Oakland Raiders: 15 best wide receivers of all-time

Some legendary names have donned the Silver and Black, especially at wide receiver. Let's take a look at who makes the top-15.

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(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The NFL has few franchises as storied as the Raiders. Whether in Oakland, Los Angeles, or soon to be Las Vegas, the Raiders are one of the most decorated teams the sport has seen. One of the team's motto's "Commitment to Excellence" is displayed by the accomplishments of the franchise in their 58-year AFL/NFL history.

Three Super Bowl victories, one AFL Championship, four conference championships and 15 division championships (across both AFL and NFL) are the pedigree of a storied franchise.

Not to mention the 12 total Raiders players who are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as primary Raiders, making their biggest mark on the game in the Silver and Black. That doesn't even include the great Al Davis, John Madden and others. Overall, there are 25 total Raiders in Canton.

A handful of those Hall of Famers were wide receivers, whether they played primarily for the Raiders or only made brief cameos. After all, this is a list of the Raiders best, not simply the best to ever play for the Raiders.

For the purposes of this list, a combination of attributes will be considered for each player. Things like length of time with the team, statistics compiled, and fan opinion have the most impact. Let's start it off with a couple of honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions: Dave Casper and Todd Christensen (both technically tight ends), Dokie Williams, Mike Siani, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Randy Moss

15

Andre Holmes

Wide Receiver | (2013-16)
Andre Holmes Logo

Andre Holmes sneaks his way on to this list for a handful of reasons. I know, I know, how can I put Holmes here and leave Moss out? Well, quite frankly, his story is a lot more enjoyable. Moss only spent two seasons with the team, while Holmes spent four years with the Raiders.

Holmes began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Vikings, but was released and landed with the Cowboys. He spent two years in Dallas before finding his way to Oakland where he would finally prove that he belongs in the NFL. In 2013, his first season with the team, Holmes appeared in 10 games and caught his first touchdown in the NFL.

Over the next three seasons, Holmes was a mainstay on offense and special teams. He provided a lot of value as the third receiver on the roster, proving to be a reliable red zone target. Holmes recorded back-to-back seasons with four touchdowns in 2014 and 2015, and finished 2016 with three.

After the disappointing playoff loss in 2016, where he scored a touchdown, Holmes signed with the Buffalo Bills moving on to the next stage in his career. Although he is not the most decorated or eye-catching receiver the Raiders have had, Holmes was one of the best story-lines to follow.

He earns this spot for being a pivotal piece for the team as they began to climb back into relevance for the first time since their Super Bowl defeat in 2003.

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(Photo by Allen Kee/Getty Images)

14

Ronald Curry

Wide Receiver | (2002-08)
Ronald Curry Logo

If you followed the Raiders during the really dark years (2002-2014) this name should ring a bell. After a disappointing defeat in Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders retreated into a horrendous time for the franchise.

From that point on, the team went on an unprecedented run of 13 seasons without a winning record. To be frank, it has to be difficult to be that bad. Well, unless you draft JaMarcus Russell...

Regardless, one of the lone bright spots over those years was Ronald Curry. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft out of North Carolina, Curry wasn't truly expected to amount to much.

Considering the revolving door of coaches and quarterbacks during Curry's tenure as a Raider, it is shocking he did anything. Perhaps a testament to his quality and tenacity, Curry was one of the only consistent players in Oakland in the 2000s.

The stats aren't jaw-dropping, rather mediocre at best. He posted back-to-back 700-yard seasons in 2006 and 2007, with Andrew Walter and Daunte Culpepper throwing him the ball. I'll call that a victory.

He finished his career with 2,347 yards, good enough for 21st in Raiders history. However, Curry is a perfect example of the axiom "Once a Raider, Always a Raider". Curry's seven season career began and ended in Oakland, just as it should have.

Curry also provided value as a return man, excelling at that role during his career. Although not the most talented or longest tenured receiver in Raiders history, Curry made a horrific team easier to watch and support. And for that, he deserves some credit.

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13

Willie Gault

Wide Receiver | (1988-93)
Willie Gault Logo

The Raiders' all-time receiving record book is filled with many legends, some of which played tight end and running back. As a result, some team legends who compiled great stats as receivers are bumped down the list, slightly altering how they are viewed by the generations who didn't see them play.

Such is the case with Willie Gault, who unfortunately is rather hidden in Raiders history due to several factors. First of all, his 14th place on the all-time receiving list for the Raiders isn't flattering.

If you remove non-wide receivers from the list, Gault would jump into the top-10 and land at eighth. That jump may not seem like much, but the casual fan looking through the books would care a lot more if he was in the top-10.

