Despite being a long-suffering franchise, the Arizona Cardinals have boasted a slew of great NFL players. There are some seasons when the Cardinals had moments making smart decisions in acquiring players via free-agency.

Sadly, none of their free-agent signings throughout their history brought in a Super Bowl title in Arizona (yet), but a few notable names have or will eventually leave a lasting mark for being one of the best players that ever donned a Cardinals uniform.

Here are the 5 greatest free agent signings in Arizona Cardinals history.

Honorable Mention. Andy Lee

A punter? Yes. But one of the best the league has ever seen.

Before Andy Lee signed for the Arizona Cardinals, he is already an accomplished punter. With stint with the Cleveland Browns, the Carolina Panthers, and NFC North rivals San Francisco 49ers, the now 37-year-old Lee has been named to four All-Pro teams and made it to tree Pro-Bowl games.

Arizona acquired Lee in September of 2017, and immediately changed their special teams, helping Arizona’s defense to not surrender good field position. For the next three years, Lee ranked 7th, 1st, and 2nd respectively in yards per punt. In 2018, the strong-legged Lee was the NFL’s punting yards leader.

It’s not the sexiest of positions, but when a team’s punter is one of the best in the league and produced, he deserves recognition.

5. Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith, Cowboys

Cardinals fans will argue that Emmit Smith didn’t have productive years with the Arizona Cardinals, and they will be correct.

Signing as a free agent after spending 13 years as a Dallas Cowboy, the hall of fame running back was already 34 years old when he brought his talents to Arizona. Out to prove that he is, in his words, a “1,300-yard back”, Smith struggled in his first season with the Cardinals, managing to only rush for 256 yards with 2 touchdowns.

Things will be different for his second stint, though, as he would drastically improve his numbers in his age 35 season. Playing 15 games for the season, Smith ran for 937 yards and scored 9 touchdowns.

The production is not worthy of a top signing, but what Emmit Smith brought to the Cardinals makes him belong on this list. By signing with Arizona, Smith brought in a much-needed fanfare and national attention to the franchise. His stature and star power provided the Cardinals credibility, something the desperately needed.

Smith retired after two years playing for Arizona. While he didn’t bring good numbers on the field, he brought in a tremendous impact and national attention for the Cardinals through his name recognition.

4. Mike Iupati

One way of improving your team is signing away your rival’s best players.

In 2014, in an effort to bolster their offensive line, the Arizona Cardinals lured away Pro-Bowl guard Mike Iupati from the San Francisco 49ers. Already a Pro-bowl level player, the University of Idaho product helped improved the Cardinals’ run blocking, averaging 4.2 yards per carry from 3.3 the previous year.

In his first two seasons, the Cardinals ranked 2nd and 6th respectively in points scored. Iupati injured his neck in 2017 and only played one game. During that time, the Cardinals dropped to 25th in points scored per game, proving that he’s a vital part of Arizona’s offense.

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During his Cardinals tenure, Iupati played a total of 39 games. He eventually helped Arizona’s offense as the Cardinals reach the 2015 NFC Championship Game. He will also be named to the All-Pro team the same year.

3. Seth Joyner

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted linebacker Seth Joyner in 1986 and enjoyed relative success. As an Eagle, Joyner was named to three All-Pro teams and appeared in three Pro-Bowl games.

Joyner joined Arizona Cardinals in 1994 as part of an impressive free-agent class signing that included another former Eagle defensive end Clyde Simmons. In his three year stay with the Cardinals, Joyner amassed a total of 149 total tackles including 5 forced fumbles. He also sacked the quarterback 12 times.

Joyner was named to the Pro-Bowl in the same season.

2. Edgerrin James

Running back Edgerrin James was one of the biggest free-agent names in 2006. Playing for the Indianapolis Colts, James had a terrific final season as he rushed 1,506 yards and made it to the endzone 13 times.

The Arizona Cardinals made a big splash and signed James to a four-year, $30 million contract.

With star receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald in the fold, the Cardinals needed a running back that could help open the field them, and James fitted the bill. In his first season, James rushed for 1,159 yards and scored six touchdowns. He then repeated his good play the following year by tallying 1,222 rushing yards and reached the endzone 7 times.

In his three seasons with Arizona, James has been productive, ending his tenure with the Cardinals with totals of 2, 895 rushing yards, 506 receiving yards on 74 receptions, with 16 rushing touchdowns.

1.Kurt Warner

kurt warner, larry fitzgerald

Was there ever any doubt that Kurt Warner will be on the top of the list?

After reaching the Super Bowl with the then St. Louis Rams in 2001, quarterback Kurt Warner was not able to repeat his success in 2002, and he was subsequently released. The New York Giants brought him in on a one year deal in 2004, but eventually loses the starting job to highly touted rookie Eli Manning. Warner, not wanting to be a backup, elected to become a free agent.

Arizona signed Warner in 2005 on a one year contract on a mere $4 million. His first season was one to forget, as he only played 10 games and posted a paltry 2-8 record. Despite the terrible year, the Cardinals chose to bring Warner back in what would be a move that will pay big dividends.

After two more subpar years, Warner eventually hit his stride and led Arizona to winning records in 2008 and 2009. The then-38-year old signal-caller will eventually lead the Cardinals to a Super Bowl appearance in 2009 where they will eventually fall short to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He didn’t put up terrific numbers, but Kurt Warner led the Arizona Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance in their franchise history. That feat puts him on the top.