Dennis Dixon is expected to be out for six weeks after surgery for the knee injury he suffered in the Titans game. Assuming that timetable is accurate, he would likely be ready around Week 9 against the Bengals, which leaves the Steelers with a very interesting decision.
In a little over two weeks, Ben Roethlisberger will return to the active roster. When that happens, the most logical move is to release a quarterback — Pittsburgh doesn’t need four of them on its active roster. The assumption all along has been that Charlie Batch would be released at that point.
Now that may change. If the Steelers cut Batch, they’ll be going with a somewhat gimpy Byron Leftwich as the only backup quarterback for the next four weeks until Dixon returned. If they decided instead to cut Leftwich (highly unlikely), they’d be trusting Batch to remain healthy, something that has proven quite tough for him (he’s spent two of his nine seasons in Pittsburgh on injured reserve).
So Pittsburgh could keep four quarterbacks, but there aren’t a whole lot of other options to cut on the roster (Arnaz Battle? Tony Hills?). Or they could put Dixon on injured reserve and go with Batch and Leftwich as the backups for the rest of the season.
Such a move would keep the Steelers safe at quarterback, but it would also keep Pittsburgh from using Dixon as a change of pace over the final half of the season. Considering that Pittsburgh has a franchise quarterback that’s not a whole lot to give up.
The Steelers have two more weeks to make such a decision, and with Batch’s injury history there’s no reason to make this decision any earlier than you have to, but at this point Dixon’s spot on the 53-man roster looks pretty shaky.