The Browns made history by signing Vinny Testaverde.
History is fascinating. Especially Browns history. With free agency still a topic of conversation, and quarterbacks all the rage, we thought it’d be fun to go back nearly 30 years to the invention of NFL free agency. While the NFL as a league has been around for a long time, free agency as a concept is relatively new.
Before free agency, an NFL team would basically be able to keep you around as long as they wanted. A player would only be allowed to talk to another team if their original team didn’t want them back. This format changed over the years, and different rules were implemented to keep giving teams control over players, even tacking on penalties for signing other team’s players.
This all changed in 1993, where the modern NFL structure was created.
Sure guys like Johnny Unitas signed with the Colts as a free agent but that’s only because the team that originally had his rights, the Steelers, didn’t want him. He was an unknown commodity. That wasn’t the case for the Browns and the Raiders, who were the first two teams to acquire established names at the position during the 1993 free agency period.
Who did the Browns sign?
For those of you who know your Browns history, you already know who the Browns signed. In 1992 Bernie Kosar was falling apart and playing poorly when he was healthy. The former Miami Hurricane quarterback wasn’t what he used to be. With a declining franchise star, what do you do? You sign his former college backup, Vinny Testaverde.
Granted, Browns fans have a mixed opinion of Testaverde but he did go to the Pro Bowl in 1994 with the Ravens and again in 1998 with the Jets. He’s also currently 15th all-time in passing yards and 17th all-time in touchdowns. That’s not bad at all.
The Raiders beat the Browns to the punch though by about two weeks when they signed Super Bowl hero Jeff Hostetler away from the Giants. He would also go on to a Pro Bowl in 1994. Granted neither man is Tom Brady or Peyton Manning but for the time they were the biggest free-agent quarterbacks to make the move.