The NFL's best WR? No surprise -- it's Antonio Brown
The New York Giants gave wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a five-year, $95-million contract this week. If that’s the going rate for wideouts, what must Antonio Brown be worth?
We asked our listeners and readers in our Talk of Fame Network poll last week to vote on the best wide receiver in the NFL. Brown won going away with 43.9 percent of the vote, followed by DeAndre Hopkins at 15.2 percent and Larry Fitzgerald at 12.1 percent. Beckham was tied with Julio Jones at 9.1 percent.
The three Talk of Fame Network hosts, as usual, disagreed. Rick Gosselin voted Brown, Ron Borges voted Jones and Clark Judge chose Fitzgerald.
“It’s hard to beat Antonio Brown,” Borges said, “but I’m still a Julio Jones man. Then again that Odell Beckham contract makes you think...but not for long. It’s me and Julio down by the schoolyard.”
It’s hard to believe Brown arrived in the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick of the Steelers. He became a starter in his third season and an NFL receiving champion in his fifth season. Brown has now strung together five consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,200 yards. He has led the league in receptions twice (129 in 2014 and 136 in 2015), receiving yards twice (1,698 in 2014 and 1,533 in 2017) and touchdowns once (13 in 2014). He has gone to six Pro Bowls.
“If you like productivity,” Gosselin said, “you have to like Antonio Brown.”
Judge liked Fitzgerald as a legacy pick.
“Fitzgerald is a great combination of longevity and productivity,” Judge said. “Plus, he not only had at least 107 catches in each of his last three seasons with underwhelming quarterbacks; he's the only guy on this list I'm certain is going to Canton.
The third overall pick of the 2004 NFL draft, Fitzgerald has been voted to 11 Pro Bowls in his 14 seasons. He ranks third all-time in receptions (1,234) and yards (15,545) and eighth in touchdowns (110). Fitzgerald, 34, holds the NFL record of nine seasons of 90 or more receptions and is coming off a 109-catch, 1,156-yard year – the fourth 100-catch season of his career.
Hopkins has gone to the Pro Bowl in two of the last three seasons, which is a remarkable feat given the lack of stability at the quarterback position in Houston. He has caught passes from seven different starting quarterbacks during that three-year window. He led the NFL with 1,521 receiving yards in 2015 and with 13 touchdowns in 2013. With the quarterbacking stabilized now with DeShaun Watson, Hopkins could be in store for his best season.