Steelers Trades: The return of Byron Leftwich costs Pittsburgh a seventh round choice in 2010

Jared Wickerham

It was a small price to pay to complete the Steelers' offseason of bringing the band back together. Leftwich joined Antwaan Randle El, Larry Foote and Bryant McFadden and previously departed Steelers who came back that year.

With the annual NFL Draft on the horizon, it brings to mind some maneuvering that paid huge dividends for all involved, while others just didn't pan out for any teams or the players who were traded.

PITTSBURGH -- During the 2010 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded their seventh-round selection to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to secure quarterback Byron Leftwich, who became their backup quarterback for three seasons.

The Bucs used that pick in a deal with the Denver Broncos, who used spot No. 225 in the seventh round to take cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson from the University of California-Berkeley. Thompson had a decent rookie season with the Broncos as a backup and special teams performer, but he ruptured an Achilles tendon during the final preseason game in 2011.

Thompson never again played in the NFL. The Broncos cut him prior to the 2012 season, and he has played in the Arena League for the San Jose SaberCats, Orlando Predators and Los Angeles Kiss.

Leftwich had a nine-year NFL career that began in 2003 when the Jacksonville Jaguars made him a first-round pick from Marshall, No. 7 overall, as the second quarterback taken that year. Carson Palmer was No. 1 overall by Cincinnati. Leftwich became almost an immediate starter, 44 of 46 games with the Jags. But various injury issues dotted his career.

Leftwich spent 2003-2004 with the Jaguars, three games with two starts for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, and the Steelers first acquired him for five games in 2008. He was signed by Tampa Bay in 2009, but Leftwich returned to the Steelers in 2010. He missed the entire 2011 season due to an elbow injury in the preseason, but played for them again in 2012. Leftwich has not played in the NFL since two games with the club that final year.

All told, Leftwich played eight games with the Steelers with just one start. He completed nearly 58 percent of his career passes for 10,532 yards, 58 touchdowns and 42 interceptions. The generally immobile Leftwich, who described himself as "probably the slowest black man in the NFL,'' was sacked 92 times. He had a 31-yard touchdown run in his final game with the Steelers, because he injured himself on the play while stumbling and falling on his right (throwing) shoulder in the end zone.

With the Steelers, Leftwich completed 51 of 96 passes for 617 yards and two touchdowns with one interception as the backup to starter Ben Roethlisberger. However, his inability to stay healthy, much like the club's third quarterback, Charlie Batch, made both veterans and locker-room good guys expendable prior to this past season.

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