The Buccaneers have been contacting other teams this week to gauge interest in their quarterbacks after putting off a decision to name a starter, according to league sources.
Bucs coach Raheem Morris originally planned to name a starter after Saturday’s preseason game against the Jaguars, then postponed the decision for at least one more week. Veterans Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown have been competing for the job, with first-round draft pick Josh Freeman the quarterback of the future.
Two NFL sources said the Bucs have been calling teams, willing to listen to offers for Leftwich, McCown or second-year pro Josh Johnson, a player thought of highly internally but who likely wouldn’t have great trade value.
“They sounded like they’re willing to deal any one of those three,” one executive said. “They’re looking for someone to make the (starting quarterback) decision for them.”
Many in the organization have regarded Leftwich as the favorite for the job, but not much has separated him from McCown, who’s coming off his best outing of the summer. McCown threw two touchdown passes in the Bucs’ 24-23 preseason victory over the Jaguars.
Had Jon Gruden remained the Bucs’ coach, Johnson would have been a favorite to win the job, according to a team source.
The trade market for quarterbacks isn’t deep, but McCown and Leftwich do have starting experience. Neither player would be in position to start elsewhere coming in so late, however, and would need time to adjust to a new offense and surroundings.
The Bills, Packers, Bears and Saints are among the teams that have been closely monitoring backup quarterback possibilities.