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Can anyone explain what's going on with the Steelers' backup quarterback situation? Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert say the team wants to retain both Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, but I think that has little chance of actually happening, unless they plan on ending the Dennis Dixon Era before it ever got off the ground. Four QBs on an NFL roster is a luxury that just isn't normally seen these days, although I suppose anything's possible. So what's the latest?

Well, Leftwich, who's been collecting dust in free agency, finally talked with a team other than the defending Super Bowl champs, visiting with the Washington Redskins on Friday. Apparently the team liked what they saw and heard, because a contract is being discussed.

The Redskins just lost out in the Jay Cutler Sweepstakes, which means Jason Campbell should return as the starter, barring an unexpected move. After Campbell, the Skins have 14-year veteran Todd Collins and 2008 draft pick Colt Brennan waiting in the wings, but neither is anything more than a backup at this point. Leftwich would seem to be an upgrade over those two, but then again, he would appear to be an upgrade over a number of QBs who are currently on NFL rosters while he is not. It's a curious case.

To watch the fall of Leftwich stock has been perplexing. As a much-heralded QB at Marshall, he came into the league as the seventh overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003. Since then, it's been a rocky career to say the least, losing his job to David Garrard and getting released by the Jaguars on the eve of the 2007 season. He quickly signed with the Atlanta Falcons, who at the time were knee-deep in the Michael Vick mess at their quarterback position, and that didn't seem to work out, either. He was waiting by the phone when Batch went down in August of 2008 and beat out Daunte Culpepper for the Steeler gig, with a 104 QB rating in regular season spot duty.

As we all know, Leftwich has a cannon for an arm but is quite immobile, so it's important (but not totally necessary, as seen this year) to put him behind a capable offensive line. On the other hand, he compensates with a quick release and delivery, as he normally got rid of the ball promptly. To me, he seemed more than capable to be a second-string NFL quarterback.

While the Steelers insist that they want both men back, they haven't made a contract offer to either. To the best of my knowledge and research, no one has talked to Batch, who came into the league in 1998 and has been a Steeler since 2002.

So here we sit in early April, and the Steelers have just two quarterbacks under contract: Ben Roethlisberger and Dixon. I wish I knew their line of thinking in this instance, but to be totally honest, I'm at a loss.

Steelers backup QB Leftwich in talks with Redskins [PG]

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BURGH08 said...

"On the other hand, he compensates with a quick release and delivery, as he normally got rid of the ball promptly."

I agree he got rid of the ball promptly, but what I was surprised after watching him play here enough was how decisive he was, and quick to read what was open.

Of course his reputation is with that long delivery that it gives the defense a chance to play on the ball. After watching him I don't think that's an accurate reflection on him.

Unknown said...

He READS quickly. He GETS RID OF THE BALL quickly, but he has a VERY SLOW release and delivery. In fact, its his biggest flaw.

If he was a starter, most defenses would put their DBs deep and wait for that long throwing motion to jump routes and such. He needs to be behind a good line with quick reads and a good running game, or he's an INT machine...

BURGH08 said...

Don't get me wrong-I wouldn't be excited for him to be a full time starter on my NFL team. There was a reason he was available as late as he was last year.

That said, I think he is more than serviceable as a backup, and I also think he was able to get rid of the ball quicker from the limited time I saw him last year.

This is also a league that has plenty of starting QB's that he could at least compete with, if not beat out.

That may say more about the league though.

Unknown said...

Additionally, Batch has had injury issues in the past, and getting older is not going make him any less fragile. I can only presume Leftwich is asking for too much money. He ssems like the right choice for backup quarterback.

Kyle Chrise said...

you gotta be wary of that windup. Deep DBs are gonna see it a million miles away. plus he throws too hard for receivers often times, even in short yardage situations. Seeing balls rifle off the hands of Hines and Holmes may be a reason he's still not on a roster. But i hope he makes it back to pittsburgh