In addition, Gault by no fault of his own, played alongside another legendary Raiders receiver in Mervyn Fernandez. Due to Fernandez being the true star, Gault missed out on some of the lime light and his name is lesser known among Raiders fans.

As mentioned, Gault holds 14th place on the all-time receiving yards list with 2,985 yards. In his six seasons with the team, Gault also added 17 touchdowns. His most productive years may have been with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, but Gault by no means disappointed in his Raiders stint.

Actually, his career best 1990 season helped the team to a 12-4 record and a division title. One of the fastest and electric receivers of all time, Gault is more than deserving of a place on this list.

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12

James Lofton

Wide Receiver | (1987-88)
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There are not many other wide receivers in the league's history with a résumé as decorated as James Lofton's. It took a lot of consideration to decide where Lofton ranks among the Raiders lore. The biggest deficit is his lack of time spent with the Raiders.

Lofton spent an absurd 16 seasons in the NFL, but only sported the legendary Silver and Black in two of them. Not that those two years were bad by any stretch, his time in was simply short-lived.

Lofton, perhaps attracted by the prospect of playing in Los Angeles, joined the Raiders in 1987. However, only three short seasons after winning the Super Bowl, the Raiders were in the midst of a relatively bad stretch.

Beginning in 1986, the team did not finish with a record better than 8-8 until 1990. Unfortunately for Lofton, he joined a team on a downward slope.

Lofton, relative to his standards, had a solid 1987 season but a lackluster 1988 season. Following 1988, Lofton would head to Buffalo to join the Bills franchise, ending his time with the Raiders. Despite his lack of performance with the team, Lofton is simply too legendary to leave of a list such as this.

Lofton appeared in eight Pro Bowls, half of the seasons he was in the league. He became the first receiver to reach the mark of 14,000 total receiving yards, and resides in 12th place on the list of all-time receiving yards.

An unquestioned Hall of Famer, it would be a crime to leave the great Lofton without a mention. Had his stint with the Raiders not have been so short, he would undeniably be much higher.

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11

Michael Crabtree

Wide Receiver | (2015-17)
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When a team is at a low point (like the Raiders for the better part of the last two decades) they rely on a new coach or some new players to shift the culture. In the Raiders recent culture shift, a few big names have been critical. Jack Del Rio, Derek Carr, Khalil Mack are obvious...but don't forget about Michael Crabtree.

The Raiders of old had a sense of swagger about them, "Pride and Poise" as Al Davis would say. That swagger or aura of confidence was absent for many years, but when Crab came to the dark side of the Bay in 2015, some of that swagger came back instantly. On a one-year prove it deal at first, Crabtree proved to be one of the Raiders best free agent acquisitions in recent memory.

Aside from the confidence Crab exudes, he provided a lot to a young team in need of guidance. A lot of Amari Cooper's success and growth can be attributed to the tutelage he received from Crabtree.

He also provided Carr with another target on the field, and a friend off of it. The friendship between the two has been well documented. Although it was strained in the tumultuous 2017 season which led to Crabtree's departure, the two have reportedly fixed things.

In only three seasons, the former San Francisco 49er recorded 2,543 yards, an average of 847 per season. His first two seasons were great, reaching 922 and 1,003 yards, respectively.

More importantly than yards, Crab provided a huge boost on third downs and in the red zone, evidenced by his 25 touchdowns. Now a Baltimore Raven, Crabtree will be missed. But his role in aiding the Raiders "Return to Excellence" will forever be remembered.

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10

Mervyn Fernandez

Wide Receiver | (1987-92)
Mervyn Fernandez Logo

Spending an entire career with one organization is a rare feat in football, especially in today's NFL. Mervyn Fernandez is one of the few players on this list that played for the Raiders, and only the Raiders.

However, it isn't merely the length of his tenure that earns him this rank. It is what he accomplished during his six seasons as a Raider that sets him apart from many others.

Drafted out of San José State University, Fernandez began his career in the Canadian Football League. The Raiders, in Los Angeles then, noticed his success in Canada and brought him to the team. The rest is, well, history. Los Angeles' gamble paid off and Fernandez became one of the Raiders' biggest weapons on offense from 1987 to 1992.

Fernandez ranks ninth all-time with 3,764 yards, and 16th all-time with 209 receptions. He also holds the record for yards per reception with 18.01 (minimum 200 receptions).

Add in his 19 career touchdowns and his stats add up to be one of the best in team history. Unfortunately, Fernandez only played in three playoff games in his career. He did manage to record 93 yards and one touchdown over those three games.

