1. Drew Brees (Signed in 2006)
The suspense shouldn’t have been killing anyone because we all knew Drew Brees was going to be No. 1 here. He’s the best free-agent the Saints have ever signed and it’s not even particularly close.
As most know, Brees was a second-round pick by the Chargers in the 2001 NFL Draft out of Purdue. He looked like a bust early on in his Chargers days, which led San Diego to spend their first-round pick on Philip Rivers (well, technically Eli Manning, but you know how that turned out). Brees then played his butt off to try and keep his job in San Diego but a shoulder injury at the end of the 2005 season led to him hitting free agency.
It came down to New Orleans and Miami to land Brees and fortunately, he picked the Saints despite the city recently getting hit by Hurricane Katrina and still trying to pick up the pieces. Brees and Payton came into New Orleans together and changed the Saints organization forever. That 2006 season was one of the most special seasons in NFL history and it’s one that fans will cherish forever.
Brees led the Saints to the playoffs in nine of his 15 seasons and was the quarterback of the Super Bowl championship team in the 2009 season, winning Super Bowl MVP.
Brees finished his Saints career with 68,010 yards and 491 touchdowns while stacking up the awards and achievements in the process. He’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer as soon as he is eligible.
Without a doubt, Drew Brees is the best free-agent signing not just under Sean Payton, but of all time.