2000 Yards Receiving - Can An NFL star Hit A Benchmark Already Achieved In The CFL?

By Chris Lawton

This year, for a while, it looked like an NFL receiver might break the 2,000 yards receiving mark. The player most likely to hit that mark looked like being Tyreek Hill. After all, at one point this season he had 1,542 yards receiving through 13 games. Meaning he was making over 118 yards a game and needed 114.5 yards per game the rest of the way to hit the target. But it wasn’t to be. He finished with a league leading 1799 yards instead.

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In fact the closest anyone has come to a 2,000 yard receiving season in the NFL is back in 2012 when Calvin Johnson had 1,964 yards. Now that the NFL has gone to a 17-game season it fees like a lot of volume records like this will get broken sooner or later. Over the years the NFL has gone from a 12-game schedule (up to 1960), 14-game schedule (up to 1977), a 16-game schedule (up to 2020), and now has a 17-game schedule. All of which can mean that volume does not really match up across the eras. You may even argue we should be looking instead at yards per catch, or yards per game to compare across the ages. But that is an argument for another time.

Now that the NFL has the 17-game slate I am sure we will see barriers like the 2,000 yards receiving tally broken soon. After all, in the CFL, with its 18-game schedule it has already happened.

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at those 2,000 yard receiving seasons to see how it could be done in the NFL.

1998: Derrell Mitchell

160 Catches, 2,000 Yards, 10 TD’s

In 1998 Derrell ‘Mookie’ Mitchell had an incredible year. This was his best year in the CFL. A season where he caught a CFL record 160 passes. As well as most receptions in a single season, Mitchell also tied the record for most receptions in a game with 16.

This was only his second year in the CFL, and he had made a blistering start to his career. In 1997 Mitchell had 77 catches and 1,457 yards receiving with 17 TD’s earning the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie award.

He would never come close to another 2,000-yard receiving season. But from 2000-2003 he had 308 receptions for 4,543 yards and 39 TD’s making a mark in the league. Mitchell was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

A footnote of interest for UK fans is that Mitchell suited up for the Scottish Claymores in their debut season. The Claymores were 2-8 in what was still the WLAF in 1995 and Mitchell had just 11 catches for 145 yards and one touchdown.

1983: Terry Greer

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113 Catches, 2,003 Yards, 8 TD’s

Greer played only six seasons in the CFL, but he certainly made his mark. The 1983 season where he had 2,003 yards receiving broke a long-standing league record. Not to mention being the CFL’s first 2000 yard receiving season coming in a 16-game schedule. If he could do it in 16 games, then surely in the modern, pass heavy NFL it will happen in 17 games soon enough.

From 1982 to 1985 Greer led the CFL with 404 receptions for 6,817 yards, an average of 16.8 yards per catch and 47 touchdown catches. This coming off the back of 4 consecutive 1,000 yards receiving seasons.

Greer went on to play in the NFL. From that time, he has two Super Bowl rings to add to his Grey Cup ring. Terry Greer was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

1994: Allen Pitts

126 Catches, 2,036 Yards, 21 TD’s

Allen Pitts had his best season in 1994, recording his one 2,000 yards receiving season. His catches, yards and TDs for this season were all career highs. But only one of four seasons that he made 100+ receptions. At the time the receptions and TD totals were league records.

Pitts retired as the all-time receiving leader in yards with 14,487 yards. This has since been surpassed but we cannot overlook Pitts’ consistency. Through 176 regular season games, Pitts averaged 15.4 yards per reception. Arguably, Allen Pitts never had a bad year. In his 11 season CFL career, Pitts had over 1,000 yards receiving 9 times, missing twice only because of injuries.

Some of the league records may have been surpassed, but the highest volume 2000 yard receiving season is not one of them. As well as this Pitts still holds various Stampeder team records, is on the Stampeder Wall of Fame and had his number 18 jersey retired.

Allen Pitts was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

I think we can see from all three examples that consistency, freedom from injury, the right scheme, and luck can play into making this kind of high-volume record. But, I do feel this is eminently doable by an NFL receiver. As to who that receiver will be, well time will tell, but it will be fun finding out.

Feature Image Credit: Calgary Stampeders



Chris originally started following the NFL with the ‘first wave’ of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980’s. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL 2017. Chris has a degree in history, postgraduate degree in librarianship and can be found on twitter as @CFLfanUK