Latest: Deciding the Best Free-Agent Signing in Each NFC Team’s History

Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White was a trailblazer in free agency, becoming one of the first star players to join a new team on a lucrative contract.

White received a four-year, $17 million contract to join the Green Bay Packers in 1993. Many top free agents will earn that in one season—or in one signing bonus—once the legal tampering period begins Monday to kick off the frenzy.

White left the Eagles for the Packers in 1993 and went on to win a Super Bowl.

John Beiver/Sports Illustrated

NFL free agency has come a long way since White left the Philadelphia Eagles. But before we find out where this year’s free agents will land, let’s take a look at each NFC team’s best external free-agent signing of all time after we revealed the AFC team’s best signings Tuesday. 

Arizona Cardinals

  • Kurt Warner, QB, 2005–09

After a rough first season in Arizona, Warner regained his top form to take the starting job from Matt Leinart, the team’s 2006 first-round pick. Warner guided the Cardinals to their lone Super Bowl appearance during a magical 2008 season; they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in one of the most entertaining Super Bowls. Warner threw for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns that season, which compares to his two MVP seasons with the St. Louis Rams.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Warrick Dunn, RB, 2002–07

Dunn was a consistent playmaker in Atlanta after spending his first five NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dunn had three consecutive seasons of cracking 1,000 rushing yards between 2004 to ’06. In six seasons with the Falcons, Dunn had 5,981 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. Dunn is also remembered in Atlanta for his community work, providing affordable housing for low-income families.

Carolina Panthers

  • Jake Delhomme, QB, 2003–09

Delhomme was the Panthers’ all-time passing leader (19,258 yards) until he was surpassed by Cam Newton (29,725 yards). Like Newton, Delhomme guided the Panthers to a Super Bowl, going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during the 2003 season. The Panthers fell short, but Delhomme had a sensational performance with 323 passing yards and three touchdowns. Delhomme went undrafted in 1997, played a few seasons in NFL Europe before landing with the Panthers.

Chicago Bears

  • Julius Peppers, DE, 2010–13

Peppers, a 2024 Hall of Fame inductee, had four dominant seasons in Chicago. After eight seasons with the Panthers, Peppers signed a six-year, $91.5 million contract to join the Bears where he made first-team All-Pro in his first season. Peppers later became a notable free-agent signing for the Green Bay Packers.

Dallas Cowboys

Brad Mangin for Sports Illustrated

  • Deion Sanders, CB, 1995–99

After failing to sign Sanders in 1994, the Cowboys didn’t hesitate to add him after his one-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers. Sanders won his second career Super Bowl during his first season in Dallas, which handed the legendary cornerback a seven-year, $35 million contract. Seven teams had serious interest in Sanders during the “Deion Sweepstakes.”

Detroit Lions

  • Golden Tate, WR, 2014–18

After leaving the Seattle Seahawks, Tate’s statistical numbers increased playing with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in Detroit. Tate recorded at least 90 receptions from 2014 to ’17, and had three 1,000-yard seasons during his four-and-a-half seasons with the Lions. Tate went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

Green Bay Packers

  • Reggie White, DE, 1993–98

White opened the floodgates for NFL stars gaining power in free agency. He left the Eagles to join the Packers on a four-year contract worth $17 million. He was worth every penny, helping the Packers capture the Super Bowl during the 1996 season. The legendary defensive lineman had 68.5 total sacks during his six seasons in Green Bay.

Los Angeles–St. Louis Rams

  • Kurt Warner, QB, 1998–2003

Warner’s rise from grocery store employee to arena football player to NFL MVP was turned into a film (American Underdog) in 2021. Warner shattered NFL records for the 1999 Rams, who defeated the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl. Warner won a second MVP in ’01, but fell to a young Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.

Minnesota Vikings

John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated

  • John Randle, DE, 1990–2000

Randle, one of the most dominant interior defensive lineman in NFL history, went undrafted in 1990 and failed to make the Buccaneers’ roster during a tryout. That turned out to be the Vikings’ gain; he made the team as a rookie before earning starter’s snaps the following year. Randle made six consecutive All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams from ’93 to ’98. In 11 seasons, he racked up 114 total sacks for the Vikings.

New Orleans Saints

  • Drew Brees, QB, 2006–20

The Miami Dolphins passed on Brees because of injury concerns and traded for Daunte Culpepper. That became one of the biggest mistakes in Dolphins history and the best decision in Saints history. Brees partnered with Sean Payton and had 15 prolific seasons in New Orleans, including winning the Super Bowl during the 2009 season. Brees, who started his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers, recorded 68,010 passing yards and 491 touchdowns with the Saints.

New York Giants

  • Plaxico Burress, WR, 2005–08

Burress formed a productive tandem with Hines Ward in Pittsburgh, but he decided to test the open market, receiving a six-year, $25 million contract from the Giants. Burress had a dominant first season in New York with 76 catches for 1,214 yards and seven touchdowns. But Burress is best remembered for his sensational playoff run during the 2007 season, helping the Giants defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Burress recorded the game-winning touchdown and ruined the Patriots’ perfect season.

Philadelphia Eagles

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

  • Nick Foles, QB, 2017–18

Some might find this one controversial because the Eagles have had many productive external free agents. But only Foles delivered a Super Bowl for Philadelphia. Foles had a memorable run after taking over for the injured Carson Wentz, and outdueled Brady and the Patriots in one of the greatest Super Bowls in NFL history. For his efforts in the “Philly Special,” Foles gained a statue at Lincoln Financial Field.

San Francisco 49ers

  • Deion Sanders, CB, 1994

Sanders only spent one season with the 49ers, but he made it count by producing one of the best seasons ever for a cornerback and guiding the team to a Super Bowl victory over the Chargers. Sanders was named Defensive Player of the Year that season.

Seattle Seahawks

  • Michael Bennett, DE, 2013–17

Bennett was originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks, but that only lasted a few months. He found a role playing as a defensive tackle for the Buccaneers during four seasons. He signed with the Seahawks on a one-year, $4.8 million contract in 2013. He was a key contributor for the Super Bowl-winning team that season, and re-signed on a four-year, $28.5 million deal.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated

  • Tom Brady, QB, 2020–22

Surprisingly, Brady had a quiet market after deciding to part ways with the Patriots after 20 seasons. The Buccaneers were grateful that Brady chose them over the Chargers, the other team to express serious interest in the legendary quarterback. Brady won a Super Bowl in his first season in Tampa Bay and made three postseason appearances.


  • John Riggins, RB, 1976–79, 1981–95

After missing the 1980 season because of a contract dispute, Riggins became one of the best players of the decade, helping Washington win the Super Bowl and becoming league MVP in ’82. Riggins, who started his career with the New York Jets, was a first-team All-Pro in ’83 and later made the Hall of Fame.

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