The Best Free Agent Signings of the Past Decade
When the free agency period starts in the NFL, it’s every bit as exciting as the action on the football field itself. Once these players have completed the three or four years required, they’re up for grabs and can sign for a new team, possibly paving the way for a bigger payday and marking a turning point in their career. Such signings can even transform a team’s season..
Free agents should be of particular interest to fantasy football players. Keeping an eye on free agent signings and how these new additions impact the respective teams is a productive way to spend your fantasy offseason and an easy way to gain an advantage in your DraftKings fantasy football leagues. This article contains a list of the best free agent signings of the past 10 years.
Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)
Peyton Manning was already looking like a hot prospect despite missing the 2011 season because of a neck injury. He was considered a future Hall of Famer and had taken the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl title and two appearances in the prestigious championship between 1998 and 2010 before he became a free agent after the 2011 season. Despite his injury, four different teams made a play for him: the Tennessee Titans, the Miami Dolphins, the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos won the chase and signed Manning to a five-year, $96 million contract. He wasted no time in returning to his pre-injury form and led the Broncos to a 13–3 conference record. The following season, in which they scored a massive 606 points, they again finished with 13 wins and also as the top seed in the AFC. The quarterback took the team all the way to two Super Bowls, one of which they lost against the Seattle Seahawks and the other they won against the Carolina Panthers.
Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles)
Foles had been a third-round draft pick by the Eagles in 2012 and really flourished; however, a series of injuries and some uneven play in 2014 saw him become part of a trade to the Los Angeles Rams. He was benched in 2015 and became a backup with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016 before becoming a free agent again in 2017. With no starting quarterback jobs on the market, he returned to the Eagles for $11 million on a two-year deal to back up the second-year quarterback Carson Wentz.
With Foles spending most of 2017 as a spectator, it looked as if the Eagles had thrown away their money. But when Wentz suffered an injury, Foles stepped in and the team marched to victory in week 14. The playoffs came and Foles shone, he took the team to their first NFL title in 57 years with a Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions at the time.
Kelechi Osemele (Oakland Raiders)
It’s hard to believe that the Oakland Raiders have parted with offensive guard Kelechi Osemele. Before joining them, he’d been part of a Super Bowl-winning team with the Baltimore Ravens, who dished out defeat to the San Francisco 49ers at the game. When Osemele joined the club in 2016, they did everything to keep him, which included payment of $11.7 million per year, a sum that made him the highest paid playerin the league at his position. He signed for five years in a $60 million deal and served them handsomely, allowing zero sacks the whole of the 2016 season. Young, effective, and able to protect the team’s biggest asset — Derek Carr — Osemele changed the game for the Raiders. The guard, who turns 30 on 24 June, will move to the New York Jets, where he replaces John Carpenter. The Jets are hoping he can work the same magic on their offensive line.
DeMarcus Ware (Denver Broncos)
DeMarcus Ware is considered one of the main reasonsthat the Denver Broncos won their most recent Super Bowl. The linebacker, who came to the Broncos in 2014 for three seasons in the twilight of his career, provided the team with the rush pass help they needed. They were desperate for it following a paperwork mix-up that saw linebacker Elvis Dumervil become a free agent.
It’s not often that players who are so close to the end of their careers get to experience once more the glories they achieved with their original teams, but DeMarcus Ware had the privilege when he played in the winning Broncos Super Bowl team against the Carolina Panthers in 2016. The same year, he announced his decision to retire and in 2017, he signed a one-day contract with the Dallas Cowboys, his original team, so he could retire there as a player. Although he’s been serving the Broncos as a rush-pass consultant in his retirement, there’s been talk of working again with his old team, the Cowboys, as a consultant.
There’s never a dull moment in the NFL, and the last 10 years have seen some remarkable free agent signings, with players moving to new teams and revitalizing their game. For the players themselves, they’re a stepping stone to greater things or, as witnessed in the case of Marcus Ware, they can be a chance to experience the taste of glory one last time on the field before bowing out. Whatever their motives may be, the moves will create excitement for fans and fantasy sports players like. Of that you can be sure.
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