Free agency is underway, and the flourish of big signings has begun.
Green Bay let Chad Clifton hit the open market, however, the Packers promptly re-signed him to a three-year-deal, in response to NFC North rivals signing pass rushers Julius Peppers (Bears) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (Lions).
Over recent years Ted Thompson has been wary to bring in unrestricted free agents to Green Bay. However, whilst being conservative, Thompson has a good success rate when it comes to free agents.
Ryan Pickett and Brandon Chillar have both been solid players for the Packers since their arrivals. Undoubtedly, Thompson‘s greatest hit has been Defensive Most Valuable Player Charles Woodson.
Here is a look at Green Bay's top five unrestricted free agent acquisitions since 1993.
5. DB Mike Prior
Prior was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round of the 1985 NFL Draft.
A 6'0", 208-lb defensive back from Illinois State University, Prior played in 13 NFL seasons from 1985, representing Tampa, Indianapolis, and Green Bay.
Prior spent six years with Green Bay after becoming a successful starter with the Colts during the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. Prior only started seven games for Green Bay; however, his presence to the team was invaluable.
Prior recorded eight interceptions for Green Bay in what was a situational role for the Pack. Four of Prior’s interceptions came in Green Bay’s 1997 Super Bowl-winning season.
His greatest contribution came when he intercepted a pass thrown by quarterback Drew Bledsoe of the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
4. DE/DT Santana N. Dotson
Dotson also spent six years with Green Bay, starting 83 games, missing only three.
A versatile lineman, Dotson rotated playing defensive end and defensive tackle for Green Bay, recording 158 tackles and 26 sacks.
The former Baylor lineman was voted Defensive Rookie of the Year (1992) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and also played in two Super Bowls with Green Bay.
Dotson, along with White, helped Green Bay form one of the most formidable front sevens in the mid-90’s. These two free agent signings were a catalyst of Green Bay’s success defensively.
3. WR/KR Desmond Howard
In two one-year stints with Green Bay, Desmond Howard will be remembered and adored by the Packer nation for his 99-yard kickoff, returned for the game-changing touchdown (the longest kick return in Super Bowl history).
Howard, who had 244 total return yards in the game, including key punt runbacks of 32 and 34 yards, was voted the game's Most Valuable Player, becoming the first special teams player to be so honoured.
In Green Bay’s 1997 super bowl winning season, Howard had 58 punt returns, averaging 15.1 yards a carry, recording three touchdowns, his longest being 92 yards.
2. CB Charles Woodson
Woodson is the only player on this list so far yet to win a Super Bowl with Green Bay, but his contribution to the Packers has been nothing short of a remarkable.
On completion of his 12th year in the NFL and fourth in Green Bay, Woodson, at the tender age of 33, still remains as one of the league’s premier cornerbacks.
Since signing with the Packers in 2006, Woodson has intercepted 28 passes, more than he managed with Oakland in eight years. Woodson has returned seven of his Packer interceptions for touchdowns.
This season has been his best statistically, setting career highs with nine interceptions, three touchdowns, 18 pass deflections, and four forced fumbles.
Woodson's seven interceptions for touchdowns ties him Woodson with Herb Adderly, who recorded seven from 1961-69.
1. DE Reggie White
The first unrestricted free-agency period brought arguably the best free-agency acquisition in Packer history in the form of Reggie White.
The deal was, at the time, the richest contract ever offered to a defensive lineman, and White proved to be worth every penny. Hall of Famer White accounted for 68½ sacks in six years with the Pack.
Contract - Four Years, $17 Million
The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, retired after the 2000 season, retiring as the NFL all-time sack leader, with 198.
With the ‘Minister of Defence’ at the heart of Green Bay’s defence, the Packers made consecutive Super Bowl appearances, including a win over New England in 1997, when White set a Super Bowl record with three sacks.
White led Green Bay in sacks over four seasons;
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