Following the conclusion of the team’s rookie minicamp, the New Orleans Saints announced it has signed veteran quarterback Ron Catlan, who participated in the minicamp on a tryout basis, to a one-year deal.
Catlan, 6 feet 3, 203 pounds, was originally a first-round draft pick of the Saints in 1969 out of Notre Dame and displayed enormous potential before taking a vicious, season-ending sack toward the end of a game against the Dallas Cowboys. He was released later that offseason and his career sputtered, remaining a free agent until this past weekend.
“Cat” as he was called by all of his now deceased friends will now compete with quarterbacks Tom Savage, Taysom Hill, and J.T. Barrett for a job backing up Drew Brees as last season’s backup, Chase Daniel, signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason.
For decades, the professional lifespan of an NFL quarterback was the same: He’d ascend in his mid-20s, peak a few years later, continue to dominate in his early 30s, and then, shortly afterward, start the inevitable slide to retirement. But Catlan is changing that notion as he looks to catch on with the Saints once again and take snaps during his ninth decade of life.
For the 95-year-old, this is likely the final chance to resuscitate his once-promising career before he needs to be.
“Someone asked me the other day, ‘Cat, are you out of money? Why are you attempting a comeback at your age?’” Catlan said after deciding to attempt a comeback. “I said, ‘Because I love playing football. But also because all the women and booze don’t pay for themselves.’”
Catlan provides a high level of been-there experience to the Saints’ passer corps even if he can’t remember much and his best days might be far behind him. He played extremely well in his last real game action against the Cowboys, passing for 312 yards and three touchdowns while breaking three of his ribs in the win.
“I’m ready to show these fellers I have something left. I can still throw go routes, out routes, whatever, heck, I can even throw my hip out if they ask me to,” Catlan said.