Steelers free agency primer: QBs

As the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers figure to be raided in free agency. It's just a fact of life in today's NFL.

As the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers figure to be raided in free agency. It's just a fact of life in today's NFL.

The Steelers have 13 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents when the signing period opens Feb. 27. Over the next few weeks, we'll look at the Steelers position-by-position as they head into the period and what direction they may go.

Today: The quarterbacks.

With Ben Roethlisberger coming off his second Super Bowl victory, he's firmly entrenched not only as the Steelers' starter, but as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

But veteran backups Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, who spent the 2008 season on injured reserve, will both be unrestricted free agents, leaving only 2008 rookie Dennis Dixon behind Roethlisberger.

Leftwich signed with the Steelers when Batch was injured in the Steelers' preseason opener and resurrected his career while also picking up a Super Bowl ring along the way.

He played well enough in relief of Roethlisberger to show teams that he can still be an impact player in the NFL and there should be more than one suitor for his services in 2009.

He'll be playing elsewhere in 2009, with Chicago being his most likely destination.

The 34-year-old Batch was a constant around the Steelers facilities throughout the season, going to practice and games despite being on injured reserve with a broken collar bone.

He's the perfect backup, somebody who's comfortable in his role and is able to step in and win a game or two if needed. It's likely the Pittsburgh native comes back for at least one more season, though he could be displaced by the promising Dixon as the No. 2 quarterback.

If, for some reason, Batch decides instead to retire, the Steelers could look for another veteran to back up Roethlisberger.

Chris Simms, who spent 2008 with Tennessee, the Giants' David Carr, or Denver's Patrick Ramsey could fill in for Roethlisberger in a pinch. But Batch is expected to be back.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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