Troy Smith's bid to become only the second Heisman Trophy winner to play for the Steelers -- and to unseat an incumbent backup quarterback in the process -- came to an abrupt end Monday when he was released.
Smith signed a reserve/future contract in January and had an outside chance to supplant longtime backups Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich, but the veteran duo appears to be the choice to back up starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Batch and Leftwich were signed to one-year contracts in April, while another backup, Dennis Dixon, was not re-signed this spring as an unrestricted free agent.
Dixon has not yet signed with another team.
Jerrod Johnson, a quarterback from Texas A&M, also is on the roster but is not expected to challenge Batch or Leftwich. Johnson was signed out of college by Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and was cut midway through training camp last year.
The Steelers signed Johnson to a reserve/future contract in January.
The 2006 Heisman-winning quarterback from Ohio State, Smith, 27, was a fifth-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens in 2007.
That season, he lead the Ravens to a 27-21 victory against the Steelers in Baltimore, giving him the distinction of being the only rookie quarterback to start and win against the Steelers since Dick LeBeau returned to be the defensive coordinator in '04.
A five-year NFL veteran, Smith had eight career starts and played in 20 games.
He played with Baltimore through the '09 season, then spent '10 with the San Francisco 49ers.
Last season, he played with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.
Before Smith's attempt, only Notre Dame halfback Johnny Lattner, the 1953 Heisman winner, made a Steelers roster. He was a first-round draft choice in 1954 and played one season for the Steelers.
First Published June 26, 2012 12:00 AM