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Published: June 27, 2017 at 12:30 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2018 at 03:37 p.m.

Gil Brandt's 14 greatest NFL tight ends of all time

NFL Media senior analyst and personnel guru Gil Brandt ranks the greatest tight ends in NFL history. Take a look at how they stack up.

14 Photos Total

  • St. Louis Cardinlas, 1963-1977; Dallas Cowboys, 1978<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 480 receptions for 7,918 yards (most ever by tight end at time of retirement) and 40 touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Played in 210 NFL games<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame 14

    Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

    14. Jackie Smith

    St. Louis Cardinlas, 1963-1977; Dallas Cowboys, 1978
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro four times
    » Finished career with 480 receptions for 7,918 yards (most ever by tight end at time of retirement) and 40 touchdowns
    » Played in 210 NFL games
    » Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Chicago Bears, 2007-2010; Carolina Panthers, 2011-present<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl three times<br>
&raquo; Has 662 career receptions for 7,365 yards and 52 touchdowns in 10 NFL seasons<br>
&raquo; Only tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons 13

    Ryan Kang/Associated Press

    13. Greg Olsen

    Chicago Bears, 2007-2010; Carolina Panthers, 2011-present
    » Voted to Pro Bowl three times
    » Has 662 career receptions for 7,365 yards and 52 touchdowns in 10 NFL seasons
    » Only tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons

  • New England Patriots, 1975-1980, 1987-1988; San Francisco 49ers, 1982-1987<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to three Pro Bowls<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 393 receptions for 5,262 yards and 40 touchdowns 12

    Tom Croke/Associated Press

    12. Russ Francis

    New England Patriots, 1975-1980, 1987-1988; San Francisco 49ers, 1982-1987
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to three Pro Bowls
    » Finished career with 393 receptions for 5,262 yards and 40 touchdowns

  • Denver Broncos, 1990-1999, 2002-2003; Baltimore Ravens, 2000-2001<br>
&raquo; Three-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl eight times, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; NFL 1990s All-Decade Team<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 815 receptions for 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 11

    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    11. Shannon Sharpe

    Denver Broncos, 1990-1999, 2002-2003; Baltimore Ravens, 2000-2001
    » Three-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to Pro Bowl eight times, First Team All-Pro three times
    » NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
    » Finished career with 815 receptions for 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Cleveland Browns, 1978-1990<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl three times, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; NFL 1980s All-Decade Team<br>
&raquo; Finshed career with 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame 10

    Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

    10. Ozzie Newsome

    Cleveland Browns, 1978-1990
    » Voted to Pro Bowl three times, First Team All-Pro once
    » NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
    » Finshed career with 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns
    » Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Detroit Lions, 1968-1977<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl seven times, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; NFL 1970s All-Decade Team<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 336 receptions for 4,817 yards and 31 touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame 9

    NFL/Associated Press

    9. Charlie Sanders

    Detroit Lions, 1968-1977
    » Voted to Pro Bowl seven times, First Team All-Pro twice
    » NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
    » Finished career with 336 receptions for 4,817 yards and 31 touchdowns
    » Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • San Diego/L.A. Chargers, 2003-present<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl eight times, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; NFL 2000s All-Decade Team<br>
&raquo; Has 897 career receptions for 11,192 yards and 111 touchdowns in 14 NFL seasons 8

    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    8. Antonio Gates

    San Diego/L.A. Chargers, 2003-present
    » Voted to Pro Bowl eight times, First Team All-Pro three times
    » NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
    » Has 897 career receptions for 11,192 yards and 111 touchdowns in 14 NFL seasons

  • Chicago Bears, 1961-1966; Philadelphia Eagles, 1967-1968; Dallas Cowboys, 1969-1972<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion and one-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl five times, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; NFL 7th Anniversary All-Time Team<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 427 receptions for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 7

    Vernon Biever/Associated Press

    7. Mike Ditka

    Chicago Bears, 1961-1966; Philadelphia Eagles, 1967-1968; Dallas Cowboys, 1969-1972
    » One-time NFL champion and one-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to Pro Bowl five times, First Team All-Pro five times
    » NFL 7th Anniversary All-Time Team
    » Finished career with 427 receptions for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • New England Patriots, 2010-present<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl four times, four-time First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; Led league in touchdown receptions in 2011<br>
&raquo; Has 405 receptions for 6,095 yards and 68 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons 6

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    6. Rob Gronkowski

    New England Patriots, 2010-present
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to Pro Bowl four times, four-time First Team All-Pro
    » Led league in touchdown receptions in 2011
    » Has 405 receptions for 6,095 yards and 68 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons

  • Oakland/L.A. Raiders, 1974–1980, 1984; Houston Oilers, 1980–1983; Minnesota Vikings, 1983<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl five times, five-time First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; NFL 1970s All-Decade Team<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 378 receptions for 5,216 yards and 52 touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame 5

    NFL/Associated Press

    5. Dave Casper

    Oakland/L.A. Raiders, 1974–1980, 1984; Houston Oilers, 1980–1983; Minnesota Vikings, 1983
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to Pro Bowl five times, five-time First Team All-Pro
    » NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
    » Finished career with 378 receptions for 5,216 yards and 52 touchdowns
    » Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Dallas Cowboys, 2003-2018<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl 10 times, First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Has 1,089 receptions for 11,388 yards and 63 touchdowns in 14 NFL seasons<br>
&raquo; Has four 1,000-yard seasons 4

    Albert Pena/Associated Press

    4. Jason Witten

    Dallas Cowboys, 2003-2018
    » Voted to Pro Bowl 10 times, First Team All-Pro twice
    » Has 1,089 receptions for 11,388 yards and 63 touchdowns in 14 NFL seasons
    » Has four 1,000-yard seasons

  • Baltimore Colts, 1963-1971; San Diego Chargers, 1972<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion and one-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl five times, three-time First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; NFL 1960s All-Decade Team<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 331 receptions for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns.<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 3

    Vernon Biever/Associated Press

    3. John Mackey

    Baltimore Colts, 1963-1971; San Diego Chargers, 1972
    » One-time NFL champion and one-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to Pro Bowl five times, three-time First Team All-Pro
    » NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
    » Finished career with 331 receptions for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns.
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • San Diego Chargers, 1979-1987<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, three-time First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team<br>
&raquo; Started 94 of 109 NFL games played<br>
&raquo; Finished career with 541 receptions for 6,741 yards and 45 touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2

    Arthur Anderson/Associated Press

    2. Kellen Winslow

    San Diego Chargers, 1979-1987
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, three-time First Team All-Pro
    » NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
    » Started 94 of 109 NFL games played
    » Finished career with 541 receptions for 6,741 yards and 45 touchdowns
    » Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Kansas City Chiefs, 1997-2008; Atlanta Falcons, 2009-2013<br>
&raquo; Voted to NFL-record 14 Pro Bowls, six-time First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; NFL 2000s All-Decade Team<br>
&raquo; Holds NFL records for career receiving yards (15,127), receptions (1,325) and touchdowns (111) for tight end<br>
&raquo; Started 120 NFL games, second-most for tight end 1

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    1. Tony Gonzalez

    Kansas City Chiefs, 1997-2008; Atlanta Falcons, 2009-2013
    » Voted to NFL-record 14 Pro Bowls, six-time First Team All-Pro
    » NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
    » Holds NFL records for career receiving yards (15,127), receptions (1,325) and touchdowns (111) for tight end
    » Started 120 NFL games, second-most for tight end