NFL Free agency has been a frenzy in 2022. Not only are top-level free agents switching teams, but some of the league’s most recognizable names are trading in their old jersey for a new one. While some of the signings are sure to change the team’s fortunes, it is not guaranteed that it will be for better or for worse. Some of the greatest teams of all time have been built for free agency, but in other situations, it has set a team back years.
This article will cover the two best and two worst free agent signings of all time.
Best: Reggie White to Green Bay
One of the first ever NFL free agent signings is also one of the best as well. The Green Bay Packers adding legend Reggie White was the perfect piece for the team to win a Super Bowl with. White is an NFL Hall-of-Famer who is the second all-time sack leader. Words cannot do his play justice, as he wrecked any offensive line he was across from, once recording 30 sacks in a 16 game span.
In Green Bay, the team already had a franchise quarterback in MVP Brett Favre, and with the addition of White, Green Bay was able to win a Super Bowl in the 1996 season. White broke the Super Bowl sack record, tallying three, including two in consecutive plays in the 4th quarter. White’s signing epitomized the idea of using free agency to transform a team from good to great.
Worst: Albert Haynesworth to Washington
When someone is cautioned about the dangers of spending big in free agency, they are often told the story of Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth was one of the best players in all of football in 2008, dominating the defensive interior with the Tennessee Titans.
That offseason, Washington gave him a seven year, 100 million dollar contract, the largest by any defensive player ever at the time. Haynesworth would go on to only play 20 total games with the organization.
A major reason for this lack of play was his inability to stay in shape, as Haynesworth would commonly fail physicals and conditioning tests. Haynesworth got his money and stopped trying, and by doing so, never became the player fans and Washington hoped him to be.
Best: Peyton Manning to Denver
As Russell Wilson makes his way to Denver, it takes many back to the last hall-of-famer the team was able to acquire in the offseason. After having a legendary career with the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning would go on to do more of the same in Mile High Stadium.
Manning had his best statistical season as a pro in 2013 in Denver where he broke the single season record for both passing yards and touchdowns. Two years later, Denver would win Super Bowl 50 in Peyton’s final game as a pro, a fitting way to end it all.
Worst: Deion Sanders to Washington
Why not highlight another disastrous signing in the nation’s capital? While the NFL free agent signing of Deion a decade earlier in 1994 helped secure San Francisco its fifth Super Bowl title, it would not work out the same for owner Dan Snyder.
Despite being 33 years old and entering the end of his career, Washington signed Sanders to a seven year deal worth 56 million dollars, the highest amount ever given to a cornerback in history at the time. One can already see how this did not work out.
Despite being under contract until he was 40, Sanders would only go on to play one season for the team before retiring for three seasons. This is the epitome of chasing a big name for no other reason than the name, and it defined Washington’s free agencies over the span of a decade.
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