An element of an offensive passing play in which a particular offensive player is designated as the first person the quarterback is going to attempt to pass the ball to. A primary receiver usually has a designed route that is intended to get the player open quickly, eliminating the need for a quarterback to go through his progression or avoid a pass rush. Most plays with a primary receiver will be designed for a team's most effective offensive player, giving the quarterback a quick opportunity to get the ball in that player's hands.
While almost every offensive play will have a number of different options for the quarterback, most are designed with a primary receiver in mind. This is the best option for the quarterback, and will be the first place that he will look to after the snap. Primary receivers are designed to be open early in the play, allowing the quarterback an opportunity to deliver the ball to him before having to avoid a pass rush. If the primary receiver is covered, the quarterback will have to go through his progression and look to the other receivers out in the play.