Saints report card: Did New Orleans stumble upon a formula for success last week? _lowres

Associated Press photo by Mike McCarn -- Quarterback Luke McCown executed the Saints' game plan against the Panthers almost perfectly Saturday, but a few mistakes spread around the team helped give Carolina the win.

Backup quarterback Luke McCown signed a two-year deal to remain with the Saints, according to his agent, Mike McCartney.

A source told The Advocate that McCown’s deal is worth $3 million, with a $500,000 signing bonus that allows McCown to make $1.5 million each year.

McCown, who has been with the team for the past three seasons, visited Indianapolis on Thursday before deciding to return to New Orleans.

The veteran quarterback, who will be 35 when the season starts, proved his worth last season by nearly leading the Saints to a win over Carolina in the third week of the season.

With Drew Brees out because an inflamed rotator cuff, McCown completed 31-of-38 passes for 310 yards, and a final-drive throw to the end zone was picked off on an acrobatic play by Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.

McCown’s value as Brees’ backup is considerable, and with McCown coming back on a two-year deal, all eyes will turn to 2015 third-round pick Garrett Grayson, the rookie who was the No. 3 quarterback behind Brees and McCown last season.

Deferred savings

New Orleans officially released Brandon Browner on Thursday and designated the veteran cornerback as a post-June 1 cut, according to the NFL’s transactions wire.

By designating Browner as a June 1 cut, the Saints spread the cap charge over two seasons, rather than taking the entire hit in 2016.

But New Orleans also will not get immediate cap relief, because the contract remains on the books until after June 1, when the Saints will save $2.25 million against the cap.

New Orleans opened the new league year Wednesday with less than $10 million in cap space, and after a flurry of moves, the Saints now have $5.718 million in cap space available heading into the rest of free agency.

Browner, the Saints’ big-money offseason signing last year, bid farewell to New Orleans during Super Bowl week, but the Saints had to keep his contract on the books until the new league year to designate him a post-June 1 cut.

Running ’round

The Saints re-signed running back Travaris Cadet on Thursday.

Cadet, who spent part of the year with New England and San Francisco, before returning to New Orleans, was highly productive after C.J. Spiller was put on injured reserve.

Brought back to the team where he initially made his name as an undrafted player out of Appalachian State, Cadet played 24 and 30 snaps in the final two games, more than Spiller had taken in all but one game during the season.

Cadet instantly took over a key role in the Saints’ passing offense in the final two games, catching three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville and six passes for 77 yards against Atlanta.

But the door also closed on another running back returning in New Orleans. After not being tendered an offer by the Saints, Khiry Robinson agreed to terms with the New York Jets, according to a source.

In New York, he’ll join a backfield that also contains Matt Forte and Bilal Powell.

Robinson signed with the Saints as an undrafted player in 2013. He has rushed for 766 yards and eight touchdowns over the past three seasons. He rushed for 180 yards on 56 carries last season through eight games before suffering a fractured tibia that placed him on injured reserve.

Safety dance

New Orleans has indicated that the Saints would like to bring back veteran safety Rafael Bush, a source told The Advocate, but Bush is visiting the Detroit Lions on Friday.

Bush, an unrestricted free agent who will be 29 when the season begins, provides valuable experience as a third safety who can fill in for either Kenny Vaccaro or Jairus Byrd.

But his past two seasons have been cut short by injury. Bush started seven games in 2014 and made a career-high 56 tackles, but a broken leg in November limited him to 10 games.

Bush responded by rehabbing and opening the 2015 season as the starting free safety with Byrd still on the mend, but he tore a pectoral muscle in the season-opener, ending his season prematurely.

If the Lions want to sign Bush, Detroit has the ammunition, with more than $36 million in cap space at the start of Thursday.