The Saints signed free agent quarterback Seneca Wallace to a one-year contract today, a few weeks after signing free agent quarterback Luke McCown. On the surface, it seems Wallace should have a leg up on McCown in the battle to back up entrenched starter Drew Brees, despite McCown’s familiarity with the Saints’ offensive system. McCown was in training camp with the Saints last year and ended up backing up Matt Ryan in Atlanta.
Looking at career stats, Wallace has a much stronger body of work. He has started games in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns since 2005. Wallace was out of football last season after being cut by the Browns in training camp. During his 10 NFL seasons, Wallace has completed 59 percent of his passes and thrown for 4,808 yards and 31 touchdowns. The most games he played in during a season was 13 for the Seahawks in 2009.
McCown, serving as Ryan’s backup, didn’t take a snap last season either. During his 10 year career with Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Atlanta, the former Louisiana Tech star has completed 58 percent of his passes and thrown for 2,035 yards and 9 touchdowns.
While both quarterbacks are capable of running, Wallace has run twice as much as McCown during his career and could help prepare the Saints to face athletic, read-option quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson next season. Newton and Kaepernick gave the Saints fits in 2012 (along with Robert Griffin III) and Wilson is certainly capable of joining the duo in frustrating the Saints this season. Wilson and Wallace are the same height (5’11) and both were drafted by the Seahawks in the mid-rounds (Wilson 3rd, Wallace 4th).
McCown is 31 and Wallace is 32, so “youth” won’t be a factor in the backup battle, barring another quarterback signing. I like the Wallace signing because he gives the Saints more options if Drew Brees goes down.
If the Saints have their way, neither McCown nor Wallace will see the field in 2013 as the team sets its sights on a return to the playoffs behind a healthy Drew Brees.