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Batch's One-Year Contract Could Spell The End for Leftwich, Dixon

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The sun rises in the east. Our taxes are due at some point in mid-April. QB Charlie Batch signs a one-year deal with the Steelers. These are rituals of the year we've all come to expect in our time here on Earth.

The question now is how Batch's most recent signing will affect the contract negotiations of QB Byron Leftwich and the upcoming draft.

Batch, at 38, clearly is not a long-term solution to back-up veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger. QB Dennis Dixon was being molded into that role, but he's on the lookout for a gig that may include competition for a starting job - he was most recently visiting the Denver Broncos, where the 35-year-old Peyton Manning is coming off a missed season and multiple neck surgeries.

Leftwich has performed when needed in his tenure in Pittsburgh, but injuries have ended or largely derailed his last two seasons.

It looks as if the Batch/Dixon/Leftwich shuffle will end this season, as odds seem to indicate the Steelers will go shopping for a future back-up quarterback in the draft. The Steelers have used a fifth round pick on Dixon in 2008, and their last drafted back-up, former Steelers QB Brian St. Pierre, in 2003. They also drafted Omar Jacobs in the fifth round of the 2006 Draft.

So history shows they like to go for potential back-up QBs in the fifth round. Their long-term success with that strategy, though, is partially the reason why Batch hasn't been beaten out and released yet.

Batch struggled during an in-game replacement of Roethlisberger in Week 15 at San Francisco, looking more than a little rusty, but looked sharp enough to guide the Steelers' offense to 27 points in a shutout win over St. Louis in Week 16. A big part of the job of a back-up quarterback on a team with a franchise quarterback in place is to help prepare the starter, and Batch does that as well as anyone, according to many people familiar with his role.

He's obviously done it well enough to stay in Pittsburgh for another year.