Steelers 2009 Free Agent Focus: Charlie Batch

Charlie Batch entered the NFL as the Detroit Lion’s second round draft pick out of Eastern Michigan in 1998. Over four seasons he started 48 games for the Lions, until a variety of factors led Detroit to cut him in June of 2002. The Steelers did not hesitate to bring this Homestead native back to Pittsburgh.

Batch served as the third string quarterback throughout the 2002 season but did not play and only saw spot duty in 2003. After spending all of 2004 on injured reserve he was actually cut the day before the Steelers season opener in 2005, but only to rejoin the team the following Monday.

The Steelers gamble paid off. Batch entered the season as the Steelers third string quarterback, but became Ben’s primary back up on the heels of ineffective play by Tommy Maddox. Rusty in his first start against Green Bay, Batch nonetheless led the team to victory in a game where the Steelers had neither Jerome Bettis nor Willie Parker. His play improved against Cleveland, only to see Batch break a finger before the second half.

Batch started one game and threw passes in five others in 2006 and played well. He also started the final game of 2007. He broke his collar bone in the 2008 preseason, and spent the entire year on injured reserve.

Assessment of Charlie Batch

Charlie Batch is a solid number two quarterback, a consummate team player, and a positive force on the locker room. He is also a leader off the field, providing unconditional support for Ben Roethlisberger, and lending both his name and his energy to efforts to help Pittsburgh’s under privileged youth. When Batch first came to the Steelers, both sides figured it would be a short term gig, as they both saw Batch as a starting caliber quarterback.

Yet Charlie Batch has been an excellent fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Batch appears very happy with his role.

What the Steelers Should to with Charlie Batch

This one should be simple, but it does have the potential to get tricky. Bryon Leftwich is most likely going to seek and should receive and shot at starting some where. If that happens, then the Steelers have every reason to bring Batch back.

Most Likely Scenario for the Steelers and Charlie Batch

Football realpolitik demands that the Steelers at least try to bring Leftwich back as Ben’s back up. Leftwich is planning to shop his services around, but openly considering offers to stay with the Steelers. The Steelers run a little bit of a risk here, because if talks with Leftwich go beyond the “thanks but no thanks” stage, Batch could decide to look elsewhere, and Leftwich could ultimately sign with someone else.

Batch has a lot of support inside the Steelers organization, so it’s an unlikely hypothetical scenario, but one that bears mentioning.

In all likelihood, Leftwich will find another opportunity, and Batch will be back as Ben’s back up in 2009.

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