The New Orleans Saints agreed to terms with Quarterback Luke McCown on a one-year deal Wednesday, which will see the 32 year old return for a 2nd season in Black and Gold. McCown will compete with rising 2nd year pro Ryan Griffin for the backup Quarterback spot behind Drew Brees. The veteran has completed 184 passes for 2,035 yards with nine touchdowns and fourteen interceptions in his career.
McCown may not be rolling in the dough like big brother Josh, who signed a two-year $10 million contract with NFC South rivals Tampa Bay earlier this month, but he will now have the chance to stake his claim as Drew Brees's understudy for the 2nd straight year. In fact,the younger McCown's deal is probably much closer to, if not at the veteran's minimum. With the Saints continuing to operate on a tight budget, they were unlikely to try and bring in one of the more heralded available options to backup Brees.
The Saints are McCown's 5th team, having entered the league with Cleveland in 2004. A 4th round pick out of Louisiana Tech, McCown spent just one season with the Browns before being traded to Tampa Bay, where he would spend the next four seasons, mostly as a backup. Ironically, one of his best performances in action came against the Saints in week 13 of the 2007 season when he threw for over 300 yards with two scores in a 27-23 win over New Orleans. Luke McCown attempts a pass during a 2013 preseason game vs. Kansas City.
He was then dealt to Jacksonville, where he would spend the next three seasons, again, mostly operating as a backup. However, following the release of David Garrard prior to the 2011 season, McCown became the Jaguars' starter. Unfortunately for McCown, this did not last long as he was ultimatley replaced by rookie Blaine Gabbert following an underwhelming display in September.
McCown's first stop in New Orleans came in 2012, when he was signed in the offseason to compete for the backup Quarterback spot. Unable to beat out Chase Daniel, he was released in August of that year and landed in Atlanta. As a Falcon, he backed up Matt Ryan and made two appearances in mop-up duty.
In the summer of 2013, McCown got a second chance in New Orleans. Following Chase Daniel's departure to Kansas City, McCown was once again brought in to provide depth and insurance behind Brees. Following a solid preseason in which he beat out fellow veteran Seneca Wallace, he was granted a place on the team's 53 man roster. He would go on to attempt just one pass, and spent the majority of his time as the holder for Kickers Garrett Hartley and Shayne Graham.
Ryan Griffin spent much of the season as the Saints' practice squad signal caller, but was promoted to the active roster in October with several Quarterback-needy teams reportedly considering a swoop for the former Tulane standout. By promoting him, the Saints insured he would remain their property, which will once again see he and McCown engage in a summer battle to backup Brees.
While the signing won't set off bells and whistles around the league, Luke McCown has experience in the Saints' system and also served as the team's holder in 2013. He was linked with Detroit this offseason, likely due to his association with the Lions' new Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, who spent the last several years as the Saints' Quarterbacks coach. With his deal in place, McCown will now focus on the ensuing battle with Griffin, who the team remains high on as evidenced by the transaction which saw him promoted to the active roster last season. While McCown may not have the upside of the younger Griffin, his experience and knowledge will serve him and the Saints well heading into 2014.