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10 leading receivers in AFC North history

Since the current AFC North was formed in 2002, what players have the most receiving yards?

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

In 2002 when the NFL added their 32nd team of the Houston Texans, the current divisional lineups were set with each conference having four divisions of four teams. For the AFC North, the grouping of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns was born. In the 21 seasons of the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won the division nine times with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals each winning six times.

But since the formation of the AFC North, which player has had the most receiving yards?

Earlier I posed the question about the 10 quarterbacks with the most wins in the AFC North as well as the players with the most rushing yards.

Just to clarify, these statistics are from regular season games with a player on one of the AFC North teams against any opponent. Players who were on multiple AFC North teams had their combined yardages.

Here are the 10 players in order:

1. Antonio Brown, PIT (9 seasons): 11,207
2. Chad Johnson, CIN (9 seasons): 10,454
3. Hines Ward, PIT (10 seasons): 9,524
4. A.J. Green, CIN (10 seasons): 9,430
5. Heath Miller, PIT (11 seasons): 6,569
6. Mike Wallace, PIT/BAL (6 seasons): 5,807
7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, CIN/BAL (8 seasons): 5,952
8. Derek Mason, BAL (6 seasons): 5,777
9. Tyler Boyd, CIN (7 seasons): 5,333
10. Todd Heap, BAL (9 seasons): 5,286

Steelers fans likely identify Antonio Brown as being the best receiver in the history of the AFC North. Although Hines Ward had more receiving yards than Brown with the Steelers, his first four seasons came in the AFC Central, one of which was a Pro Bowl season and over 1,000 yards receiving in 2001. But just with his number since the start of the AFC North was enough to put Hines Ward in the third position.

Chad Johnson with another player whose career started before the formation of the AFC North, but he only missed it by one season and his 329 yards in 2021 would not have been enough to put them ahead of Brown.

The top five of this list is dominated by players from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. Heath Miller is the top tight end on the list coming in at the fifth spot and also who is the player with the most seasons played who landed in the top 10.

The first spot out of the top five belongs to the only player on the list who played for more than one AFC North team. Mike Wallace played a combined six seasons with four in Pittsburgh and two in Baltimore and finished with 5,807 yards. Had Wallace not played for Baltimore, his yardage with the Steelers would have had him outside of the top 10.

Despite playing his first eight seasons in Tennessee, Derek Mason and his six seasons in Baltimore gave him their first solo spot on the list in the eighth position. Baltimore also added a tight end in the last spot on the list in Todd Heap. It should also be noted that Cincinnati’s Tyler Boyd in ninth place is the only player in the top 10 who is currently on an AFC North team. Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens is just off the list in 11th place with 4,313 yards.

As much as the Steelers and Bengals dominated the top of this list, perhaps the most notable thing about this top 10 list is there are no members of the Cleveland Browns. The biggest reason for this is how many receivers on the Browns did not play a lot of seasons in Cleveland. The player on top of the Browns list was Braylon Edwards with 3,697 receiving yards but only played five seasons in Cleveland.

So how many players on this list would you have been able to name? Are there any surprises or someone you possibly would not have remembered? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.