Who was the greatest free agent in the history of major sports? My vote easily goes to Randy Johnson, who signed a 4 year $54 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the year 2000 and then delivered an incredible 4 straight Cy Young Awards and also a World Series title to Jerry Colangelo for having the foresight to secure Randy’s services. Colangelo also pulled off perhaps the second greatest free agent signing ever for his Phoenix Suns when he signed point guard Steve Nash in 2005, and Steve then proceeded to win two straight NBA MVP Awards in 2005 and 2006. That is certainly quite an accomplishment for Colangelo. I invite my readers to name some other free agent signings that parallel these two; I bet that you will have a hard time coming up with any signings that even approach them.
How ironic it is that Peyton Manning just might be coming to the Arizona Cardinals, which then would complete a trilogy of the three greatest free agent signings ever all going to teams of the city of Phoenix. It is also interesting that these signings would encompass the three major sports of baseball, basketball, and football. Of course this trilogy is dependent on how the Cardinals fare should Manning chose the Cardinals. If one were to take any stock in various news reports, Peyton has apparently narrowed his choice of teams to Arizona, Denver, or Miami. This writer believes Peyton would be the perfect fit for the Cardinals, a team which I believe is a star quarterback away from becoming a great team. I will take the low road until it happens, but I believe that one good sign is the fact that NO information is leaking from the Cardinals camp about it, and that silence would certainly make sense if Manning is leaning towards playing here.
Randy Johnson, Steve Nash, and Peyton Manning all became free agents because their teams did not want to pay them the money. Randy ended up signing for an average salary of $14 million per year and so did Steve Nash. Those money figures seem low today, even though only a little over a decade has passed since Randy signed. It just proves that the Seattle Mariners and the Dallas Mavericks severely under-rated the value of Johnson and Nash, and in retrospect these teams should have kept them. I know that Houston secured Johnson’s services for a half a season in which his record was 12-1, but even with Randy’s incredible record with them the Astros would not pull the trigger and sign him to a long term contract.
I do not exactly know how to comment about owner Jim Irsay and the Colts releasing Manning, because I know that Indianapolis is in a rebuilding mode. It does seem ludicrous to me, however, to let perhaps the greatest quarterback in NFL history walk over money. A smart outlay of money says that Peyton will bounce back from his neck surgeries and resume his incredible Hall of Fame career without a hitch. Whatever the team that secures his services pays to get Manning, it will be worth his salary if they end up hitching onto his strong throwing arm and riding on it to the Promised Land. This writer is one who emphatically has faith that the Phoenix Trilogy of free agent signings will come to fruition and that a Super Bowl is in the offing. Phoenix’s gain is Indianapolis, Dallas, or Seattle’s loss.