top 3 wide receivers

Top 3 Wide Receivers in New England Patriots History

The New England Patriots is a team known for their incredible talent, whether that be Tom Brady‘s legendary quarterback legacy or Rob Gronkowski being one of the most dominant NFL tight ends to ever play the game. The New England dynasty was a force to be reckoned with, with an all-around stacked offense and a seemingly even more powerful defense.

When it comes to the receiver position, though, that’s where the Patriots are different. A great Patriots wide receiver isn’t necessarily a common big and vertical threat making plays down the field. This is an organization that values slot receivers and outside playmakers like no other, pushing receivers to the top of the leaderboards that are unlike the rest but just as elite. 

With that being said, here are three of the best New England Patriot receivers to ever do it.

Top Three Wide Receivers in New England Patriots History

 

Julian Edelman (2009-2020)

When you think of what embodies the characteristics of a true Patriots receiver, no one did it better than Julian Edelman. No receiver has contributed to the Patriot’s success more than Edelman, and it doesn’t seem like anyone will top his legacy anytime soon. 

This is a no-brainer – this is one of the most versatile and tenacious players to ever wear a Patriots jersey. What makes it all even more impressive is that he wasn’t always a receiver, either, starting three years running the offense at the quarterback position for Kent State University before being drafted by the Pats in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft

The converted quarterback quickly became known for his speedy agility and determination to succeed. Working his way onto the New England roster through special teams, he developed a strong rapport with Brady and showed a mentality that many hadn’t seen before. His ability to make clutch plays and unbelievable catches when the team needed him most was unreal to see in his prime. 

He was responsible for some of the greatest moments in franchise history, earning three Super Bowl championships throughout his time with the Patriots. In 2015, Edelman caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks. Two years later, he saved the Patriot’s legendary 28-3 comeback attempt with a jaw-dropping catch in Super Bowl LI versus the Atlanta Falcons to go on to win one of the championship games in history. He also absolutely dominated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, adding a Super Bowl MVP to his accolades. 

When Edelman’s time in the NFL came to a close, no one but Jerry Rice had more postseason career receiving yards, and no one but Wes Welker had more receptions as a New England Patriot. He was ultimately and undoubtedly the most clutch player in Pats history, let alone the best wide receiver with the most passion for the game.

 

Randy Moss (2007-2010)

The next receiver on the list was not only a New England legend, but one of the league’s greatest deep threats of all time. Whether he spent only two full seasons in New England or not, Randy Moss left a mark on the franchise like no other receiver had. His deep threat incredible catching ability and radius gave Brady a receiver that he could run the league with. 

In fact, Moss’ first season in a Patriots uniform was already enough for him to rank among the best.

The Hall of Famer had 98 catches, 1,493 yards, and an NFL-record 23 touchdown receptions in 2007, leading to the greatest-single season quarterback-wide receiver duo the league has ever seen in Moss and Brady. Finishing with 271 catches, 4,045 yards, and 51 touchdowns across 56 regular and postseason games, the only piece missing from Moss’ New England legacy was team success. After a career year in 2007 and the Patriots going 16-0 in the regular season, New England lost the Super Bowl in a heartbreak and then missed the playoffs the following year when Brady tore his ACL in 2008. They then went on to lose in the wild-card round in 2009, leading to Moss being sent off to the Minnesota Vikings four games into the 2010 season.

Despite the team’s heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl XLII, Moss and his historic numbers will forever etch him as one of the greatest Patriot receivers to ever play.

Wes Welker (2007-2012)

After being traded to the Patriots in 2007, Wes Welker was already under-appreciated for his talent with the Miami Dolphins. After joining the team, he quickly became one of Brady’s favorite targets, exploding beside Moss with 112 catches for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns in the 2007 season. Over the next five seasons, he surpassed the 100-catch mark four more times, made five Pro Bowls, and earned two All-Pro selections. During his six-year tenure with the New England Patriots, no one in the NFL had more catches or yards than the 5-foot-9 Welker.

While Welker is certainly the most consistent receiver the Patriots have ever seen. In an era of Patriots football that saw Bill Belichick attempt to rebuild and break down his roster, Welker was the best player not named Brady.  

Wes Welker may not be the best receiver in Patriots history, but he was certainly the most consistent. He was a huge part of the team’s dominance during the late 2000s and early 2010s, regardless if he was able to bring home a Super Bowl ring or not. His tenacity and astounding route-running complimented his reliability in a way that has earned him a permanent place in the hearts of New England. 

Main Image: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

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