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Monday, September 2, 2013
The case for Seneca Wallace

By Rob Demovsky


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In the NFL, so often coaches and general managers rely on the familiar.

Such is the case with 33-year-old Seneca Wallace, who, as Ed Werder first reported Monday morning, was signed to be the Green Bay Packers’ newest backup quarterback.

Take a look at Wallace’s career path. In 2003, he was a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who at the time had Mike Holmgren as their coach and general manager. Wallace had an unusual career in Seattle, where sometimes he played receiver when he wasn’t needed at quarterback. When he did play quarterback, he went 5-9 as a starter, with his most extensive playing time coming in 2008 after Matt Hasselbeck sustained a knee injury. Wallace started eight games that season, going 3-5.

In 2010, Wallace was traded to Cleveland, where Holmgren had become the Browns' president only a few months earlier. Wallace started seven games over the next two seasons, but won just one of them.

Wallace hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since 2011 and his most recent stint with an NFL team was a week-long stay with the San Francisco 49ers, which ended last week in bizarre fashion, with coach Jim Harbaugh saying Wallace would retire and Wallace later denying that.

Which brings us back to the Packers, whose general manager, Ted Thompson, was Holmgren’s top personnel man in Seattle from 2000 to '04. So Thompson not only knows Wallace well but has seen him play in an offense that is similar to what Packers coach Mike McCarthy runs.

Still, familiarity doesn’t always breed success. There’s been little in Wallace’s history to suggest he could keep the Packers afloat in a playoff race if something happened to Aaron Rodgers.

Thompson has been in a scramble mode with his backup quarterbacks ever since he signed Vince Young on Aug. 5 after Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman got off to shaky starts to training camp. Thompson released Harrell on Aug. 24 and Young on Saturday. The Packers briefly had Coleman as the only quarterback behind Rodgers. To make room for Wallace, the Packers released Coleman.

With Wallace, the Packers now expect to have two quarterbacks with ties to the 49ers, their Week 1 opponent. They plan to sign Scott Tolzien, who was released by San Francisco last week, to their practice squad.

But for those who think the Packers signed Wallace to help with preparation for the 49ers, it should be noted that he spent only a week there this summer, and as a vested NFL veteran, the Packers would be on the hook for his entire 2013 base salary (likely the league minimum) if he’s on the Week 1 roster.