Leftwich headed to Tampa, will vie for starting role

Quarterback Byron Leftwich confirmed that he has agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who made another move for a veteran player to upgrade the offense under new coach Raheem Morris and new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. Leftwich is believed to have agreed to a two-year deal.

Leftwich, who confirmed his agreement with Tampa Bay in a text message, visited with the Buccaneers last week after speaking with the Redskins and Steelers, who had hoped to retain their backup from last season. In opting for Tampa Bay, Leftwich will get the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

The Bucs already have quarterbacks Luke McCown, Josh Johnson and Brian Griese on their roster. One of the four quarterbacks is expected to be released before the start of training camp.

A former starter in Jacksonville, Leftwich has played mostly as a reserve with Atlanta and Pittsburgh since being released by the Jags in 2007.

Since firing coach Jon Gruden and letting last season’s starter, Jeff Garcia, go in free agency, the Bucs franchise-tagged wide receiver Antonio Bryant, re-signed wide receiver Michael Clayton, traded for tight end Kellen Winslow and signed free-agent running back Derrick Ward. They also re-signed restricted free-agent offensive tackle Donald Penn last week.

The signing of Leftwich might not completely rule out Tampa Bay’s possible selection of a quarterback early in the draft, but by adding the six-year veteran to the relatively young tandem of McCown and Johnson, it would indicate that the Bucs could opt to draft for defense, where they need to bolster the defensive line.

– Steve Wyche

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