Continuing on with our with our player by player look at the Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Free Agents as we get closer to the beginning of the 2012 free agency period. We have started our analysis of the Steelers unrestricted free agents and we now move forward with the unrestricted group by taking a look at quarterback Byron Leftwich. Check the links at the bottom of the post to see the other Steelers free agents that we have already covered.
Player: Byron Leftwich
Experience: 9 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2011 Salary Cap Hit: $2,000,000.00
2011 Season Breakdown: For the second season in a row there really is no season to break down for Leftwich as he spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve due to a broken left arm that he suffered in the Steelers third preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Leftwich also missed most of the 2010 season due to an MCL injury to his left knee that he suffered in the Steelers preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers, but was able to get some playing time in the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns that year. He was 5 of 7 in that game with 42 yards passing and was sacked twice.
Leftwich turned 32 years of age this past January and there are certainly concerns in regards to him being injury prone moving forward. There has been no talk of him wanting to retire and he most surely would like to return to the Steelers to back up Ben Roethlisberger again. Fellow veteran quarterback Charlie Batch is also an unrestricted free agent as well as is Dennis Dixon, who made it clear last offseason that he wanted to go elsewhere to compete for a starting job. Batch on the other hand has given no indications of wanting to retire either.
One would assume that Leftwich still has his arm strength and is now fully recovered from the surgery on his non throwing arm.
Free Agency Outlook: The Steelers do not have any experienced depth right now behind Roethlisberger and it looks likely that either Leftwich or Batch will be brought back him up. It could even be both as the Steelers will not have money to add another veteran with experience. They did sign former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith to a futures contract this offseason, but he will have his work cut out even making the roster and at best he his third string material. The wild card in this whole situation is new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, as he might not consider either Leftwich or Batch as a fit in whatever type offense he intends to run. The Steelers will have plenty of time to make a decision on Leftwich as he does not figure to get any attention during the free agency period. The Steelers also need to sort out their salary cap woes first and will not have room for Leftwich if he ask for much more than the veteran minimum. He would fit best on a veteran qualifying contract that would come with a reduced cap hit and that is really what I see in his future. I expect him to stay on the free agency sidelines for quite a while, but I think he will be back as the #2 quarterback when the smoke all clears.
Other 2012 Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis Mike Wallace – Restricted Free Agent Keenan Lewis – Restricted Free Agent Doug Legursky – Restricted Free Agent Ramon Foster – Restricted Free Agent David Johnson – Restricted Free Agent Ryan Mundy – Restricted Free Agent Jamon Meredith – Restricted Free Agent Jerricho Cotchery – Unestricted Free Agent Max Starks – Unestricted Free Agent Mewelde Moore – Unestricted Free Agent Charlie Batch – Unestricted Free Agent Dennis Dixon – Unestricted Free Agent
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I really hope they go with Batch over Leftwich. But, Tomlin has a man crush on Leftwich and seems to have it in for Batch.
I wouldn’t mind Leftwich coming back at or near veteran minimum. I think Dixon should be allowed to go, and as much as I like Charlie Batch I don’t think it’s good for the team to keep him around. Let him walk, and in case it really hits the fan during the season, keep his number in your phone book. I think it would be a good idea to bring in a young, cheap backup who you can teach the system, maybe develop into trade bait or maybe just keep as a long term backup. Kellen Moore in the 7th round of the draft seems like a nice fit to me.
But come on, tell us what we really want to know. Has Leftwich spoken with Haley yet?
I hope they keep Leftwich around. He is a better QB than Batch, but who would have thought that Charlie would hold up better than Leftwich for the past two seasons?
Kevin, he really hasn’t been though. Their numbers are about equal, but Leftwich hasn’t been healthy, and when he has, he hasn’t won a game since 2006. Batch both knows, and is better suited to, our offensive system (at least before Haley puts his changes in, but I can’t imagine them getting away from emphasizing QB mobility). And Batch will likely sign cheaper as well.
Letting Batch sit by the phone is a distinct possibility as well, since he isn’t going anywhere else.
I like Moore too, but I think it will take a 6th to get him, possibly a 5th if there is a run on QBs. He has the tools though to be a decent backup at minimum.
“back as the # 2 quarterback when the smoke clears” oh I hope not
Yes I agree Tomlin seems to have a man crush on Leftwich and have it in for Batch…. case in point Batch has been johnny on the spot for the Steelers and was almost gone the last 2 years in favor of the immobile human windmill…yes Leftwich has a stronger arm but in terms of being an overall quarterback Batch has it over Leftwich
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