When Bruce Arians “retired” a large contingent of Steelers Nation reacted with relief.
Arians retirement lasted all of a week, and he just happened to land himself a spot as the offensive coordinator of the team that gets to select Andrew Luck. Now, apparently Arians has his eye on someone from the South Side to show Andrew Luck the ropes.
Mark Kabloy of the Tribune Review is citing league sources that indicate that Bruce Arians is trying to entice Byron Leftwhich to come to Indianapolis to help mentor his rookie quarterback (whether that signal caller turns out to be Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck.)
With 10 million in cap space the Colts could pay more than the Steelers, who are all but certain to offer Leftwich the NFL veteran minimum.
Should Lefwich Make the Switch?
Leftwich would be an interesting mentor for Luck/RG3. He was afterall a franchise quarterback for Jacksonville, having been drafted 7th overall in the 2003 draft. His stint in the spot light lasted less than four years and soon found himself on the waiver wire being asked to mop up the mess left in the wake of Michael Vick’s troubles with the law.
When Charlie Batch got injured in preseason in 2008, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert wasted little time bringing in veterans Daunte Culpepper and Byron Leftwich. The rules of the audition were clear: You’re here to back up Ben Roethlisberger. That’s it. Period.
Leftwich took the deal and got a Super Bowl ring for his troubles. After Super Bowl XLII Leftwich considered staying on in Pittsburgh, but opted for “greener” pastures in Tampa. Tampa had other plans, and Leftwich’s time as a starter lasted all of 3 games.
When Midgeville entered the vernacular of Steelers Nation, Mike Tomlin did not hesitate to bring Leftwich back and since that moment Tomlin has shown ever sign of anointing Leftwich as his official “number two.”
In Pittsburgh, Leftwich remains on a team whose Super Bowl most likely remains open. With the Colts, Leftwich will be with a team starting from almost zero and with little question as to who their signal call of the future is.
Would the Steelers be Better off if Arians did Poach Leftwich?
Byron Leftwich brings a lot to the backup quarterback position. He’s got 49 NFL starts to his name, a veteran presence, and an absolute rocket for an arm.
Bryon Leftwich is perhaps the only Steelers quarterback who has a hope of hitting Mike Wallace in full stride.
Mobility, however, is decidedly not one of Leftwich’s assets. Neither is durability. He has never played a full season. His stints in Jacksonville, Tampa and, if memory serves, Atlanta, all ended with him on IR. Leftwich spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve, and was unable to start the first 4 games of 2010 due to an injury in preseason.
The Steelers have a lot of reasons to like Leftwich, but wonder if Arians might be doing the Steelers a favor by taking Leftwich off their hands and forcing Mike Tomlin to develop or find a more durable back up quarterback.
On the flip side, injuries can be streaky. For several years running the Steelers have wanted to keep Charlie Batch off the roster – who broke his wrist while playing just three downs in 2009 – because he was brittle.
Both times injuries to younger players, in the form of Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, forced the Steelers to keep Batch on the roster, and both times Batch delivered.