Byron Leftwich agrees to terms, joins quarterback derby with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback Byron Leftwich has agreed to the terms of a two-year contract with the Bucs, filling the final quarterback spot on the roster while providing a challenge to Luke McCown in training camp.

Leftwich reportedly was offered a two-year deal to remain with the Super Bowl champion Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger's backup. The Bucs, however, are prepared to give him an opportunity to win the starting job.

Bucs coach Raheem Morris has said McCown would not be handed the job by default and vowed to increase competition at the position after the team signed McCown, 27, to a two-year contract in February.

Sunday's news is the strongest indication yet that quarterback is not a consideration for the Bucs' first-round pick in the draft April 25. Tampa Bay, which consistently has been linked to Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, holds the 19th overall choice.

Leftwich, 29, visited the Bucs on Thursday and had engaged in sincere conversations. But those talks ended without a deal, with indications from One Buc Place at the time pointing to a Leftwich signing being unlikely.

The Bucs did not comment Sunday, but Leftwich confirmed his agreement with Tampa Bay in a text message to NFL.com.

Leftwich played sparingly for the Steelers last season, passing for 303 yards with two touchdowns in five appearances. But he played extensively in his first four seasons. The 2003 first-round pick from Marshall has started 46 of his 54 games, most during a 31/2-year stint as Jacksonville's starter. After losing that job midway through the 2006 season, Leftwich has been largely invisible, spending a portion of 2007 with the Falcons before moving on to Pittsburgh last season.

Leftwich, 6 feet 5, 250 pounds, is considered a pocket passer with limited mobility, a stark contrast to the fleet-footed, athletically gifted McCown, who at 6-3, 212 pounds enjoys throwing on the run. But Leftwich has had some success, throwing for 54 touchdowns vs. 38 interceptions with a career 80.3 rating.

General manager Mark Dominik has said the plan is to take four quarterbacks to training camp, but the team almost certainly will keep just three. That could make veteran Brian Griese, 34, expendable. Or it's possible the Bucs could part with last year's fifth-round pick out of San Diego, Josh Johnson, though at 6-2, 201 pounds and 22 years old, he is said to have significant upside.

Byron Leftwich agrees to terms, joins quarterback derby with Tampa Bay Buccaneers 04/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 7:26am]

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