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McCown, Leftwich, and Johnson all on the trading block?

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An article by Jason La Confora over at NFL.com highlights attempts by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to trade one of their current quarterbacks.  He makes an interesting point or two, but seems to veer of course rather quickly

The Buccaneers have been contacting other teams this week to gauge interest in their quarterbacks after putting off a decision to name a starter, according to league sources.

Bucs coach Raheem Morris originally planned to name a starter after Saturday’s preseason game against the Jaguars, then postponed the decision for at least one more week. Veterans Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown have been competing for the job, with first-round draft pick Josh Freeman the quarterback of the future.

Two NFL sources said the Bucs have been calling teams, willing to listen to offers for Leftwich, McCown or second-year pro Josh Johnson, a player thought of highly internally but who likely wouldn’t have great trade value.

"They sounded like they’re willing to deal any one of those three," one executive said. "They’re looking for someone to make the (starting quarterback) decision for them."

Many in the organization have regarded Leftwich as the favorite for the job, but not much has separated him from McCown, who’s coming off his best outing of the summer. McCown threw two touchdown passes in the Bucs’ 24-23 preseason victory over the Jaguars.

Had Jon Gruden remained the Bucs’ coach, Johnson would have been a favorite to win the job, according to a team source.

The trade market for quarterbacks isn’t deep, but McCown and Leftwich do have starting experience. Neither player would be in position to start elsewhere coming in so late, however, and would need time to adjust to a new offense and surroundings.

The Bills, Packers, Bears and Saints are among the teams that have been closely monitoring backup quarterback possibilities.

Now La Canfora (or is is just Canfora?) hits it on the head at first.  We are looking to trade one of the quarterbacks, and why wouldnt we?  If one of those three is eventually going to leave the team in one way or another, why not try and get some compensation for him?  I completely agree with the motives and the article at that point.

But then he mentions the Bucs want another team to make our starting QB decision.  I couldn't disagree more.  It's a leverage game.  If we announce Leftwich as the starter, we just gave up any leverage in trading away McCown or Johnson.  If we try to trade McCown and say he still is in the mix to be a starter, maybe we can weasel a few more sheckles out of the other teams pockets. 

It has nothing to do with the Bucs front office being paralyzed by a decision.  When you have a surplus at a position, you try to move that for something in return.  And given that the fan base, coaches and players all seem split on the quarterbacks, it gives us a bit more leverage.  I commend the front office for trying to move one of the guys.  Now, if they tried to move a clear cut starter (if we had one) just to save money, thats another story.

There are two situations that can unfold here.  Im not saying three becuase I think Josh Johnson would net a 7th rounder at most given his project status.  Leftwich could be traded to a team who has no veteran back up.  Think some place with no support system in place.  Or McCown could get traded to a team who needs a younger half starter/half project type of guy. 

The return for either guy is likely a late round pick, but if that player will be cut anyways, why not secure another pick?