Yesterday, Leftwich met with the Bucs -- a club in desperate need of a quarterback -- but left Tampa without signing a contract. And today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette writes that the Steelers, where Leftwich ably backed up Ben Roethlisberger during last year's Super Bowl run, are moving quickly to re-sign him.
The Steelers issued a contract offer this week to ... Leftwich. ... The two-year offer from the Steelers is close to minimum wage for Leftwich, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The minimum for him would be $620,000 in 2009 and $755,000 in '10.Apparently, Pittsburgh also wants to re-sign longtime backup Charlie Batch, who missed last season with a broken clavicle. This means that the team either thinks '08 fifth-rounder Dennis Dixon is expendable (he was the third-team QB as a rookie), or that his role will expand in '09. I'm leaning toward the latter, but that's purely speculative.
As for why Leftwich is still without a team seven weeks into free agency, NFL Films' Greg Cosell has the short answer: he plays too slowly.
Everything he does -- from his drop away from the center, to his plant and set in the pocket, to his delivery throwing the ball -- simply takes too long. It's too deliberate, too lengthy. ...And that explains a lot, including why Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio cut Leftwich just before the 2007 season and gave the job to David Garrard (for now, anyway).
As a result, you must consistently secure the pocket with as many blockers as you can, limiting what you can do with receivers and routes. That puts a heavy burden on an offensive play-caller.
But even if Leftwich's days as an NFL starter are behind him, he proved invaluable to the Steelers last season. He had impressive showings against the Redskins and the Browns (both Pittsburgh victories), and is proof that a good backup is almost as important as a great starter. Now it's just a matter of where Leftwich lands for '09.