Randy Moss Trade: Ranking Top Quarterback-Wideout Duos of All Time
After this morning’s shocking trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings, many questions swarmed my mind. Has Favre ever thrown to a receiver as good as Moss? How will the Patriots be affected? How will Tom Brady do without his big play receiver?
After all, Moss may have had the single greatest season a wideout has ever had. During the 2007-2008 season, Randy Moss broke the single season touchdown mark with 23 while totaling 98 receptions and 1,493 yards.
So where do Brady and Moss rank amongst the greatest QB-wideout tandems in NFL history? What about Favre and Moss? Read on to unveil the rankings.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss
Brett Favre to Randy Moss
Johnny Unitas to Raymond Berry
Jeff Garcia to Terrell Owens
10. John Elway to Shannon Sharpe (1990-1998)
Despite technically being a tight end, the Elway to Sharpe connection is one of the greatest receiving duos in NFL history, and well deserving of a spot on this list.
Between 1990 and 1998, Sharpe caught 529 passes for 6,759 yards and 44 touchdowns. While Elway is unquestionably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Sharpe may not get the love he deserves.
Sharpe’s speed and pass catching ability was previously unseen, and helped revolutionize the position for players like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. In their final two seasons together, Elway and Sharpe helped the Broncos win back-to-back Super Bowls.
While Elway has been enshrined in the hall of fame since 2004, Sharpe has been twice denied. Here’s hoping the voters come to their senses.
9. Warren Moon to Cris Carter (1994-1996)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Although they played only three seasons together, the Warren Moon and Cris Carter tandem accomplished amazing feats together.
By averaging 113 receptions, 1,263 yards and 11 touchdowns per season, this dynamic duo indelibly made their mark on NFL history. In a time where cornerbacks were still allowed to bump, these two were twice able to total 122 completions.
As an eight-time Pro-Bowler Carter was always an elite player, but it wasn’t until he teamed with Warren Moon that he put up his best seasons.
8. Joe Theismann to Art Monk (1980-1985)
Before Joe Theismann’s career was brought to a sudden and tragic halt by a Lawrence Taylor sack, he was arguably the league’s best quarterback. Together with fellow hall of famer Art Monk, the Washington Redskins flourished.
Over six seasons, this pair tallied 393 receptions, 5482 yards and 24 touchdowns. Monk came into the league in 1980 as a rookie, and the two immediately gelled, as Theismann completed 58 passes for 797 yards in their first season.
Their best season? That would be 1984 when Monk and Theismann hooked up for 106 catches, 1,372 yards and seven touchdowns. At the time, his 106 catches were the most all-time, landing Monk the league’s MVP trophy.
7. Jim Kelly to Andre Reed (1986-1996)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
While the Bills of the 1990s are typically remembered for what they failed to do, it is important that we acknowledge everything they did accomplish. Like the four Super Bowl appearances. Or better yet, the chemistry between Jim Kelly and Andre Reed.
Over 11 seasons, the Kelly to Reed combo completed a staggering 877 passes for 10,884 yards and 75 scores! They may not be the best dyad, but they may just be the most underrated.
6. Troy Aikman to Michael Irvin (1989-1999)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
There’s a reason the Michael Irvin was nicknamed “the playmaker,” even if it was a self-pronounced title.
Between 1989 and 1999, Irvin consistently delivered the big play and put up huge stats in the process. With Emmitt Smith keeping defenses honest and Troy Aikman delivering the rock, Irvin hauled in 718 passes for 11,250 yards and 60 touchdowns.
During these years, the Cowboys earned their title as America’s team by winning three Super Bowls and producing multiple hall of fame players. Few were as deserving as Aikman and Irvin.
5. Tom Brady to Randy Moss (2007-2010)
Brady to Moss, the unstoppable toss. How we’ll miss you.
In 2007, the Patriots traded a fourth round draft pick for former All-Pro receiver Randy Moss. How does Moss react? By taking a pay cut and recording a career year.
After putting up massive seasons with Daunte Culpepper in Minnesota, Moss’ production had cooled in Oakland where there was constant quarterback controversy. Given a legitimate quarterback in Tom Brady and the two tore up the record books.
Ninety-eight catches. 1493 yards. 23 touchdowns. The Patriots may have failed to become the first 19-0 team in NFL history, but at least they set individual records.
The next season, Brady went down in game one and was replaced by Matt Cassel. The following season? Right back to business. Brady and Moss connected for another 89 catches, 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns. Not bad considering they had to visit Revis Island twice.
4. Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison (1998-2009)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
During the 2002-2003 season, Manning to Harrison was an unstoppable combination. That year Manning completed 392 passes—143 of them to Harrison.
In fact, the former Syracuse Orangeman still holds the record for single season receptions, and is fourth all time in single season receiving yards with 1,722. Even more impressive is that in over a decade together the two hooked up on 965 completions for a whopping 12,878 yards and 114 touchdowns.
Odds are if you watch a random SportsCenter highlight from the nineties, you will see a Manning to Harrison touchdown pass. Two players. Two future hall of famers. It doesn’t get much better than that.
3. Dan Marino to Mark Clayton (1983-1993)
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
At 5’9" 177 pounds, Mark Clayton wasn’t exactly an intimidating receiver. But his on-field production? Opposing cornerbacks were certainly scared of that.
Clayton played his entire 11-year career with the legendary Dan Marino throwing him the ball, and put up phenomenal numbers. With 582 receptions, 8,974 yards and 84 touchdowns, Clayton earned each and every one of his five Pro Bowl appearances.
At age 23, Clayton set an NFL record of 18 touchdown receptions, breaking Don Huston’s 42-year-old record. Although they never won a Super Bowl, they did have the record for most touchdown connections when Clayton retired in 1993.
By combining Dan Marino’s rocket arm and Clayton’s amazing route running ability, this duo cemented their place amongst the greatest couples to ever play the game.
2. Steve Young to Jerry Rice (1991-1998)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
A first round pick out of Mississippi Valley State in 1985, many wondered how Rice would fair in the NFL. After all, he was big but not huge and did not have elite speed. However, by combining some of the softest hands ever with unbelievably precise routes, Rice was able to shatter every receiving record in the book.
That said, it should come as no surprise to see the Young and Rice duo high on the list. Over eight seasons, Young completed 571 passes to Rice, gaining 9,746 yards while tacking on a remarkable 85 touchdowns.
The highlight? A 1995 season where Rice caught 122 balls for a awe-inspiring 1,848 yards just a year after winning the Super Bowl.
1. Joe Montana to Jerry Rice (1985-1990)
George Rose/Getty Images
Is it overkill to have Jerry Rice on here twice? Absolutely not. The greatest player to ever run a post route, Rice and Montana helped define the way we view modern passing attacks. Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense centered on short, quick passes that didn’t require a running game to set up.
Utilizing this philosophy, Montana and Rice put up staggering statistics. In six seasons, the two connected to 446 passes for 7,886 yards and 79 touchdowns.
During this time, Rice led all receivers in yards three times, touchdowns four times, and receptions once. In 1987, Rice’s 22 touchdowns broke Mark Clayton’s single season touchdown mark, only three seasons after Clayton had established the record.
The tandem helped the 49ers win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1988 and 1989, and earned a well-deserved spot in Canton.