Fernandez checks all three boxes. He spent multiple years with the team, and never played anywhere else. Statistically, he ranks very high in the Raiders record books.

And due to his performances, he was easily a fan favorite. Fernandez is an easy selection for a top-10 place on this list, but comes up just short of some other franchise legends.

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(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images).

9

Jerry Porter

Wide Receiver | (2000-07)
Jerry Porter Logo

Controversial? Maybe. Talented? Undeniably. Honestly, there may not be a better way to describe Porter during his time with the Raiders. Drafted in 2000 out of West Virginia University, Porter was selected to support, and eventually replace Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. How things played out were most definitely not what the team anticipated.

Without question, Jerry Porter was a talented wide receiver. In eight seasons with the Raiders, Porter tallied nearly 4,000 yards, coming up just short with 3,939. That mark ranks eighth all-time for the Raiders, but that is a bit distorted because a running back (Marcus Allen) and a tight end (Todd Christensen) rank higher. Porter also hauled in 30 touchdowns in 105 games, roughly 29 percent of his games.

Learning under to Hall of Famers in Rice and Brown paid dividends for Porter. It took him a while to usurp them, but boy was it worth the wait. In 2004 when Porter became the true No. 1 target he was drafted to be, he didn't disappoint.

During the 2004 NFL season, he recorded a career best 998 yards and nine touchdowns. He also gave fans this memorable game, perhaps you remember it?

Porter's stats are impressive, but there are some blemishes on his time with the Silver and Black. Most notably his spat with head coach Art Shell that essentially cost him his entire 2006 season, whether it was being benched or officially suspended.

The incident was not a good look for Porter, but he rebounded in 2007 with 705 yards under Lane Kiffin. Unfortunately, everyone remembers how the Kiffin experiment turned out. Regardless of the blemish, Porter is a Raiders legend and proved that during his eight-year stint in Oakland.

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8

Warren Wells

Wide Receiver | (1967-70)
Warren Wells Logo

Warren Wells only played professionally for five seasons, albeit in the AFL and not in the NFL. Wells began his career with the Detroit Lions in 1964, but spent two years away from the team serving his country with the United States Army. Interestingly, he was one of only two professional football players enlisted by the draft during the Vietnam War.

In his return to the gridiron, Wells joined the Silver and Black for the 1967 AFL season. Despite an underwhelming return, the team remained committed to Wells and their investment was paid in full over the next three seasons.

And that may be putting it lightly, Wells was terrific for the Raiders and made them one of the most dangerous teams in the league.

In 1968, Wells accumulated 1,137 yards and 11 touchdowns. He then followed that campaign with 1,260 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1969, earning All-Pro honors in both.

What may be even more absurd is his yards per reception being above 20 in each season with the Raiders. To be exact, his numbers finished at 23.2, 21.5, 26.8, and 21.7 from 1967-1970, respectively.

Wells was one of the most dangerous wideouts in the AFL and helped the Raiders win their first AFL title in 1967. Unfortunately, Wells career was derailed by legal troubles culminating in his arrest.

What he could have produced in a full career would surely have been a spectacle, and most likely, enough to earn himself a plaque in Canton. Sadly, we will never know. Despite the legal issues, Wells is deserving of a place on this list for how incredible of a player he was.

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Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr. /Allsport

7

James Jett

Wide Receiver | (1993-02)
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On name alone, James Jett deserves to be No. 1 on this ranking. I mean come on, playing wide receiver and having the last name Jett is too good to be true. In fact, true to his name, Jett won the NFL's fastest man competition in 1996, running a 60-yard sprint in 6.10 seconds.

Some other legendary Raiders including Dokie Williams and Willie Gault competed in previous years, but Jett is the only Raider to have won the contest.

Speed may have been the name of the game for Jett, but he turned out to be a pretty good wide receiver. A lot of times, especially with Al Davis drafting players, the Raiders took athletic, typically speedy, players and molded them to their desires. Such was the case with Jett, who signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 1993.

In his rookie season, Jett led the team and league as a whole, with an absurd 23.4 yards per reception. He finished 1993 with 771 yards and looked to be a huge steal, but the sophomore slump hit in 1994 and carried into 1995.

However, Jett got back on track in 1996 with 601 yards and put together several more productive seasons before Father Time caught up to him in 2001.

Jett played 10 seasons in the NFL, all of which with the Raiders, both in Los Angeles and Oakland. He finished with 4,417 yards to his name, ranking him sixth all-time in Raider's history, not too shabby for an undrafted free agent.

