March 14, 2006, the day which the New Orleans Saints managed to battle off the Miami Dolphins for the signature of Drew Brees. The quarterback signed a six-year, $60 million deal with the NFC South side.
Although Brees came into the deal wanting a salary of a top five "franchise" quarterback, he certainly proved his worth by the end of his fourth season with the team after he won Super Bowl XLIV against the Indianapolis Colts. This was the team's first championship in their history.
Since signing with the team, he has been selected to eight Pro Bowls, earning himself several team and league passing records along the way, and has never thrown for less than 4,350 yards per season.
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He came into New Orleans, a city devastated by the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina, and with his own problems as well as he recently overcame a shoulder injury, and turned into one of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen. Arguably the greatest free agency signs in NFL history.
Some have even compared it to that of when Reggie White signed for the Green Bay Packers in 1993, the first year of unrestricted free agency.
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ESPN surveyed all 46 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters and asked them who they thought was the better signing. The report said: "White received 27 votes as the greatest free-agent signing in NFL history, while Brees received 15.5. Three selectors split their votes between the two players, and several of them described White and Brees as "1 and 1A" or vice versa.
"Another split his vote between White and Deion Sanders, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys in back-to-back years and helped lead both to Super Bowl wins. Three other voters chose Peyton Manning's career-ending stint with the Denver Broncos."
"I don't think it's possible to have a better free-agent signing than New Orleans and Drew Brees," said former St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz. "In a quarterback-driven league, the Saints not only recruited a prolific passer, a team leader and a champion -- they also brought in a community-minded athlete who stood front and center in the aftermath of Katrina.
"Brees has been there for New Orleans in every way. … How can you possibly top that combination?"
He certainly has been a game changer for the Saints and is definitely in the top two of the greatest free agent signings in NFL history. The decision changed the history of two franchise because he picked New Orleans over Miami, who eventually went and traded for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper instead.
Imagine how different NFL history would be if Brees went and played for the Dolphins instead. Would he have that Super Bowl ring and all those NFL records still? We'll never know.
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