1. Peyton Manning, QB
Contract: Five years, $96 million
Perhaps the biggest and most important free agent signing in the history of the league was John Elway’s ability to reel in Peyton Manning, who was cut in 2011 by the Indianapolis Colts.
The Broncos have been to two Super Bowls in the years since the Colts cut Manning, while Indianapolis was demolished in its only trip to the AFC Championship game.
The signing of Manning yielded immediate returns for the Broncos, who became instant Super Bowl contenders with his presence alone.
Manning played at an MVP level for three of his four seasons in Denver and won league MVP with his video game-like 2013 season where he set NFL records with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards.
Over the course of his four seasons in Denver, Manning played at arguably the highest level he has in his entire career, save for the 2015 season where his health and physical abilities had regressed considerably.
Manning helped lead the Broncos to two AFC Championships, four division championships, and one Super Bowl title.
It’s hard to even quantify how good this free agent signing was with words or statistics. The experience of having a legend come to your team in free agency and play at this high of a level is something most football fans can only dream of.