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Antonio Brown at 30: What’s next for NFL’s most prolific receiver

Anything feels possible with Antonio Brown, who’s coming off a five-year stretch that reset the game’s standard for open-field playmaking.
In 2017, he set an NFL record with a fifth straight 100-catch season — and made a compelling MVP case with 1,533 yards — despite a Week 15 calf injury that ended his regular season.
NFL rank Receptions 733 First Receving yards 9,910 First Yards after catch 3,488 Third Receiving TDs 59 Sixth Targets 1,094 *Second Routes run 3,849 Fifth 100-yard games 37 **T-second * Larry Fitzgerald (1,171); ** Julio Jones 39, Calvin Johnson 37 A few more Brown achievements through his first eight seasons: He became the seventh player in NFL history to record at least 600 receptions and 9,000 receiving yards before his age-30 season.
Brown, who has 582 receptions since the start of 2013, also surpassed Harrison (563 from 1999 to 2003) for the most catches by a player over any five-year span in NFL history.
He led the NFL in receiving yards six times in his career, and three of those came after his 30th birthday, including an 1,848-yard season in 1995 during which he turned 33.
Rice posted three of his four career 100-catch seasons after 30, leading the NFL with 108 in 1996 at age 34.
The slippage in production for running backs once they hit 30 is well-documented, but that trend is common among many great receivers as well.
Here are a few notables: Can he catch Jerry Rice?
He rarely sits still for long, bouncing to various gyms and football fields around the country each offseason.
Brown Rice Games 115 114 Receptions 733 549 Receiving yards 9,910 9,349 Receiving TDs 59 95 From a numbers standpoint, catching Rice and his NFL-record 1,549 receptions and 22,895 yards will be a big challenge for Brown, who has averaged 1,239 receiving yards and 91.6 catches per season so far in his career.

Anything feels possible with Antonio Brown, who’s coming off a five-year stretch that reset the game’s standard for open-field playmaking. In his 20s, Brown used his breathtaking footwork to create separation in the discussion of the game’s best modern wide receiver. He’s made the 100-catch season more a ho-hum expectation than an achievement. On July 10, he turns 30, a number often stigmatized in an increasingly youth-centric game. But if Brown avoids injury, dips into Larry Fitzgerald‘s longevity tub and really wants to chase all of Jerry Rice’s stats, maybe he’s just getting started.

What he’s done by 30

Flips into the end zone. Helmet catches. Enough insanely difficult sideline plays to earn the nickname “Tony Toe-Tap.” The diverse arsenal of playmaking helped Brown become the best sixth-round pick, save Tom Brady. Consistency drives Brown’s greatness. In 2017, he set an NFL record with a fifth straight 100-catch season — and made a compelling MVP case with 1,533 yards — despite a Week 15 calf injury that ended his regular season. No other player holds two of the top 10 performances in NFL history for single-season receiving yards. His hands rarely disappoint. Steelers quarterbacks have thrown Brown’s way 512 times since 2015, against every type of coverage, and Brown has seven drops during that span. He lines up all over the field. He can beat man. He can beat zone. And he loves making contested catches. “Grab that,” says Brown when asked about his mentality when the ball is in the air.

NFL rank
Receptions 733 First
Receving yards 9,910 First
Yards after catch 3,488 Third
Receiving TDs 59 Sixth
Targets 1,094 *Second
Routes run 3,849 Fifth
100-yard games 37 **T-second
* Larry Fitzgerald (1,171); ** Julio Jones 39, Calvin Johnson 37

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