New Castle News

March 13, 2013

Steelers sign Gradkowski; Leftwich likely gone

By Staff
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH —

Bruce Gradkowski, who grew up in Dormont and played at Seton-LaSalle High School, has signed a three-year contract to return home to play quarterback for the Steelers.

Gradkowski, 30, has played for five different NFL teams since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him in the sixth round from Toledo in 2006. He was a backup for the Cincinnati Bengals last season.

Over his seven seasons, Gradkowski completd 52.9 percent of his passes (375 of 709) for 4,057 yards, 21 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and a 65.8 passer rating.

His signing at least spells the end of Byron Leftwich's days with the Steelers and could affect those of longtime backup Charlie Batch, another Pittsburgh native. The Steelers still may look for a quarterback in the draft. Besides starter Ben Roethlisberger, they also recently acquired John Wilson, 27, off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both Batch and Leftwich are unrestricted free agents.

Perhaps the best game of Gradkowski's career came in Heinz Field when he led the Oakland Raiders to a 27-24 upset of the Steelers by throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns, including the winner with nine seconds left.

Gradkowski played in just three games last season for the Bengals and completed 5 of 11 passes.

His brother, Gino Gradkowski, earned a Super Bowl ring as a rookie backup center for the Ravens last season. He's expected to move into the starting job this year after the retirement of Matt Birk.