Bucs sign veteran Leftwich to be part of QB mix

TAMPA, Fla. -- Byron Leftwich is leaving behind his backup role on a championship team with hopes of starting in Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers signed the free-agent quarterback to a two-year deal Monday.

2008 Statistics
Games/Starts: 5/0

Yards: 303

TD/INT: 2/0

Leftwich, heading into his seventh NFL season, was a backup for Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers last year and threw for two touchdowns and a 104.3 rating in a limited role. He'll get $7.5 million over two years for the Bucs, who also re-signed one of their reserve quarterbacks, Luke McCown, to a three-year deal earlier this year.

Leftwich spent four seasons as the starter in Jacksonville, which selected him in the first round (seventh overall) in the 2003 draft out of Marshall. He was the second quarterback drafted in 2003 behind Carson Palmer by Cincinnati.

He became Jacksonville's starter, replacing Mark Brunell, after four games when Brunell hurt his elbow. Leftwich threw for 2,819 yards, 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and the team went 5-11.

But the Jaguars improved to 9-7 the next year and 12-4 in 2005, making the playoffs for the first time in six years. Leftwich missed the final five games that season with a broken ankle.

He was cut by the Jaguars in favor of David Garrard in 2007 and joined the Falcons, but was not re-signed by Atlanta after making two starts, and headed to the Steelers last August after backup quarterback Charlie Batch was lost for the season.

Tampa Bay did not re-sign last year's starter, Jeff Garcia, who now is with Oakland, but has veteran Brian Griese, second-year QB Josh Johnson, plus McCown and now Leftwich on its roster.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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