3. Darren Sproles (Signed in 2011)
After an electric college career at Kansas State, Darren Sproles heard his name called in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played his rookie season with Drew Brees and then when the 2010 season came to a close, Brees recruited Sproles and it worked. The versatile running back joined the Who Dat Nation and became one of the best free-agent signings of all time.
Sproles made an immediate impact in New Orleans, tallying 1,313 yards from scrimmage to go along with nine total touchdowns. The dude was quite the weapon and not just on offense either, as he made his presence known on special teams too. He was capable of taking it to the house on any kick or punt return.
Sproles fit Payton’s offense perfectly because he wasn’t just a running back who carried the football but one would that could make serious plays as a pass-catcher as well. He finished his three-year Saints tenure with 3,048 total yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns.
Forget how things ended between these two and focus on how solid Sproles was as a Saint. He took the offense to the next level and was definitely one of the best free-agent signings during Payton’s tenure.