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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs consider keeping all four QBs to start the season



Barring some unexpected interest in their players from another team, the Bucs are considering keeping all four quarterbacks on their roster to start the regular season.

Tampa Bay has attempted to solicit interest in every quarterback except first-round pick Josh Freeman.
In fact, the Bucs remain undecided on whether to name Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown their starting quarterback for the Sept. 13 season opener against Dallas.

Following Thursday night's 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins, in which Leftwich was inconsistent and McCown was completely ineffective, the team is considering waiting until after Friday's preseason finale against the Texans before naming a starter.

But regardless of the outcome, the Bucs could begin a second straight season with four quarterbacks on the roster.

Why? It's simple. The Bucs could trade second-year pro Josh Johnson, but the most they would probably fetch is a sixth-round pick.

Look a year into the future and consider the Bucs' plans at quarterback. The intention is to turn the job over to Freeman. In that scenario, the Bucs would need a veteran backup -- most likely Leftwich or McCown.

Then they would need a young, developmental quarterback for the third inactive QB position. To acquire one, they would use to need a low-round pick like the one they would get for Johnson. But the Bucs already like Johnson and have two years invested in him, so there's no reason to trade a quarterback they already like for one they don't know a year from now.

Coach Raheem Morris has said it's unlikely the team would keep four quarterbacks. But then, he also said he would name a starting quarterback heading into the third preseason game.

And let's face it. The 53rd player on the Bucs roster is going to be a player they can slip through waivers and sign back on their practice squad -- a player like tackle Demar Dotson or cornerback Kyle Arrington.

Johnson would never clear waivers. Too many teams -- like the 49ers and Ravens -- liked him coming out of the draft. There's been little or no interest in Leftwich and McCown throughout the league.

The longer this QB quandry plays out, the more likely it is that the Bucs just keep all four to start the year and hope that another team suffers an injury at that position.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:39pm]


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