Jett's success and longevity in the Silver and Black is impressive, add in the name, and Jett is undoubtedly one of the more renowned receivers in franchise history.

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6

Amari Cooper

Wide Receiver | (2015-present)
Amari Cooper Logo

Before angrily typing a reaction to Amari Cooper being so high on this list, take a second and actually read why. I know, he is still young and perhaps undeserving of a place so high on a list full of team legends.

However, Cooper is more deserving of this ranking than you may think. In three short seasons as a Raider, Cooper has been better than many people realize.

Recency bias unfortunately taints fans' perspective of Cooper due to his rough 2017 campaign. However, looking at his three seasons as a whole, Cooper is on pace to have a legendary career.

First, Cooper is already 15th all-time in receiving yards for the Raiders with 2,903. Assuming he comes close to a 1,000-yard season in 2018 (which he should), Cooper will soar into the top-10 and challenge Jerry Porter for eighth.

He will also surpass multiple Raiders legends in receptions. Cooper currently sits at 203 which is 18th all-time. With a resurgent year, he could easily slide into the top-10 in receptions as well.

Although, his touchdown numbers aren't as good with only 18. Yet still, within the next two seasons, and keeping the same pace, he will be top-10 in that category as well. Not bad to be top-10 in the three major categories for receivers in only four/five seasons.

That's simply in Raiders lore. If you expand and look at other NFL legends through their first three seasons, Cooper is in esteemed company. He has more receptions in his first three seasons than guys like Jerry Rice, Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson.

And just for good measure, this all came under Bill Musgrave and Todd Downing running the offense. With Gruden on the sidelines, Cooper's chances for success are much higher.

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5

Jerry Rice

Wide Receiver | (2001-04)
Jerry Rice Logo

The top-five, aside from first place, was incredibly difficult to rank. So many legends, not just of the Raiders, but of the sport of football. Ultimately, the deciding factor between them came down to how much of their legacy came as a Raider.

As such, Jerry Rice comes in at fifth place. Rice is undoubtedly the greatest wide receiver (and possibly football player) of all-time, but he built his legacy across the bay in San Francisco.

Over the course of an illustrious 20-year career, Rice only spent three and a half seasons in Oakland. Rice left the 49ers after the 2000 season to join the Raiders led by none other than current coach Jon Gruden.

His arrival gave the Raiders the legendary receiving tandem of Tim Brown and Rice that almost brought the franchise its fourth Super Bowl championship.

Rice obviously has the most receiving yards of all-time with 22,895 and was a first ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer in 2010. However, Rice is only 18th in Raider's history with 3,286.

Yards aren't the only factor in play, but nearly 3,300 yards in a little over three seasons is incredible, especially for a player at the tail-end of his career. He posted back-to-back 1,100 plus seasons in 2001 and 2002 before falling off in 2003 and 2004 before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks.

In addition to his productive regular seasons, Rice also performed well in the postseason for the Raiders recording 434 yards in five playoff games. Without question, Rice's three years in Oakland were incredible and he was instrumental in the Raiders getting to Super Bowl XXXVII.

However, Rice lacks the longevity as a Raider that the rest of the legends on this list do. As a result, the greatest of all-time finishes fifth.

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4

Art Powell

Wide Receiver | (1963-66)
Art Powell Logo

Before merging with the NFL in 1970, the Oakland Raiders played in the AFL. A number of players on this list played for the Raiders during their AFL days including Warren Wells, Art Powell, and Fred Biletnikoff who will appear later. Unlike the others, Powell spent his entire career in the AFL, and was one of the best ever.

Powell played four of his 10 seasons for the Raiders, accumulating a ridiculous 4,491 yards in that span. That mark is good enough for fifth all time in Raiders history, and would be fourth if tight ends are excluded (Todd Christensen is fourth).

In AFL history, Powell ranks third all-time with 8,015 career receiving yards. In 1963 while with the Raiders, Powell recorded 247 yards in a game against the Houston Oilers, which ranks second all-time in AFL history.

As for Raiders franchise records, Powell holds first place for most touchdowns in a season with 16, accomplished in 1963 (also led the AFL that season). His mark of 50 touchdowns ranks fourth all-time, and he did it in only four years. Powell's electric speed and height (6-foot-3) allowed him to be a threat at any time, not simply in the red zone.

Powell's 1,361 yards in 1964 is the second highest single season mark in Raider's franchise history, only behind Tim Brown's mark of 1,408 in 1997. Powell did a ridiculous amount of damage in only four seasons with the team.

