Bruce Arians will have a franchise quarterback to work with in Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III within a few weeks, but that hasn’t prevented him for taking a run at veteran free agent quarterback Byron Leftwich.
Per a league source, the Indianapolis Colts, headed by Arians, are pursuing Leftwich to help teach Luck or Griffin the offensive scheme Arians brings with him after five years as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
Leftwich, 32, spent three years with the Steelers from 2008 and again in 2010-11 under Arians. Leftwich is considered a student of the game and an excellent teacher, which is what is attractive to Arians.
Leftwich is an unrestricted free agent and would like to return to the Steelers. The Steelers also want Leftwich to return to backup Ben Roethlisberger, however, the Steelers are only about $6 million under the salary cap and still need to address the wide receiver and running back positions in free agency, lock up receiver Mike Wallace long term and sign their draft picks.
Still, Leftwich might not cost the Steelers a lot. The veteran minimum for Leftwich would be $825,000, but would only cost $540,000 against the Steelers’ cap. The Colts could offer Leftwich significantly more money as they are reportedly $10.6 million under the cap as of March 30.
Also, Leftwich could have a better chance of seeing playing time if he signs with the Colts even though the organization would’ve drafted a quarterback with the top overall pick and also traded for Drew Stanton within a month.
Leftwich has played in only six games for the Steelers in three years. He missed all of last year with a broken arm he suffered during the preseason. He was supposed to start for the suspended Roethlisberger in 2010, but hurt his knee in the final preseason game.
Leftwich, the seventh overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003, has 58 career touchdowns in 49 career starts.
Leftwich will likely make his decision before the NFL draft at the end of the month.
If Leftwich does sign with the Colts, it would ensure the Steelers re-signing veteran Charlie Batch.
The Steelers only have two quarterbacks currently under contract behind Roethlisberger – former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson, both of whom were signed to future contracts this offseason.
Unrestricted free agent Dennis Dixon will not be back with the Steelers.
By Mark Kaboly
Posted: 4/3/2012 – 12:36 p.m.