With so many players and so much happening on a season-to-season basis, it’s very easy to lose track of how current players’ places stack up in respect to the all-time greats.
Though there is still plenty of time to forget about them again before the season starts, here are seven veteran players likely to reach career milestones in 2017.
Category: Rushing Yards
Milestones: 14,000 yards, Top Five All Time
Entering his 13th NFL season, Gore has amassed 13,065 rushing yards and currently sits as the seventh all-time leading rusher.
Gore is still expected to be the Indianapolis Colts’ main running back in 2017 after producing his ninth career 1,000-yard campaign in 2016. If he can total at least 620 yards this season, he will overtake Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis, and LaDainian Tomlinson to become the NFL’s fifth all-time rusher with fourth-place Curtis Martin’s 14,101 yards still in his sights.
Category: Passing TDs
Milestones: 300 TDs, Top 10 All Time
Despite spending his first three seasons on the bench, Rodgers will almost certainly surpass John Elway and move into the top 10 touchdown throwers in 2017.
The 33-year-old is three scores away from tying Elway’s total of 300 – all of which could come in his first game of the season. Rodgers could move further into the top 10, but he’ll have to overtake active passers Ben Roethlisberger (301), Philip Rivers (314), and Eli Manning (320) to do so.
Assuming he doesn’t throw 28 interceptions before he tosses three scores, Rodgers will become the first quarterback to reach the 300-touchdown mark without at least 100 picks. In fact, the other 10 passers who have hit the mark averaged 171 interceptions by the time they had recorded 300 touchdowns.
Category: All-Purpose Yards
Milestones: 20,000 yards, Top Five All Time
Sproles has admitted that 2017 will probably be his final season, but his combination of rushing, receiving, and returning skills will mark his place in the record book before he goes.
Having put up at least 1,100 all-purpose yards in every campaign so far and setting the single-season record in 2011, Sproles can move past Steve Smith, Marshall Faulk, and Tim Brown into fifth all time with just 672 yards. He needs 989 all-purpose yards to break the 20,000-yard barrier.
Category: Passing Yards
Milestones: 50,000 yards, Top Six All Time
Whine and complain about Manning’s lack of elite skills all you want, but the New York Giants quarterback has more than just Super Bowl rings to back up his claim to the Hall of Fame.
Manning needs 3,257 yards to move past Warren Moon and Elway from eighth to sixth in historical passing yards, though he will still be around 10,000 shy of Dan Marino’s fifth-place mark.
Milestones: 1,100 Receptions, Top Four All Time
He may never surpass Tony Gonzalez’s all-time tight-end records, but Witten has steadily crept up the receptions list as he enters his 15th season with 1,089 career catches. With just 14 catches in 2017, the 35-year-old will have the fourth-highest reception total in history.
Milestones: 150 sacks, Top Four All Time
It’s no secret that Pepper is good at getting sacks and that he already has the Panthers’ franchise record. He can become the fifth player ever to reach 150 career sacks with six and a half more, and will overtake Chris Doleman in the top four list with seven and a half.
Categories: Points Scored, Field Goals Made
Milestones: Top Two All Time (Both)
At age 44 with 21 seasons in the book, the NFL’s most famous clutch kicker is still a ways away from surpassing Morten Andersen’s record-setting career – but second-best is within his reach.
Vinatieri is 56 points and eight field goals from matching Gary Anderson’s second-place totals. The Colts kicker has scored at least 107 points and made 25 field goals in each of last five seasons.
(Photos Courtesy: Action Images)
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