Former Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka, former Patriots Brian Hoyer surface as free agent candidates

Jared Wickerham

With the impending absence of Byron Leftwich, the Steelers are reportedly shopping the free agency market for a back-up quarterback. Kafka and Hoyer will have tryouts in Pittsburgh Tuesday.

It's been a matter of wrong-place-wrong-time for former Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka.

The big-armed and quick-footed former Northwestern standout was a fourth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010, seen as a developmental project. That's not a death sentence on a team that, at the time, had arguably the most injury-prone pair of quarterbacks in the league (Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb).

The Eagles would eventually deal Kolb to Arizona after the lockout ended in 2011, but the Eagles signed Vince Young to back up Vick.

Young didn't last long in Philadelphia, being jettisoned after the 2011 season, but the Eagles first signed veteran Trent Edwards, then drafted Nick Foles in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Foles - now starting for the injured Vick - took the No. 2 job in Philadelphia, but not before Kafka broke his non-throwing hand in training camp.

He was a part of the final cuts there, and has been out of work ever since.

Barring major setback, it would seem his hand is healed, which would be part of what the Steelers will look at when he tries out for the team today as part of their search for a back-up to Charlie Batch in Week 12 against Cleveland.

He will have company. Former Patriots back-up Brian Hoyer will also hit the South Side facility at some point, looking to provide emergency support for the suddenly razor-thin Steelers quarterback depth.

Hoyer, a Cleveland native and former quarterback at Michigan State, was undrafted in 2009, but signed by the Patriots as a free agent. He served as Tom Brady's back-up from 2009-11. He was released during training camp this season, having been beaten out by Ryan Mallett.

Hoyer has more game experience than Kafka, although neither have started an NFL game. ESPN's Adam Schefter referred to Kafka as "a favorite" to join the team this week. Operating under the assumption these two are the ones Pittsburgh is bringing in for tryouts, it would seem to indicate the Steelers are comfortable with the idea of Charlie Batch continuing to start in the (very possible) event neither Ben Roethlisberger nor Byron Leftwich could play after Week 12.

Batch will be the Steelers starter in Week 12, and they will most likely sign a quarterback to serve as Batch's back-up in Week 12. Whether that quarterback will be around after the game against Cleveland remains to be seen.


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