There is nothing more exciting in the game of football than watching a skilled player score a touchdown. Whether by a tricky running play or a beautiful reception, the entire sport revolves around getting the ball into that coveted 10 by 53 1/3 yard space at either end of the field. In today’s NFL, there are many players who have made a career out of penetrating the opposition’s end zone, but precious few who have done a better job of it than the following ten players.
This top 10 list will comprise the top receiving and rushing touchdown leaders who are actively playing in the NFL for the 2013-14 season. These guys have been and are still the driving forces behind their respective teams’ offence. Besides perhaps only their teams’ quarterbacks (in some cases, not all) these are the players who put up the big points and provide the forward momentum necessary to win football games in the NFL.
10. Willis McGahee – Cleveland Browns – RB – 70 TDs
Willis McGahee has been around the league for a long time, playing for the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos and currently the Cleveland Browns. McGahee is a former first-round pick in 2003 by the Buffalo Bills where he played four years and established himself as an elite runner. He was then traded to the Baltimore Ravens who gave him a huge $40.12 million contract over seven years. McGahee made the Pro Bowl in his first year in the league, but injuries and the emergence of Ray Rice demoted him to back-up status. He was finally released in 2011, but signed with the Broncos where he beat out Knowshon Moreno and won the starting job. He was effective in that role until he blew his knee in 2012 and was released the next summer. McGahee was signed by Cleveland after they traded away Trent Richardson and has only amassed 377 yards and 2 more TDs to his career tally. The 32-year-old runningback is making $940,000 this year and will be a free agent again next year.
T8. Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons – RB – 71 TDs
The long-term bulldozer of the St. Louis Rams was a first-round pick in 2004 and had a long, productive time with the Rams. Steven Jackson began as a back-up to the legendary Marshall Faulk, but after one season, he pushed the older running back to the side and claimed the starting role. In 2008, he signed a huge $49.3 million contract over six years and continued his impressive form. Despite Jackson’s ability, which led to three Pro Bowl appearances, the Rams never really had a strong year and he’s still never featured in the postseason. In 2010, he became the franchise leader in rushing yards, though he was eventually allowed to void his contract in 2012 to pursue a championship before it was too late. Jackson signed with the Atlanta Falcons, who were a Super Bowl favorite, but failed miserably this year and quickly fell out of playoff contention. He signed a three-year contract that pays him an average salary of $4 million per year.
T8. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – RB – 71 TDs
The third-round pick in the 2005 NFL Entry Draft by the San Francisco 49ers has spent his entire career in the Bay Area. Frank Gore began his career behind Kevin Barlow, but after one season he forced his way into the starting lineup. In his first year as the starter, he set the franchise record for rushing yards in a season with 1695, making it to his first of five Pro Bowl appearances. He signed an extension in 2007, paying him $28 million over four years. He continued his elite play for those four years before signing another lucrative extension, this time worth $25.9 million over three years. He reached the Super Bowl last year with 49ers, though they couldn’t beat the Baltimore Ravens. Gore is currently the franchise leader in rushing touchdowns with 60 and continues to be the focal point of the Niners’ offense at the age of 30. He is currently making an average salary of $6,475,000 over this contract.
7. Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers – WR – 75 TDs
The diminutive WR for the Carolina Panthers has found a knack for finding the end zone despite his size. Standing at 5 foot 9, Steve Smith has routinely been a menace to opposing defenses with his tenacity. The former third-round pick of the Panthers has spent his entire career with the organization, amassing five Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl appearance. He is currently making an average salary of $9,437,500 over the duration of his four-year contract. Smith injured the PCL in his left knee last week and will hope for a quick recovery in order to be able to add to his career totals in the postseason and earn his first Super Bowl ring.
