By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on March 11, 2014
The Green Bay Packers have a rich history when it comes to free agency, although younger fans may not know it considering how Ted Thompson conducts himself. Since 1993, the Packers have signed five players in particular who were directly responsible for Green Bay winning a Super Bowl. For that reason, they are the five biggest free agent signings in Packers franchise history.
There’s no question 1996 was a big year for the Packers as they won their first championship since Super Bowl II. What many people may not realize is ’96 was also a huge year for Green Bay in free agency. In fact, three of the five players on this list were signed prior to that season. One of them was wide receiver Don Beebe, who produced a career year in which he had 699 receiving yards (second on the team) and four touchdowns.
Another ’96 signing was Santana Dotson. The defensive tackle was productive prior to Green Bay, but it was his time with the Packers that made his career memorable. Dotson was a force in the middle in which he recorded 37 total tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 5 ½ sacks in Green Bay’s Super Bowl season. He was a beast in the postseason that year as well. Dotson recorded 26 sacks while he played for the Packers.
The third ’96 signing on this last was none other than Desmond Howard. Without the return specialist, the Packers may have never got the chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Howard’s 99-yard kick return for a touchdown landed him Super Bowl MVP honors and cemented his status forever in Packers lore. His lone full season with the Packers saw him put up numbers that he never came close to matching again in his career.
The great Charles Woodson is one of the best free agent signings in NFL history and the second best in Green Bay. Everyone ruled him out, but the Packers believed he still had something left in the tank. Over time, Woodson became the heart and soul of the Packers defense, as well as, the emotional leader who helped lead Green Bay to a victory in Super Bowl XLV. The fan favorite also was awarded a Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
The greatest free agent signing in NFL history and one of the best things to ever happen to the Packers was the acquisition of defensive end Reggie White. The legend ranks second in franchise history with 68 ½ sacks. His presence on the field, in the locker room and in the community will go unmatched until the end of time in Wisconsin. Along with Brett Favre, he is largely responsible for Green Bay’s Super Bowl win in ’96.
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