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QB Competition: Who will become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Starter?

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"Our plan [for Rookie QB Josh Freeman] would really be to compete with the four quarterbacks we take to camp, and let his talent show. I understand he’s 21. I’ve seen it where it helps if they sit. I saw last year where the guys played themselves onto the football field, but I do realize he’s a young quarterback, and ideally you’d like those guys to learn a little bit, prepare, and get caught up to the game. We’ll see how it goes in the preseason." - Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik per the Pewter Report

There you have it. We were all excited about the three man QB competition we initially thought we had, now throw two more names in the hat: Free Agent Byron Leftwich and Rookie Josh Freeman. Let’s discuss what may or may not come of this QB competition:

QB Luke McCown | 6’3 212lbs | 6th Season in the League
If we ran a poll (wait for it) the fan base would probably tab Luke McCown as the team’s early favorite to become the starting QB. #1 He’s making the most money of the QB’s on the roster, $5 ($2.5 mil guaranteed) million this season (well until Freeman gets signed). #2 He’s had more time running Jags offense thus far as he’s had more reps in practice. #3 You get the sense listening to Rah and Mark that he will be the starter. This is truly a make or break opportunity for McCown; he’s had four years to rise to the top and hasn’t. The pressure is on him to prove he can become the starter. He’s been billed the team’s most athletic player, so it will be interesting to see if he can avoid the big sacks this Pre-season and finally take hold of the starting gig.
Prediction: Luke will be the team’s starter.
QB Byron Leftwich | 6’5 250lbs | 7th Season in the League
Byron was brought in two weeks before the NFL Draft. He wasn’t given any guaranteed money on the first year of his two year deal, despite that he remains the biggest threat to unseat McCown for the starter’s job. Leftwich is coming off a successful stint as the Pittsburgh Steelers back-up QB. He possesses a strong will, good decision making skills, and a strong arm. The knock on him has always been his slow delivery and lack of mobility. He and McCown will go neck and neck during the pre-season to determine who starts for Raheem Morris.
Prediction: Leftwich becomes McCown’s primary back-up.
QB Brian Griese | 6’3 214lbs | 12th Season in the League
With Leftwich now on the roster, Griese lost his luster as the Veteran presence on the team. Couple that with the fact that he didn’t attend the team’s first three-day voluntary mini-camp and he’s on the outside looking in. I thought Griese provided enough last season in the way of the win column to forget adding another Veteran this off-season, but the Bucs did and so his days appear numbered.
Prediction: Griese gets cut prior to Training Camp in order to let him seek employment elsewhere.
QB Josh Johnson | 6’3 213lbs | 2nd Season in the League
This is a tough situation to figure out. On the one hand Johnson has Pro Personnel Director Doug Williams in his corner, on the other hand he has another Rookie QB coming in to take his minutes. If this were the previous regime I could see JJ getting cut. With the new regime maybe they find a way to get him on the field with his athleticism. However you chop it up it doesn’t look too good for the 5th round draft pick.
Prediction: Practice Squad material.
QB Josh Freeman | 6’5 248lbs | Rookie Season
Herein lays the wildcard. Josh will be given every opportunity to become the starter this off-season. Can he emerge as the starter? Beating out McCown and Leftwich? I’m not so sure. There’s no rush from a management perspective to throw him in there, as this is essentially a transition year. Add in the 5th toughest schedule in the NFL and you have plenty of reasons to let him sit a season. Will his ability not allow for that though?
Prediction: Freeman becomes the 3rd string QB and will play in the event that McCown/Leftwich are ineffective after multiple opportunities (think after Week 8's Bye Week) or if injuries occur.