His place in the team record books will surely stay for a long time coming. Powell, although in the AFL and not in the NFL, is easily one of the Raiders' most talented wide receivers of all-time.

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3

Cliff Branch

Wide Receiver | (1972-85)
Cliff Branch Logo

Here's where things become really tough as there isn't much to differentiate between the top-three. Cliff Branch is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best receivers in NFL history and it is a crime that he has yet to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, that window may have closed, but Branch will forever live on in Raiders history.

Branch torched defenses for 14 seasons, all of which with the Raiders. From 1972-1985, Branch proudly wore the Silver and Black and accomplished more than most ever did.

The speedy Branch is the only Raider wide receiver to play in all three Super Bowl victories. Again, please tell me why that alone isn't enough to give him a spot on the wall in Canton.

His 8,685 career receiving yards is third all-time, only behind the two guys ahead of him on this list. In addition, Branch's 67 touchdowns rank third for the Raiders. I guess it really is fitting that he finishes third on this list as well.

Branch actually led the NFL in touchdowns twice, 1974 and 1976, leading the league in receiving as well in 1974. The four-season stretch between 1974 and 1977 was the best of his career, earning four Pro Bowl nominations and three First Team All-Pro honors in that stretch.

Three Super Bowls, three All-Pro selections, third all-time in yards and touchdowns; Branch fits in perfectly in third place on this list. Even better, Branch is third all-time in postseason receiving yards, you really cannot make this up.

Branch exemplified what it was like to be a Raider. A perennial winner and a great human, on and off the field, Branch truly is a Raider legend.

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2

Fred Biletnikoff

Wide Receiver | (1965-78)
Fred Biletnikoff Logo

Fred Biletnikoff ahead of Branch was a tough decision as there are arguments for both as to who was better. Regardless, Biletnikoff comes in at a much deserving second place finish on the ranking of the best Raider's wide receivers of all-time.

In his decorated 14-season career with the Raiders, he set many records that would hold until the great Tim Brown arrived in Oakland.

From 1965-1978, Biletnikoff was a crucial cog in the high-flying Raiders offense that terrorized the league. His stats really speak for themselves, so I will let them do just that.

Biletnikoff is second all-time in team history with 8,974 yards. He is also second all-time in touchdowns with 76. Guess what, Biletnikoff is also second with 589 receptions, go figure. He only trails Brown in all three of those categories.

With regards to the comparison to Branch, the only category that Biletnikoff doesn't beat him in is postseason yards. Biltetnikoff is seventh all-time with 1,167 postseason receiving yards, trailing guys like Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, and of course, Branch. Shining in the postseason seemed easy for Coyote (as he was affectionately called by his teammates, who was named Super Bowl XI MVP.

Biletnikoff's name is well-known in the world of football, perhaps more so in the collegiate atmosphere. The award given to the best college receiver is actually named the Biletnikoff Award, mostly due to his incredible career at Florida State.

A first-ballot inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988, Biletnikoff is one of the most legendary players, let alone receivers, to play for the Raiders.

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1

Tim Brown

Wide Receiver | (1988-03)
Tim Brown Logo

Finally, the easiest selection on this list, the legendary Tim Brown. Not only is Brown the franchise's greatest wide receiver of all-time, he is in the conversation for best overall Raider of all-time.

Brown is actually the reason I am writing this piece as he helped me fall in love with the Raiders as a young child back in 2001 (I was four by the way). However, I don't think I am the only Raiders fan to have loved watching No. 81 tear up opposing defenses.

The franchise record holder for yards, receptions, touchdowns, and all-purpose yards, Brown is undoubtedly the best receiver in team history. He also is the franchise leader in punt returns and yards, more evidence of his value to the team.

His 14,734 receiving yards are nearly 6,000 more than Biletnikoff in second, and his 1,070 receptions are almost 500 more than Biletnikoff's 589. Brown's dominance on team receiving records makes him an easy choice for the top spot.

His numbers are one thing, but the span of his success with the Raiders is what really sets him apart. Brown played for the Raiders for 16 seasons before finishing his career in Tampa Bay. Of those 16 seasons, Brown led the team in receiving in 10 of them, consecutively.

Beginning in 1993, Brown surpassed 1,000 yards in every season until 2002 when he shared receptions with Jerry Rice. That is absurd and unprecedented, and it is fair to say it may never be seen again for the Raiders.

Brown's accolades are simply incredible. First wide receiver to receive the Heisman Trophy, nine Pro Bowls, two First Team All-Pro selections and one Second Team selection, and a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2015; that's quite the résumé. Only fitting that he takes the top spot on the list of the Raider's best receivers of all-time.