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Arming Up: Bucs Sign Veteran QB Leftwich

Tampa Bay wanted to add a fourth quarterback before the start of OTAs in May and found their man in former Jaguar and Steeler Byron Leftwich, an unrestricted free agent….Leftwich has a career mark of 24-22 in 46 starts


QB Byron Leftwich played well as a reserve with the Super Bowl-bound Steelers in 2008

Byron Leftwich won a Super Bowl ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers this past February. Now he's signed on with Tampa Bay to help the Buccaneers chase the same goal.

The Buccaneers announced the addition of Leftwich, an unrestricted free agent entering his seventh NFL campaign, on Monday. The seventh overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft by Jacksonville, Leftwich spent the first four years of his pro career with the Jaguars, starting 44 of the 46 games in which he played. He has a career passer rating of 80.3 and a 24-22 record as a starter in the NFL.

Leftwich and the Buccaneers worked on finalizing a contract over the weekend but the two-year deal wasn't officially signed until Monday evening.

The Buccaneers had indicated a desire to add a fourth quarterback to the roster before the start of organized team activity days (OTAs) in May. Leftwich joins a group that also includes Luke McCown, Brian Griese and Josh Johnson. Tampa Bay will have a new starter under center in 2009 after not attempting to re-sign Jeff Garcia in free agency.

Leftwich didn't play in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, as starter Ben Roethlisberger was on the field for all 60 minutes of the Steelers' 27-23, down-to-the-wire win over the Arizona Cardinals. Leftwich was definitely an asset for the Steelers, however, after he was signed in late August to replace injured reserve Charlie Batch.

Leftwich appeared in five games for the Steelers in 2008, completing 58.3% of his passes and throwing for 303 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished his one Steeler campaign with a passer rating of 104.3. In a Week Nine game against Washington, Leftwich took over after halftime with the Steelers clinging to a 10-6 lead and helped lead the team to a 23-6 victory by completing seven of 10 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

After being released by the Jaguars just prior to the regular season in 2007, Leftwich signed with Atlanta and was one of three quarterbacks to start for the Falcons during a difficult 4-12 game. He appeared in three games with two starts and threw for 279 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

In 54 career games, Leftwich has completed 842 of 1,438 pass attempts (58.6%) for 9,624 yards. He possesses a strong touchdown-interception ratio of 54-38 and while he is not considered particularly mobile, the 6-5, 250-pound passer has also barreled his way to nine career rushing touchdowns.

Leftwich took over the Jaguars' starting job four games into his rookie campaign after Mark Brunell suffered an elbow injury. He would throw for 2,819 yards, 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 11 starts for a 5-11 Jacksonville squad. Leftwich helped the Jaguars improve to 9-7 in 2004 and then to 12-4 in 2005, as Jacksonville made the playoffs for the first time in six years. He lost the last five games of the '05 regular season to a broken ankle but threw for 2,123 yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 89.3.

Leftwich was the second quarterback drafted in 2003 after Carson Palmer, who went first overall to Cincinnati. He was an extremely prolific passer at Marshall, starting for three seasons and completing 939 of 1,442 passes (65.1%) for 11,903 yards, 89 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.

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