Calvin Johnson knows his receiving yardage record will eventually fall

As the talent level at wide receiver rises, and the regular season expands, Lions Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson knows his yardage record will fall at some point.

In 2012, while of course a member of the Detroit Lions, Calvin Johnson set the NFL single-season record for receiving yards (1,964). In 2021, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp came close (1,947 yards) to topping it, and at points during the 2022 season two guys (Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson) were on pace to top Johnson before falling short. Both fell well short, Hill with 1,799 yards and Jefferson with 1,809.

If Jefferson hadn't missed seven games last season, he might have made another run at Johnson's record.

The addition of the 17th regular season game a few years ago of course invites an asterisk to any single-season record that is set when the previous record came in a 16-game schedule. But it's not any different than records that were set when the NFL had a 14-game regular season schedule and were broken with a 16-game schedule.

The single-season NFL receiving yardage record had been a pretty durable. Jerry Rice's previous record, 1,848yards in 1995, stood for 17 years before Johnson topped it. Rice still sits fourth on that list for receiving yards in a season, but the rules to foster offense and the passing game have brought a boom in recent years. Of 13 1,700-yard seasons in league history, five have come since 2021.

Calvin Johnson knows his receiving yardage record is destined to fall

Speaking to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required) on Monday at an NFL alumni golf event, Johnson talked about his receiving yardage record and the easy expectation it wil be topped sometime soon.

"I mean, it's bound to fall at some point the way it's going, so it is what it is," Johnson said. "I held it down, I don't know even know how long, over a decade now."
"They want more offense, man, so at some point (it's going to happen)," Johnson said. "You got to be healthy. You got to play really a full 17 now. … That's the key. You got to be healthy. If you can play 17, guys have put up numbers, you're going to put up numbers. That 17, you get that extra game to put another 150 or 200 (yards)."

Health of course will be critical for anyone who makes a run at Johnson's record. Having 17 games to get it done helps. The ultimate goal for the league seemingly is 18 regular season games, at which point Johnson's receiving yardage record will surely fall-if he hasn't been topped by then.


Ranking potential external options for Detroit Lions to replace Josh Reynolds. Ranking potential external options for Detroit Lions to replace Josh Reynolds. dark. Next