April 15, 2013

Saints Add QB Wallace

The Saints have signed veteran QB Seneca Wallace, one of the more exciting players of the 2002 college football season and a backup for the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks since.

Wallace, who will 33 in August, drew attention from the Seahawks and Raiders this offseason, but those teams opted not to sign him.  He has now joined the Saints on a one-year contract expected to be at the veteran minimum.

The former Iowa State Cyclone famously made "the run" in 2002 when then-11th ranked Iowa State played Texas Tech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7gPOl_F8HQ.

Wallace is expected to compete with Luke McCown for the backup quarterback job behind Drew Brees, but also to give the Saints practice experience against speedy running quarterbacks.  The Saints will face several mobile quarterbacks in 2013, including Cam Newton twice, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson.

Wallace, 5'11", 205, ran a 4.56 at the 2003 NFL combine with a 38" vertical.  Because of his speed and athleticism, he was asked by many teams to switch to wide receiver, as Antwaan Randle-El and Hines Ward had done recently at the time.  But Wallace refused and would continue to work out and consider himself a quarterback first, and would draw heat from many analysts for refusing to switch positions.

After his career at Iowa State was over, Wallace was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2003 draft.  As a rookie, Wallace backed up QB Matt Hasselbeck as the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl.  Wallace threw his first touchdown in a meaningless Week 16 game in Green Bay, and in the NFC Championship game, caught a first quarter pass for 28 yards to set up a Jerramy Stevens touchdown catch from Hasselbeck.

In his second season, Wallace started four games for the Seahawks in place of injured Hasselbeck, completing 58% of his passes, threw 8 TD's and 7 interceptions while rushing 12 times for 122 yards in eight appearances in his second season.

Overall, Wallace has started 21 games in seven seasons, including eight with the Seahawks when he started the latter half of the 2008 season and led Seattle to a 3-5 record.  His completion percentage was only 58.4% as he completed 141/242 passes for 1532 yards, 11 touchdowns but only three interceptions, while minimizing his rushing attempts to only 16 that season.  In those 21 starts, Wallace has only six victories, in part because he collected a 1-6 record as a sub for poor Cleveland teams.

Wallace spent 2010 and 2011 as backup for the Browns, where he ended up starting seven games off the bench.  His last game was a brutal display against the Steelers on January 1, 2012 in Week 16, when Wallace completed 16 of 41 passes for 177 yards and an interception for the 4-12 Browns.

Though Wallace has never started against the Saints, in his one appearance against New Orleans in Seattle, he gained 29 yards on a reception from Hasselbeck late in the game.

UPDATE: Because only the top 51 contracts on a team at any time count towards the salary cap, the Saints' cap space is unchanged Wallace's base-minimum veteran one-year contract, which will pay him $840k but will only count $555k for cap purposes.

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