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The 10 best free agent signings of the Sean Payton era

This should be a big couple weeks for the Saints starting in early March. Since 2006 free agency has been a real hit or miss exercise for the Saints. Don’t let the Drew Brees signing in 2006, arguably the best free agent signing of all time, cloud the fact that the Saints haven’t been masters at this under Sean Payton. I compiled the ten best and the ten worst since 2006 below for your enjoyment, starting with the 10 best:

THE 10 BEST:

10. Brodrick Bunkley, DT, 2010

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Bunkley was a solid player that was never spectacular for the Saints. He played three seasons as a steady run stuffer for the Saints, though his first season was by far his best.

9. Anthony Hargrove, DT, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09:  Anthony Hargrove #69 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with fans in the stands after the Saints won 14-9 against the Minnesota Vikings at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS – SEPTEMBER 09: Anthony Hargrove #69 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with fans in the stands after the Saints won 14-9 against the Minnesota Vikings at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Hargrove only played two years with the Saints, but he was a crucial sub package pass rusher in the Super Bowl winning season, finishing with 5 sacks. A cool story, too, because he had a rough history of drug use. The Bounty Gate situation would unfairly ruin his career.

8. Benjamin Watson, TE, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 30:  Benjamin Watson #82 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates his second quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 30: Benjamin Watson #82 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates his second quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It was a decent signing for depth prior to this year, but after the season he just had it’s now undeniable this was an excellent pickup. At 35 he just had the best year of his career with 74 catches, 825 yards and 6 touchdowns.

7. Ben Grubbs, G, 2012

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Some might remember Grubbs more for how it ended than how it started, but he produced nicely as a fill in for Carl Nicks. He was elected to one Pro Bowl.

6. Keenan Lewis, CB, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 09:  Keenan Lewis #28 of the New Orleans Saints is injured on a play during the second quarter of a game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 9, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

There’s no question after three seasons he’s come out as a hit, though injuries are starting to take a hit. He’s the closest thing the Saints have had to a shutdown corner and he plays through most injuries. Hopefully he has more good seasons ahead.

5. Jabari Greer, CB, 2009

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 16:  Jabari Greer #33 of the New Orleans Saints intercepts a ball inteded for  Dallas Clark #44 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 16, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This turned out much better than most of us expected. For a while Greer was clearly the best cover corner on the team and there’s no doubt he played an instrumental role in the 2009 Super Bowl title.

4. Scott Fujita, LB, 2006

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 18:  Scott Fujita #55 of the New Orleans Saints runs onto the field after being introduced prior to playing the New York Giants at the Louisiana Superdome on October 18, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Fujita was a starter on the Super Bowl team but as much as his contribution on the field was significant, his contribution off of it was just as much. He was a leader, captain and voice of reason in the locker room. The Browns paid him stupid money to lure him away but he was probably worth it.

3. Darren Sharper, FS, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 31: Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates a play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)

This was basically a one year rental. Forget the off the field stuff (I wish I could), what Sharper did in 2009 set the Saints up to be a top seed in the NFC. It was worth it, though, without him winning a Super Bowl might not happen.

2. Darren Sproles, RB, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 04:   Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 4, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

He broke the NFL record for all purpose yards in a season. He was everything we all hoped Reggie Bush would be.

1. Drew Brees, QB, 2006

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to running back Darren Sproles #43 and breaks the single-season passing record in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Arguably the best free agent signing ever. He’s still on the team as an elite QB. No debate necessary on this one.

Note: Not included was Delvin Breaux, though one more good season was probably be enough to launch him ahead of at least Bunkley and Hargrove.

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I write about football.

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