Larry Fitzgerald is synonymous with the Arizona Cardinals. He played here for 17 seasons and became one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history during that time. Where exactly does he rank among the all-time greats?
Got to Catch the Ball
The number one job of the wide receiver is to catch the football. They can run the most majestic route and fake out entire defenses. It doesn’t mean anything if the ball is not secured when thrown in their direction.
No one in the history of the game was better at catching the ball than Fitzgerald. He has one of the most mind-boggling stats of all-time. The long time Cardinal has more career tackles, 39, than dropped passes, 29. Fitzgerald averaged less than two drops per season.
To put that in perspective. One of the greatest wide-receivers of all-time, Terrell Owens, once had 17 dropped passes in a season. Fitzgerald’s consistency throughout his career is simply amazing. Not only did Fitzgerald rarely drop passes but he also caught a high volume of receptions year in and year out.
Number 11 is second all-time in NFL history with 1,432 receptions only trailing behind Jerry Rice who finished his career with 1,549 catches. Fitzgerald averaged more catches per season, 84.23, than Rice, 77.45. This is a stat that definitely puts Fitzgerald in very elite company.
The Yards Don’t Gain Themselves
Larry Fitzgerald is second all-time in receiving yards with 17,492 yards. Only behind, yep, you guessed it, Jerry Rice with 22, 895 yards. This is another stat that shows the incredible consistency of Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald finished his career with more receiving yards than Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Marvin Harrison among other great wide receivers.
The former Pittsburgh Panther averaged over 1,000 yards per season in the NFL. He wasn’t a guy who barely scrapped over 1,000 yards at his best though. He had four separate seasons over 1,400 yards.
Someone Has To Throw The Ball
Jerry Rice was absolutely amazing but he did have more help throughout his career than Fitzgerald did. Rice caught passes from hall of famers, Joe Montana and Steve Young, pro-bowler Jeff Garcia and then Most Valuable Player, Rich Gannon. Rice would of been amazing no matter who threw him the ball but he had an embarrassment of good to great quarterbacks during his career.
Fitzgerald did not have that. He started off with Josh McCown and Shawn King. After that Kurt Warner joined the team but was not the number one option at quarterback. The Cardinals were looking towards the future as Fitzgerald caught passes from Matt Leinart. Leinart is a college football legend but wasn’t quite that in the NFL, to put it nicely.
Once Kurt Warner took over full time in 2008, the Cardinals had a great year and made it to the Superbowl. Fitzgerald had 96 catches for 1,431 yards that season. Fitzgerald was able to play with Warner for one more season then it was back to the quarterback wasteland.
The Cardinals legend caught passes from the likes of Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, and Drew Stanton until Carson Palmer came along. In 2015, with Palmer as the full time starter, Arizona made it to the NFC championship game. Fitzgerald finished that season with 109 receptions for 1,215 yards. After that season Fitzgerald would play with more subpar quarterbacks until he was passed his prime with a young Kyler Murray.
Is He The G.O.A.T. ?
Jerry Rice is universally recognized as the greatest wide receiver of all-time. It is hard to argue against that with the individual stats and team success that Rice accumulated during his career. Fitzgerald has a good case to be made for him as the G.O.A.T. wide receiver. He is second all-time in receptions with over 300 catches more than the next wide receiver on the list, Marvin Harrison. Fitzgerald is second all-time in receiving yards with over 1,500 yards more than the next guy on the list, Terrell Owens. Fitzgerald is also sixth all-time in receiving touchdowns with 121.
Fitzgerald was able to become top ten all-time in all of the major wide receiver categories without consistent quarterback play throughout his career. It is truly amazing what Fitzgerald was able to accomplish with what he was working with for most of his career. When this is brought into the conversation his case as the greatest wide receiver of all-time has really strong legs to stand on.
Is Larry Fitzgerald the greatest wide receiver of all-time?