If there's one team that's made the most noise in free agency, it's been the Denver Broncos.
John Elway has proven over the last three years that it's “Super Bowl or Bust” for the Broncos by being more aggressive than anyone else.
Signing Peyton Manning got the ball rolling and other talented players – like Wes Welker, DeMarcus Ware and others – have followed him to the Mile High City in pursuit of a championship.
So, who are the five best free agent signings in Broncos history? Let's take a look:
5. Ed McCaffrey – Denver was building toward something special when they signed the tall and lanky services of McCaffrey. He quickly became a crowd favorite, not only because he was somewhat goofy and enjoyed smiling on the field, but also due to his competitive drive as well. Eddy Mac became one of the greatest receivers in Broncos history and still ranks third in touchdown receptions (46) and fourth in both receptions (462) and yards (6,200).
4. Jake Plummer – Plummer was the man to take over after the Brian Griese experiment had played out. He was perfect for Mike Shanahan's offense; a quarterback with a big arm and much mobility. Shanny called play-action passes and runs with Plummer behind center and when they were on, the Broncos were very difficult to stop. Especially in the red zone. Plummer was a winner, going 39-15 from 2003-2006; only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had more wins over that time.
3. Aqib Talib – Talib hasn't played a down for Denver yet, but he still is their third-best free agent signing of all time. Why? He's a true and legitimate lock-down cornerback. The Broncos were blessed to have Champ Bailey paroling the defensive backfield for many years, but the game passed Bailey by and Denver was in need of a new No. 1 corner. What Talib has that Bailey didn't is a little more size. At 6'1”, Talib can play physically with receivers at the line and his height allows him to go up and battle for footballs as they hang in the air. He'll prove to be very valuable this season and for the next six years.
2. Wes Welker – Simply stated, Welker is the greatest slot receiver in the history of the NFL. Sure, the position isn't that old, but he's defined what it means to be stellar at the spot. For slot men, it's all about reading and reacting to the defense. Depending on how the cornerback is lined up, the slot receiver reacts, running a specific route that will beat that coverage. His success with the New England Patriots is well known and he's a big reason the Broncos were able to set so many single-season NFL records on the offensive side last year. Not only did he open the field up for outside men Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but he was Manning's most valuable third-down option.
1. Peyton Manning – Manning is not only the best Broncos free agent acquisition of all time, he's up there as the best free agent signing in NFL history. No one thought Manning would be able to do what he's done, especially so quickly. He came in and led right away, creating and fostering relationships with teammates, building trust and taking the team to the playoffs. Last year the Broncos improved greatly with Manning under center; his constant pursuit of perfection allowed him to enjoy the greatest quarterbacking season in the history of the league. It's not just his profound production on the field, but all the intangibles off it. He's a major reason Welker came to town, and the same can be said of Talib, DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders and T.J. Ward. Manning's signing started a snow ball effect and now the Broncos are one of the most talented teams in the NFL.
Can they turn it into a Super Bowl win?