the second most TDs in post-season history (15). Gronk also has the most receptions (23) and yards received (297) in Super Bowl history and is an all-time member of the NFL’s 100th anniversary team. And he did it while queuing alongside Brady throughout his career.


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