As Le’Veon Bell chases a history-making contract in 2019, Antonio Brown is on the precipice of making NFL history on the field. Before the 2018 season is over, he has the opportunity to take over the lead position as the most prolific wide receiver in the game from a production standpoint.
He enters Sunday’s game with 9910 receiving yards, meaning that he can reach 10,000 receiving yards for his career by going for 90 or more against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Playing in his 116th career game, he would tie Torrey Holt for the second-fastest to that mark in NFL history, missing the top spot by just one game. Calvin Johnson reached 10,000 receiving yards in his 115th game.
Perhaps Brown would have as well had things not gone awry. He caught two passes for 23 yards in the Steelers’ 14th game of the 2017 regular season before suffering a significant ankle injury that sidelined him not just for the rest of the game, but for the remainder of the regular season. The injury occurred early in the second quarter, and he was averaging over 150 receiving yards over his previous four games.
Back in Week Five of last season, Brown hit the 9000-yard mark for his career. At that time, he became the fourth-fastest to reach that point, behind Johnson, Holt, and Lance Alworth (at the top), doing so in his 107th game. He tied Randy Moss for that spot. So the fact that he can reach 10,000 yards second-fastest means that he is only gaining ground.
He has already overtaken the pace for receptions, most recently becoming the fastest player in NFL history to record 700 receptions. That accomplishment came last season against the Tennessee Titans in the 111th game of his career. That was three games quicker than Marvin Harrison. He already owned the lead pace by 600 receptions as well.
So let’s talk about what’s next. Holt was able to hit 11,000 yards in his 131st game, but Johnson broke that record in 2015, hitting that plateau in his 127th game. If Brown can record 1090 yards over the first 10 weeks of the 2018 regular season, he will own the lead pace for receiving yardage outright as well. But he would have to average 109 yards per game, which is a tall task. He has managed to do that in two of the past three years.
Brown is 67 receptions away from reaching 800 for his career, which would probably also come right around the 10th or 11th game of the season—perhaps even sooner. He has averaged between 7.1 and 8.5 receptions per game over the last five years.
When he does hit 10,000 receiving yards, he will become the 46th player in NFL history to do so. Hitting 800 receptions—further off—would put him in company with only 33 other players. There are 34 players who have gained at least 11,000 receiving yards.