On Saturday, the Buccaneers put to rest all the speculation of who their starting quarterback would be by naming Byron Leftwich the starter over Luke McCown.
Rookie Josh Freeman is currently listed as the third string QB behind Leftwich and McCown while Josh Johnson is fourth on the depth chart. How long this rotation will last is currently unknown. The Buccaneers have been rumored to shopping one of their quarterbacks for a trade, and it appears the most likely one to be dealt would be McCown, who signed a 2 year, $7.5 million contract with the club in February.
When asked on Friday why Leftwich would be a good choice to start at quarterback, Morris recognized his toughness and his leadership ability.
"If Byron Leftwich is your selection, it’s his leadership; the fact that he's won 12 games [in a season] in this league before; the fact that he's a big, strong-armed guy that can make all the throws,” Morris said. “He missed a few last night, which was blatantly obvious, but he made a few big-time throws that followed up on those throws. [He] has the savvy, has the toughness, is mentally sharp – all the qualities that you look for in a quarterback, all the things that you want the quarterback to have.”
Many believed Leftwich was on his way to being named the starter after his performance in week 1 of the preseason, but McCown’s strong showing against Jacksonville kept the competition open for another week.
Both quarterbacks appeared to struggle against the Dolphins with Leftwich overthrowing receivers and McCown struggling at times to make a decision.
Through the first three games of the preseason, McCown had completed 15-of-28 passes for 108 yards and 2 TDs with a completion percentage of 53.6 while carrying the ball five times for 20 yards. Leftwich completed 21-of-43 for 224 yards and 1 TD with a completion percentage of 48.8.
This will be the second time in his career that Leftwich will line up under center as the starting QB. Previously he started with the Jaguars a number of years, but since then worked primarily as a backup in Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
The naming of a starting quarterback was not the moves the Bucs made on Saturday. The team also announced that DB DeAngelo Willingham, G Julius Wilson, and former USF Bull DE Jarriett Buie have been released. In addition, the team waived injured WR Kelly Campbell.