Best free agent acquisitions in Green Bay Packers history: 1. Reggie White
Reggie White is not only the greatest free agent acquisition of all-time by the Packers organization, but without any hesitation, the greatest free agent signing in NFL history. Some football fans down in New Orleans may beg to differ, but White is first because, well, he’s the first huge free agent signing of the modern NFL.
White starred in college for the Tennessee Volunteers and briefly for the Memphis Showboats in the USFL. He would be the No. 4 overall pick in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. While with the Eagles, White cemented a Pro Football Hall of Fame legacy as the greatest pass rusher of his era.
White chalked up accolade after accolade with the Eagles, but all of his personal accomplishments didn’t muster anything close to a Super Bowl championship. After eight years in the City of Brotherly Love, White would become a free agent in spring 1993. This was the dawn of the salary cap era in the NFL.
Green Bay won the White free agency sweepstakes by signing him to a four-year deal worth $17 million. White would play the next six seasons for the Packers, being a Pro Bowler every year, making the All-Pro First-Team twice, reaching two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI over the New England Patriots in 1996 and winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the second time of his career in 1998.
In Green Bay, White became the NFL’s all-time sack leader. Though he would be surpassed by Buffalo Bills legend Bruce Smith a few years later, White is considered to be one of the greatest football players to ever walk this earth, regardless of the position he played.
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By adding White when they did, the Packers gained the superstar they needed on the other side of the ball from Brett Favre to be championship-caliber under head coach Mike Holmgren.
Though White played just half-a-dozen seasons in Green Bay, he is universally seen as a top-five player in Packers history. He is the greatest Eagle of all-time and the sheer mention of his name exudes greatness.
Tragically, White would pass away in his sleep the day after Christmas 2004 due to cardiac arrhythmia at the age of 43.
He was only four years removed from his last NFL season with the 2000 Carolina Panthers. So White would be posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 2006.
White’s football legacy is both massive and widespread. You simply cannot tell the story of the NFL without mentioning his name. Though his on-field greatness will never fade, perhaps his biggest impact to the sport was his decision to leave Philadelphia for Green Bay in 1993 NFL free agency.
Sure, the owners still hold most of the chips on the negotiating table. That being said, White’s choice of joining The Pack in free agency to close out his prime opened pathways for other NFL players that want to leave their current place of employment for greener pastures.