The history of the Cardinals franchise is long and features a lot of players. Who are the greatest wide receivers in team history?
Red Bird Recap’s All-Time Arizona Cardinals roster moves along as we take a look at wide receivers. The Cardinals have had a number of top-notch receivers move through the organization over the years, including one of the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL. Given that this franchise legend is a sure lock for the roster, the remaining spots are a bit more difficult to narrow down, and a typical NFL roster these days carries six receivers.
As the six receivers are selected, there will be Offensive Rookie of the Year winners, perennial Pro Bowl selections, and All-Pro selections. The best thing about the Cardinals franchise is the fact that it’s the oldest in the NFL, making it an absolute joy to sift through all the different players and eras that have been a part of this team. Without further ado, here are the receivers who made the cut for Red Bird Recap’s All-Time Arizona Cardinals roster.
WR6 – Mel Gray
Mel Gray spent the entirety of his career with the Cardinals during the franchise’s tenure in St. Louis. He helped lead the team to back-to-back NFC East division titles in 1974 and 1975. He made the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons between 1974 and 1977, and was named first-team All-Pro in 1975. ’75 was his best individual season statistically as he hauled in 11 receiving touchdowns which the NFL.
Gray also had a presence as a kick returner on some of the Cardinals teams he was on. But he’s most remembered as Jim Hart’s number one go-to receiving option. At his best, he could be among the top receivers in the NFL. Although he never put up a season with 1,000 receiving yards, he came close on a couple of occasions and was a consistently solid fixture in the Cardinals offense.
WR5 – Sonny Randle
Sonny Randle was a very good receiver from the Cardinals earliest years in St. Louis. In fact, he showed out big time in 1960, the franchise’s first season after moving from Chicago, with an NFL-leading 15 receiving touchdowns. That 15 total was enough to lead the combined rushing and receiving touchdown totals as well. He was named first-team All-Pro that season in which the team finished with a record of 6-5-1.
Randle played on the other side of the field for a significant period of time from another solid Cardinals receiver, Bobby Joe Conrad. Of the two, Randle compiled the better statistical seasons. He twice had over 1,000 yards receiving yards in a season (1962, 1963). But the story of his career after this point becomes a shoulder separation that ended his attempt for a third straight 1,000-yard season which he was well on the way to.
WR4 – David Boston
David Boston was an explosive receiver during his Cardinals tenure. Two of his four seasons with the team saw him put up 1,000-yard campaigns, and his 2001 season is one of the best individuals seasons by a Cardinals receiver in franchise history. That season, he put up 1,598 yards which led the NFL. He also led the NFL in receiving yards per game (99.9) and scrimmage yards per touch (15.9) that season.
Unsurprisingly, Boston ended up with a Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro selection that season. Though the Cardinals teams he played on weren’t all that successful, he remains an important figure for the franchise because of how he stood out in years that were otherwise forgettable for the team. Though his post-NFL career has found him in regular controversy, there’s no taking away the excellence of his ’01 season.
WR3 – Roy Green
Roy Green was one of the best receivers in the NFL in the mid-1980s. He was a first-team All-Pro selection in back-to-back seasons in 1983 and 1984. In ’83, he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 14. In ’84, he led the league in receiving yards with 1,555. The favorite target of Neil Lomax is one of the defining pillars of the latter St. Louis Cardinals era. He capped off the shortened 1982 season with a 100-yard game in a Wild Card playoff game loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Green was inducted in the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor in 2016. Since his retirement, he’s been focused on helping other formal NFL players with issues of sleep apnea in order to promote their overall health and wellbeing. He’s reported to have helped get over 150 former players successfully treated for sleep apnea. John Madden once said he regarded him as the best player in the league.
WR2 – Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin was one of the best of the best in the prime of his career. In 2003, he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award as a member of the Cardinals. In his seven years with the team, five of them resulted in at least 1,000 yards. He led the NFL in 2005 with 100.1 receiving yards per game. In the NFC Championship season of 2008, he finished fourth in the Comeback Player of the Year voting.
Boldin’s success in the ’08 regular season is one of the things that put the Cardinals in a position of gaining a playoff berth. It was the only season of his tenure with the franchise in which he ended the season with double digit receiving touchdowns, believe it or not. Also surprising is that he was only a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Always consistent and slightly underrated, he easily earns a place among the All-Time Cardinals roster.
WR1 – Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald is obviously the number one receiver in the history of the Cardinals franchise. Indeed, he’s among the greatest receivers to ever play in the history of the NFL. His entire 17-year career was played with the team, and many have made the case that he’s the single greatest Cardinal in history. He had nine seasons in which he went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark and had double digit receiving touchdowns in four seasons.
Fitzgerald is also renowned as one of the greatest postseason performers in the history of the NFL. His 2008 postseason is one of the best postseason runs by a wide receiver of all time and would’ve ended in a Super Bowl win for the Cardinals had it not been for last-second heroics by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Again in 2015, he had an unbelievable stretch of play at the end of the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers that ended in an overtime win for the Cardinals.
Bobby Joe Conrad