Yesterday the Steelers sent a 7th round pick to the Buccaneers for our old friend Byron Leftwich. Was it a good deal? Sure it was as you know what you are getting in Leftwich and the Steelers basically are giving back a 7th round compensatory pick they received when they lost him via free agency after the 2008 season so to speak.
What the trade really reveals though is several things. First, the Steelers plan to be without Ben Roethlisberger for an extended amount of time. 4-6 games according to ESPN reports this morning at least. Also you still can not rule out a trade still. While not likely the longer the suspension, it is still possible. None of this should be earth shattering to any member of Steeler Nation.
Secondly, the confidence the team has in Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch is not high. It is obvious now. Dixon will be given every shot in my opinion to compete for the starting gig, but Leftwich will be over his shoulder every minute. Charlie Batch has a better shot of playing gunner on special teams than he does starting another meaningful game for the Steelers behind center. I could think of worse #3 quarterbacks though.
If Roethlisberger is indeed kept and only suspended, he will start the season on the reserve/suspended list and will not count against a 53 man roster spot. If the organization had faith in Batch and Dixon, they could just pick up a much cheaper option or undrafted free agent to work as a #3 and practice body. Dixon is also going into the final year of his contract as well this season. With all that has gone on with Big Ben, Dixon contract talks would be more prominent if the organization saw him as a longer term option. Every game Dixon does start and wins now, would mean a higher price tag going forward. Not Roethlisberger money mind you, but he will become a commodity around the league and could test free agency. If the Steelers saw him as even a long term #2 guy, I would think we would hear more praise and support as well.
Leftwich is what he is. He is not Roethlisberger, but is also not Dixon or Batch. He can run the Steelers offense and has the experience. If he can not beat out Dixon though, it could be a long season that not even Big Ben could save if he misses 6 games. Something tells me though that the 4 quarterbacks on the roster will not be the same 4 at the start of the season. Read into that what you want.