6. Reggie Wayne – Indianapolis Colts – WR – 80 TDs
Reggie Wayne was blessed early in his career being drafted by the Colts who already had Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison on their roster. He was able to learn from one of the most productive WRs of all-time, while catching balls from one of the greatest QBs of all-time. Wayne was initially drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Entry Draft. His first two seasons were average as he attempted to learn Manning’s complicated offense. He took flight in his third season (as WRs typically do) and in 2006 he was given a six-year, $39.5 million contract. He responded by earning his first Pro Bowl birth and helped the Colts win a Super Bowl. Wayne continued his Pro Bowl pace until Peyton Manning was injured for the 2011 season where his numbers dipped. Manning was released,but Wayne was once again blessed with a number one-pick QB by the name of Andrew Luck. They resigned Wayne to a three-year deal giving him $5,833,333 per year. His numbers have since gone back to their exceptional level and he earned another Pro Bowl birth. Wayne has hid 2013 season cut short, but his career has been exceptional regardless. He is a six-time Pro Bowler with one Super Bowl championship to his name.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – RB – 81 TDs
Pocket Hercules was initially a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006 where he has spent his entire career. Maurice Jones-Drew began behind franchise running back Fred Taylor, but earned split duties in his second and third years. He took off in his fourth year, earning his first Pro Bowl birth. He has kept up his Pro Bowl pace throughout his career, but due to the lack of talent around him he has only appeared in two playoff games. Jones-Drew is currently coming to the end of a $31.1 million contract and has stated that he will go to the highest bidder in free agency, which we completely endorse at TheRichest.com.
4. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – TE – 86 TDs
The former college basketball star was an undrafted rookie in 2003 who turned into a powerhouse receiving TE for the San Diego Chargers. Antonio Gates was the first star basketball player turned TE, who had little experience playing football. His success started a trend of teams picking up talented basketball players who would be physical enough to go out and claim a jump ball. Gates’ first season saw him grow on the job and elevate himself to a starter by November. He exploded in his second season, earning Pro Bowl honours and becoming Drew Brees‘ favourite target. He earned himself a $24 million contract over six years and continued his incredible play after Brees left and Philip Rivers became the new QB. Gates earned seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and was rewarded with a $39.8 million contract that sees him earn $6,633,333 per year. The once unmarkable receiving threat has had numerous foot injuries that have slowed him down some, but remains a valuable player in the Chargers offense.
3. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals – WR – 87 TDs
The tall WR was initially the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Entry Draft to the Arizona Cardinals where he has spent his entire NFL career. After a slow first year, Larry Fitzgerald led the NFL in receptions in his second year and took off as an elite WR in the NFL. He and Anquan Boldin formed one of the most dangerous WR duos in the league and led the Cardinals to a Super Bowl appearance in 2008. They lost to the Steelers desptie Fitzgerald catching 2 TD passes in the game. When Kurt Warner left the team in 2010, the team has had a revolving door at quarterback limiting their ability to compete, but Fitzgerald’s numbers have remained elite. He has been named to seven Pro Bowls and was rewarded with a massive $113 million contract that sees him earn $16,142,857 per year.
2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – RB – 91 TDs
The running back affectionately known as “Purple Jesus”, was drafted seventh overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2007 NFL Entry Draft. Every team that picked before Minnesota must be kicking themselves as they have missed out on one of the most electric running backs of all time. In his rookie year, Adrian Peterson broke the record for yards in a single games with 296, won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and was the Pro Bowl MVP. He lead the league in rushing the next year and became an elite player in the NFL. His only blip came in 2011 where he was injuried and failed to record 1000 yards for the first time in his career. He came back strong in 2012, having the best season of his career and earning both the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and MVP Awards, which are seldom won by running backs. Peterson is currently in the middle of a $96 million contract which earns him $13,714,286 yearly.
1. Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons – TE – 111 TDs
The most accomplished TE in the history of the league began his career with the Kansas City Chiefs as a first round pick in 1997. Tony Gonzalez earned his first Pro Bowl birth in 1999 and was the best TE in the game until the emergence of Antonio Gates caused some doubt. Regardless of that, Gonzalez owns practically every single record for TEs in the NFL including most TDs and receiving yards. After 13 years with the Chiefs, he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons as they tried to give him a chance to win a title before retiring. Gonzalez has remained a useful weapon for Matt Ryan even though he is not as dominant as he used to be. He is a 13-time Pro Bowler and a member of the 2000s All-Decade team. He is currently on a two-year contract worth $7 million a year, but has been playing with ideas of retirement and will likely to do so, changing the allure of this list next year.
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