As the sun rises on the official start of the 2015 NFL season, numerous free agents are looking forward to signing contracts with new teams. Over the years, there have been some mega signings made on this day – Drew Brees to the Saints, Kurt Warner to the Cardinals, Peyton Manning to the Broncos, and Shannon Sharpe to the Ravens.
While Ted Thompson and the current Packers organization are more likely to let the free agency signing period come and go without much pomp and circumstance, there have been a times where Green Bay has opened up their wallet and paid some big name players.
1. Reggie White
Probably the biggest free agent signing in NFL history happened when defensive lineman Reggie White decided to ink a surprising deal with the Packers. After singing with the team, White said, “I wanted to try to get a new start, and hopefully find a team that would be devoted to winning.”
A coveted free agent in 1993, White anchored the line for six seasons, boosting the defense to tops in the league during his tenure with the team. White tallied 68.5 quarterback sacks, good enough for a Packers record at the time. He also had 239 tackles, forced 14 fumbles and had one interception.
White was also crucial to the Packers two Super Bowl appearances following the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He was also crowned the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1998, a year in which he has 16 sacks – and celebrated his 37th birthday. Let’s take a look at some highlights.
2. Charles Woodson
Following the 2005 season, it seemed like Charles Woodson was pretty much washed up. But the Packers did not share the rest of the league’s sentiment. Instead, they were the only team to offer Woodson a contract – a seven-year, $52 million deal. While in Green Bay, Woodson flourished in the Packers secondary.
During his seven seasons with the team, Woodson picked off quarterbacks a total of 38 times, returning nine of them for touchdowns. He earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors for the 2009 season, and was instrumental in the Packers’ road to Super Bowl XLV, even though he had to watch the second half of that game with a broken collar bone.
3. Desmond Howard
After getting stolen from the Packers in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, Desmond Howard found his way to the Packers via free agency in 1996. In that year, Howard led the league in punt returns (58), punt return yardage (875), punt return average (15.1 yards/return) and punt return touchdowns (3).
His return ability was key to the Packers Super Bowl XXXI run. In a playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, Howard returned a punt for a touchdown and set up a crucial touchdown drive with a long return.
In Super Bowl XXXI, Howard was named the Super Bowl MVP. In that game, he tallied 244 combined return yards, including a 99-yard kick off return that all but clinched the game.