The terms of the deal have yet to be released, but Bruce Gradkowski is sitting pretty nicely by inheriting the #2 spot in the depth chart. There’s no question that Byron Leftwich will not be returning. After a poor showing when he stepped into the starting roll for two games, there’s little doubt from Steeler Nation that Lefty has seen his last days in a black and gold uniform. At age 30, Gradkowski is eight years younger than your friend and mine – Charlie Batch. The Steelers also picked up from waivers John Parker Wilson earlier in the offseason. So with two younger QB’s added to the roster, will this signify the end of Batch’s career in Pittsburgh?
Batch’s career has stood the test of time while on the Steelers roster. He hasn’t seen much action over his tenure as the perennial backup QB. But, when he has, Batch has stepped up in ways when most QB’s would fold. He always seems to get the win that ‘matters.’ Take last season for instance. After losing a huge game against the Ravens with Lefty subbing in for an injured Big Ben, just about everyone outside of Steeler Nation had the Steelers pegged as losers for the following game against the Ratbirds. Batch stepped up as the backup for that game and did just enough to get the win in hostile territory. It was a brilliant performance given the circumstances – a team on the ropes, a struggling offense, and a crucial game in Baltimore. With that win, many thought the way was paved for the Steelers to make a huge push for the playoffs and division. ’The Collapse’ prevented that from happening, but Batch gave us hope.
The addition of Gradkowski and Wilson significantly lowers the age of the QB depth chart without sacrificing experience. Gradkowski has been in the league for seven years. As a starter he went 3-5 with the Raiders and never really had a chance to do much in Cincy with the emergence of Ginger Spice Andy Dalton. Now this is assuming that Wilson is ready to be at #3. The Steelers probably won’t carry four QB’s, so the decision will be to keep Wilson or Batch. Wilson is a good project to try and develop under Ben, but the team may want to draft a future QB in the later rounds to see how they measure up against Batch and Wilson.
I have a feeling that this is the last we’ll see of Charlie Batch. The team will probably keep four QB’s going into training camp, but will ultimately keep just three. If the Steelers can get a steal during the draft, the third stringer will more than likely be that draft pick. That leaves Batch and Wilson as the odd man out. If the team can’t find a good QB of value in the draft, then it will come down to Batch and Wilson. Unless Wilson stinks up the joint, I fear this is the end of the road for Batch.
What do you think?
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