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Top 10 NFL Free Agent Signings of All Time

July 15, 2023 9


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NFL Free Agency is a period during the offseason when players whose contracts have expired can sign with any team. This period typically begins in mid-March, with the start of the new league year. There are different types of free agents, and the rules that govern their ability to sign with new teams can be complex. Here are some key terms to understand:

Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs): These are players who have completed four or more accrued seasons and whose contracts have expired. They are free to sign with any team with no draft pick compensation owed to their old team.

Restricted Free Agents (RFAs): These are players who have completed three accrued seasons and received a qualifying offer (a contract) from their current team. Other teams can offer contracts to RFAs, but the original team has the right to match the terms of that offer or receive draft pick compensation.

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFAs): These are players who have completed fewer than three accrued seasons and received a qualifying offer from their current team. They cannot negotiate with other teams.

Franchise Tag: Each team has the option to place a franchise tag on one player each year. The tagged player receives a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position, or 120% of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. The player can negotiate with other teams, but if he signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has the right to match the terms or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Transition Tag: Similar to the franchise tag, but the contract amount is based on the average of the top 10 salaries at the player’s position. The original team has the right to match any offer the player receives from another team, but there is no draft pick compensation if they choose not to match.

Free agency is a critical part of team building in the NFL, as it allows teams to fill gaps in their roster and add talent. However, it can also be risky, as players often demand high salaries and there is no guarantee they will perform as expected in a new system or team environment. Here are the Top 10 NFL Free Agent Signings of All Time.

1. Reggie White to the Green Bay Packers (1993): White was one of the first big free agent signings in NFL history. He helped the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI and was a dominant force on defense.

2. Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos (2012): After a neck injury ended his tenure with the Colts, Manning signed with the Broncos and led them to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one.

3. Drew Brees to the New Orleans Saints (2006): After a shoulder injury in San Diego, Brees signed with the Saints and led them to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

4. Deion Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers (1994): Sanders signed a one-year deal with the 49ers and helped them win Super Bowl XXIX. He then signed with the Dallas Cowboys the following year and won another Super Bowl.

5 Kurt Warner to the Arizona Cardinals (2005): After stints with the Rams and Giants, Warner signed with the Cardinals and led them to their first Super Bowl appearance.

6. Charles Woodson to the Green Bay Packers (2006): Woodson revitalized his career in Green Bay, winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and helping the Packers win Super Bowl XLV.

7. Rod Woodson to the Baltimore Ravens (1998): Woodson helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV and was a key part of their dominant defense.

8. Priest Holmes to the Kansas City Chiefs (2001): After serving as a backup in Baltimore, Holmes became a star in Kansas City, leading the NFL in rushing in 2001.

9. Michael Turner to the Atlanta Falcons (2008): Turner had a breakout season after signing with the Falcons, leading the NFC in rushing yards.

10. Rich Gannon to the Oakland Raiders (1999): Gannon had his best years with the Raiders, leading them to a Super Bowl appearance and winning the NFL MVP award in 2002.

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