Path to the Super Bowl: Draft or Free Agency?

  • Shane Richardson
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Super Bowl Winners

Every off-season, teams strive to find those missing pieces that will put them at the top of the NFL the upcoming year. Whether it is through the draft, trade, or free agency acquisitions, each plays an important part in the building of a Super Bowl winner. Conventional wisdom says championship teams are built through the draft, and there is no doubt it is the most critical of the three. The draft is where teams get young, hungry players and it is where the tone for the success or failure of a franchise is set. Although it is difficult to measure with any precise accuracy how much each category contributes to a roster’s prosperity, how important is the draft versus free agency when it comes to building a contender?

Examining the last decade of Super Bowl winners, each team has players they acquired through all three categories. Taking a look at each team’s final Super Bowl roster and breaking down how each of those 53 players were acquired, fans can get a better appreciation on how a team is really assembled. For the purpose of this article, only a team’s final Super Bowl roster was evaluated; there are players who either ended up on injured reserved, suspended, or were traded away that are not considered for this exercise. Role players are important components of a team, but the core of the team is what elevates the team to a championship. For example, over the last decade, the New Orleans Saints are the only team who signed their quarterback, Drew Brees, via free agency and the New York Giants are the only team that technically traded for their quarterback, trading quarterback Philip Rivers and three additional draft picks to the San Diego Chargers for Eli Manning.

NOTES: Undrafted free agents and players signed off other team’s practice squads are tabulated as free agents. Players who were traded for by the team but subsequently signed a long-term contract with the team were counted as trades. Thought process behind that concept is the player would not likely have signed long-term with that particular team without the trade. Special teams players are the punter, kicker, and long snapper.

Turn the page for the 2013 Seattle Seahawks.

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