Friday marks the start of the new league year -- and free agency. Trades can be consummated, signings can be made, changes can be counted on. Teams will try to reshape their rosters and their outlooks the same way other teams have succeeded doing in years past. Here is a look at arguably the five top free-agent signings since free agency kicked off in 1993.
Now that Brees has led the Saints to their first Super Bowl title -- a win that New Orleans is still celebrating and will for a long time -- an argument can be made that he was the most significant free-agent acquisition in NFL history. It's not hard to make the case. Brees not only helped save the sagging fortunes of a franchise but did the same for the city. Brees has been as dynamic off the field as he has on it, and New Orleans would not be the same without him.
What Brees meant to New Orleans is what White meant to Green Bay. White went to the Packers when few players wanted to in the very first year of free agency, 1993. It helped set a tone and helped the franchise return to its glory days. With White serving as the minister of defense, the Packers won their first Super Bowl in 29 years. White posted 68.5 sacks in six seasons in Green Bay and became the leader on a team that featured quarterback Brett Favre.
It's hard to figure out whether Sanders was more valuable as a free agent to the 49ers in 1994 or the Cowboys in 1995. He helped each win a Super Bowl, justifying the millions that were lavished on him. In one season with San Francisco, Sanders intercepted six passes and returned three for touchdowns on his way to defensive player of the year honors. The next season, Sanders provided some of the same plays for the Cowboys.
4. Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Giants
After spending five seasons in Pittsburgh, Burress migrated to New York, where he helped the Giants dethrone the Patriots and win Super Bowl XLII. It wasn't just that Burress caught the winning touchdown pass with 35 seconds left. It was also that Burress made so many huge plays that season. New York could not have made it to the Super Bowl without him. And as much as New York benefited from Burress' presence, it hurt just as much from his absence.
Bill Parcells drafted Martin in New England, signed him in New York and never regretted either move. After rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons in New England, Martin did the same for seven straight seasons in New York. And at a time when most running backs seem washed up past age 30, Martin ran for an NFL-best 1,697 yards in 2004 at age 31, becoming the oldest player to lead the NFL in rushing.