TAMPA, Fla.--Here is something to consider when it comes to two quarterbacks who will be on the open market when free agency kicks off Feb. 27: Both Byron Leftwich and Chris Simms are represented by the same agent, Tom Condon.
That means, at most, Condon is only going to be steering one player toward the Bears. Leftwich, the backup to Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, thought he was going to be drafted by the Bears No. 4 overall in 2003 before they dealt that pick to the New York Jets for the No. 13 and No. 22 picks. Simms was another quarterback from that draft class that the Bears are known to have liked, but he lasted until late in the third round.
They will be in an unimpressive crop of available quarterbacks the Bears might consider to bring in. Simms' father, CBS analyst Phil Simms, said Wednesday afternoon that he didn't see Kyle Orton being unseated. If son thinks like father, it might not look like an attractive destination for Simms, who has thrown two passes since being injured in Week 3 of the 2006 season.
Leftwich, who could be pursued by his hometown Washington Redskins, still considers himself a starter in the league and when his opportunity has come this season, he's made the most of it, completing 21-of-36 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns with a 104.3 passer rating. He's basically two years removed from being a full-time starter as well as ankle injuries hampered him.
"I think being a part of this organization and being a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers has made me a better quarterback,'' Leftwich said. "Just picking up from a Pro Bowl quarterback like Ben, the way he does things. And just being around good football players, any time you are around good football players, the Troy Polamalus and Hines Wards, you become a better player by understanding guys who have been in this league longer than you and what they do on a day-to-day basis.
"When you look around, do you think I should be a starter in this league? It's just the situation I am in. I never looked at my situation and was bitter. Injuries can put you in a bad predicament in this league and my last year-and-a-half wasn't good with that and that got me in this situation. But look at the situation I am in. Sometimes, things are blessing in disguise if things don't work out the way you want them to. Things happen for a reason. I know I am not the starter but I still try to go out and help this football team win games on a week-to-week basis.''
One of the knocks on Leftwich has been his mechanics, that he has a slow release although he possesses one of the stronger arms in the league. He challenged that assertion with statistics.
"For people say that, that means I should be throwing a lot of interceptions, right, with my big windup?'' Leftwich said. "That means a lot of my passes should be knocked down and almost intercepted, right? That means a lot of linemen should be batting passes back in my face, right? Why doesn't that happen? If it's that bad, why does it not happen?''
The numbers support him. He's been sacked just 85 times with 1,438 career attempts. That's one sack every 16.9 attempts, or roughly two per game if he attempts 34 passes a game. Leftwich has 38 career interceptions and has been picked off on 2.6 percent of his passes. He said three weeks ago to tell the Bears to look him up. He's got one more game Sunday before he'll really start contemplating free agency. The Redskins might be the match for him as they look for someone in the event Jason Campbell doesn't work out.