Less than a decade after his final NFL game, Byron Leftwich could be a head coach.
The NFL doesn’t have many active Black head coaches. Leftwich, the Buccaneers’ second-year offensive coordinator and a longtime quarterback, might be the next to join the club.
Whether he’s the future head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or not, don’t be surprised to see Leftwich with an NFL head coaching job soon. Here’s why.
Byron Leftwich had a lengthy playing career
Before Byron Leftwich enjoyed a long NFL career, the talented gunslinger starred at Marshall. Leftwich completed 65.1% of his passes for 11,903 yards, 89 touchdowns, and 28 interceptions.
Leftwich finished sixth in the 2002 Heisman Trophy voting when he completed 67.4% of his passes for 4,268 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He also scored six rushing touchdowns and even caught an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Jacksonville used the seventh overall pick of the 2003 NFL draft on Leftwich, who stood 6 feet 5 inches and weighed 250 pounds. Leftwich went 24-20 in four seasons with the Jaguars and completed 58.7% of his passes for 9,042 yards, 51 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions.
Leftwich showed a bit more mobility in Jacksonville, scoring eight rushing touchdowns on three yards per carry.
Jacksonville cut Leftwich in September 2007 and he signed with the Atlanta Falcons, who lost Michael Vick to a dogfighting scandal. Leftwich bounced around the NFL for his next few years and won a Super Bowl with Pittsburgh after the 2008 season.
According to Spotrac, Leftwich earned $27.2 million in the NFL. Most of that money, nearly $18 million, came with the Jaguars.
Leftwich is Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator
When his playing days ended, Byron Leftwich waited a few years before he went into coaching.
Arizona head coach Bruce Arians, who coached Leftwich in Pittsburgh, hired his former quarterback as a coaching intern in May 2016. Less than a year later, Arians hired Leftwich as the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach.
New head coach Steve Wilks retained Leftwich in 2018. Leftwich became the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator in October 2018, but the team fired him after the season.
Leftwich reunited with Arians in Tampa Bay in January 2019. Arians appointed Leftwich as the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator, a role he still holds this season.
Byron Leftwich could be the NFL’s next Black head coach
When the 2020 season ends, Byron Leftwich could find himself as a hot name on the coaching carousel.
Leftwich is young (he’ll coach next season at 41) and a bright offensive mind. Considering Tampa Bay’s offensive success this season, even with Tom Brady at the helm, one shouldn’t be surprised to see Leftwich earn several interviews next offseason.
Houston already fired head coach Bill O’Brien, and Dan Quinn may not be long for Atlanta. The same goes for Lions head coach Matt Patricia and Jets head coach Adam Gase.
Of those spots, Houston is the best for Leftwich. The Texans already have a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson and play in a relatively weak division.
Or, Leftwich might be better off waiting for Arians to retire, and simply taking the reins in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have a strong young core and the NFC South Division could see some big changes in the coming years, especially when Drew Brees leaves the Saints.
All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.