FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — After a disappointing preseason, the Falcons cut backup quarterback Chris Redman and signed Luke McCown on Tuesday. Redman was one of the team’s elder statesmen, having joined the organization in the disastrous 2007.
Redman, 35, was brought out of retirement — he was selling insurance — by coach Bobby Petrino, as both had ties to the University of Louisville. Redman played well as a starter that season during which Michael Vick pleaded guilty to federal dog-fighting-related charges. Redman stayed on the next season when Mike Smith took over as coach.
Redman’s locker was right next to Matt Ryan’s and the two became friends and golf buddies. Redman helped to mentor the younger Ryan.
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However, Redman had a poor preseason in new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s system. In McCown, the Falcons acquired a quarterback who played the last few seasons in Jacksonville under Koetter, who was the Jaguars offensive coordinator.
In three preseason games, Redman’s highest rating was 71.1 against Miami last Friday. In Koetter’s offense, the quarterback will have to serve as more of the engine, as opposed to former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey’s offense in which Redman could act more as a game-manager, calling the right play at the line of scrimmage and handing the ball to Michael Turner in a power-running scheme.
Redman started two games in 2009 and playing most of a third when Ryan went down with a turf toe injury. Redman went 1-2 in those games, going 23-for-41 for 243 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
In a loss to Philadelphia, in which the Falcons were missing several key offensive starters injured, Redman went 21-for-44 for 235 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Against eventual Super Bowl winner New Orleans, Redman fell just short of rallying the Falcons in the final minutes, being foiled on a fourth-down play. He went 23-for-34 for for 303 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Saints.
In the Falcons’ 2007 season finale, Redman earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, throwing for 251 yards and four touchdowns with Emmitt Thomas serving as interim head coach after Petrino bolted in midseason for the University of Arkansas.
Redman signed a new contract in March and was set to earn $825,000 this season. His previous contract, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was for two years and $5.6 million.
In August, FOXSports.com’s Peter Schrager had ranked Redman No. 21 among NFL backups. “I’m not sure whether he could lead this team to the playoffs, or dare I suggest it, Falcons fans — actually win a playoff game — but the guy’s got chops. He’s respected and capable,” Schrager wrote.
McCown, 31, comes to the Falcons one day after New Orleans released him. He played only in the Saints’ first preseason game against New England, completing 9-of-16 passes for 86 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, but was sacked twice and finished with a 71.4 rating.
Previously, he had spent three seasons in Jacksonville, starting two games last season. In 2011, he went 30-for-56 for 296 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions on what was the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense and 32nd-ranked passing offense.
McCown’s best season was 2007 when he played five games for Tampa Bay, throwing for 1,009 yards, completing 67.6 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions.