Since winning free agency at the bargaining table in 1993, hundreds upon hundreds of players have changed teams for millions upon millions of dollars.
Hall-of-Famers Reggie White, Deion Sanders, Kevin Greene, Curtis Martin and Rod Woodson were among those free agents who found more money and better situations elsewhere. So last week, coinciding with the opening of the free-agency window in 2017, we asked listeners and readers in our Talk of Fame Network poll to identify the best free-agent signing ever.
It became a two-player race with quarterback Drew Brees topping Reggie White with 45 percent of the vote. White received support from 39 percent of the voters. Peyton Manning was a very distant third with six percent, with Charles Woodson, Sanders, Priest Holmes, Martin and Adam Vinatieri rounding out the list of also-rans.
The three hosts of the Talk of Fame Network split their votes with Rick Gosselin voting Brees and Ron Borges and Clark Judge both casting their ballots for White.
“It’s Reggie White and nobody – as in nobody else,” Borges said.
Added Judge: “Not only was Reggie White one of the game’s greatest players, he was a social pioneer as well, making Green Bay an attractive destination for other African-American players to follow. In essence, he was a game changer.”
Gosselin voted Brees because of his historical standing at the quarterback position. There have been nine individual 5,000-yard passing season in NFL history, and Brees has five of them. No one else has more than one.
“Quarterback is the most important position on the field,” Gosselin said, “and Brees has been setting records with his arm ever since he signed with the Saints.”
The Saints won their only Super Bowl in franchise history with Brees, and the Packers won a Super Bowl with White. White ranks second on the all-time sack list with 198 and went to six Pro Bowls with the Packers. Brees ranks third on the all-time passing list with his 66,111 passing yards and 465 touchdowns. He went to nine Pro Bowls with the Saints.