Who is the best free-agent signing in each NFL team’s history?
NFL free agency is a double-edged sword. The potential for a franchise-changing addition is there as well as the chance that big-ticket player turns into a massive bust. We’ll stick with the positive today and focus on the best free-agent signing each NFL team has made, going division by division, beginning in the AFC East.
Buffalo Bills: DT Sam Adams
The Bills were in need of a run-stuffer in 2003 when they signed Adams to a multi-year deal. Adams solidified the middle of Buffalo’s defense, becoming a Pro Bowl alternate in 2003 and reaching the Pro Bowl in 2004. Cap concerns caused the Bills to release Adams after the 2005 season, but he was excellent in Buffalo.
Miami Dolphins: G Bob Kuechenberg
A key member of the Dolphins’ great teams in the 1970s and early 1980s, Keuchenberg signed with Miami as a free agent in 1970. Keuchenberg spent the next 14 years with the Dolphins, winning two Super Bowls and reaching six Pro Bowls. The fact that Kuechenberg hasn’t gotten into the Hall of Fame is a source of great frustration to Dolphins’ fans.
New England Patriots: LB Mike Vrabel
While Tom Brady gets all the hype for the Patriots’ dynasty, one of the team’s most important acquisitions came as a free agent defense. Vrabel signed with New England after beginning his career with the Steelers and became an integral part of Bill Belichick’s defense. During his time as a Patriot Vrabel won three Super Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro in 2007.
New York Jets: C Kevin Mawae
Curtis Martin has a strong case for this slot but the Jets’ turnaround under Bill Parcells in the late 1990s started with the arrival of Mawae. New York saw their offensive line become a dominant force thanks to Mawae, who went on to make the Pro Bowl in six straight seasons from 1999-2004. The eight-time All-Pro was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019.