The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason has started and it is that time of year unfortunately to start breaking down and analyzing the free agents as we head towards the start of free agency. We will knock out a few of these a week and will start with the unrestricted free agents first before moving to the restricted and exclusive rights free agents. First up on the list of unrestricted free agents is quarterback Charlie Batch.
Player: Charlie Batch
Experience: 14 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2012 Salary Cap Hit: $605,000.00
2012 Season Breakdown: Batch signed a one-year qualifying contract last season that came with a reduced salary cap hit. The Steelers long time veteran spent most of the season on the game day inactive list until Ben Roethlisberger went down with his shoulder and rib injury in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Batch backed up Byron Leftwich in the Week 11 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and started the next two games after Leftwich was sidelined with a rib injury.
In his first start against the Cleveland Browns Batch was 20-of-34 passing for 199 yards with no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. In that loss the Steelers turned the ball over 8 times in total. Batch looked very rusty in that game just as you would expect he would after not getting many reps with the first team offense all season in practice. He didn\'t look to be on the same page with his receivers at all.
In his second start against the Ravens the following week, Batch looked like a completely different quarterback. In that game he was 25-of-36 passing for 276 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He led the Steelers offense on a 12 play, 51 yard drive for the game winning field goal and ran off all the time on the clock in the process. The drive included him converting a big third down throw to Mike Wallace under heavy pressure. He stood in the pocket and took the hit like a champ. That win was perhaps the biggest one of Batch\'s career and it kept the Steelers division hopes alive with four games remaining and Roethlisberger returning from injury the following week. It looked as if Batch had saved the Steelers season in that game.
Batch lost his ability to throw the deep ball a long time ago, but his knowledge of the game, and his understanding of the offense, will never be questioned. His performance against the Ravens secured him the backup spot behind Roethlisberger for the remainder of the season and he certainly deserved it.
Free Agency Outlook: Batch has given no indication that he wants to retire as he heads off into the offseason. The Steelers, however, are not likely to put themselves in the same position in 2013 that they were in 2012 as it relates to having two older backup quarterbacks on the roster. They need to make sure that at least one of the two backups is younger and they will accomplish this either through free agency or the draft. The number three job next season could go to either Batch or Leftwich, but the chances that both will be brought back figures to be slim. Batch will not receive any attention in free agency so he must wait like he did last offseason to find out whether or not the Steelers want to bring him or Leftwich back on another one-year veteran qualifying contract for the minimum to serve as the third string quarterback. The Steelers could do worse than Batch as a number three so I expect that they will choose him over Leftwich once summer rolls around. That is of course if Batch doesn\'t decide to retire.
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