Leftwich, Batch still seek jobs
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The Steelers did not enter the bidding for Denver's Jay Cutler, but they do need a quarterback -- two of them, in fact.
With the draft just three weeks from tomorrow, the Steelers have only two quarterbacks under contract: starter Ben Roethlisberger, with his two Super Bowl rings, and Dennis Dixon, who spent almost all of his rookie season on the sideline.
The Steelers want to sign one or both of their veteran backups, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, both of whom are unrestricted free agents. Yet there seems to be no rush on either side to make a move.
That could change over the next few days.
Leftwich has been talking to one unnamed team other than the Steelers, who have told him they would like to sign him for another year. He has found little interest in him as a starting quarterback in the NFL. If he does not get that chance, he has said he would like to rejoin the Steelers. Leftwich has been working out in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Batch, who has been working out with the Steelers, also wishes to return, but like Leftwich, who has the same agent, he has received no contract offer yet from the team. Batch also has received little interest elsewhere.
In the meantime, Dixon, too, has been working out with the Steelers the past two weeks and hopes to make a leap from his rookie season.
"It's my time to go out and get a lot of reps," Dixon said. "I'm still learning, but I'm expected to know more and I'm willing to show them I'm ready."
The Steelers see Dixon as their backup quarterback eventually but perhaps not in 2009. Their goal would be to bring all four quarterbacks to camp.
"It would be great to have that kind of depth going into the season," said Kevin Colbert, the team's director of football operations. "Just as we found out last year, just because you go in with four healthy quarterbacks doesn't mean you'll come out with four of them healthy. So that is still a possibility. I think we'll see that in the next few weeks."
Batch and Leftwich must know that barring an injury, if each signs with the Steelers, one of them stands to be cut because the team wants to keep Dixon, and it's unlikely four will remain on the 53-man roster come September. If only one signs, the Steelers will sign a young quarterback after the draft to have a fourth arm for training camp.
Dixon remains a possibility as No. 2 depending on what happens with Batch and Leftwich and how Dixon develops. Dixon also could be used in different ways in his second season -- for example, a slash-type role that Kordell Stewart played in 1995 and '96.
"I wouldn't mind," Dixon said. "If my name was called to get on the field, whether it's as slash or drop-back, whatever, I'd be happy. If my name's called, I'm ready."
NOTE -- Oregon defensive tackle Ra'Shon Harris visited the Steelers yesterday. Harris, who is 6-4, 300 pounds, started one season at Oregon and is considered a mid- to late-round draft choice.
First Published April 3, 2009 12:00 am