L.A. Chargers’ Josh Palmer joins NFL’s Canadian-born single-season receiving leaders

Photo: AP/Ashley Landis

Los Angeles Chargers’ receiver Josh Palmer capped off a strong season on Sunday that has put him among the best Canadian-born targets in NFL history.

The native of Brampton, Ont. caught 72 passes for 769 yards and three touchdowns over 16 games this season, making 11 starts. He finished second on his team in receptions and receiving yards behind Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams, respectively, as well as second in targets, fourth in yards per target (min. 20 targets), fourth in yards per reception (min. 20 receptions), and tied for fifth in touchdown catches.

Palmer was a third-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft out of the University of Tennessee where he made 99 catches for 1,514 yards and seven touchdowns over four seasons with the Volunteers. He dressed for 17 games as a rookie with the Chargers in 2021 and made 33 receptions for 353 yards and four touchdowns.

The Chargers (10-7) finished second in the AFC West this season and will visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) on Saturday, Jan. 14 in the first round of the NFL postseason. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. EST.

Chase Claypool was the most recent Canadian-born receiver to make a strong impact in the NFL after being a second-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was named the team’s Rookie of the Year after tying the club’s all-time rookie record with 62 receptions on the season.

The native of Abbotsford, B.C. saw his production decline in 2022 following a trade to the Chicago Bears in November. Chicago finished the season with a 3-14 record and by far the worst passing offence in the NFL, averaging only 130.5 yards per game through the air.

The best Canadian receiving season in NFL history still belongs to Nate Burleson, who made 68 receptions for 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns with the Minnesota Vikings in 2004. This remains the only 1,000-yard receiving season by a Canadian player in NFL history. The Calgary native is now a popular NFL analyst for CBS.

The following is a pair of lists depicting the best single-season performances by Canadian receivers in NFL history compiled by 3DownNation.

Top six NFL seasons by a Canadian — receptions

1. Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions (2011)— 73

2. Josh Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers (2022) — 72

3. Nate Burleson, Minnesota Vikings (2004) — 68

4. Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks (2009) — 63

5. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers (2020) — 62

6. Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts (2009) — 60

Top six NFL seasons by a Canadian — receiving yards

1. Nate Burleson, Minnesota Vikings (2004) — 1,006

2. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers (2020) — 873

3. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers (2021) — 860

4. Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks (2009) — 812

5. Tommy Kane, Seattle Seahawks (1990) — 776

6. Josh Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers (2022) — 769

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.