The Fall of Paxton Lynch
The Fall of Paxton Lynch
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When the Denver Broncos selected Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft hopes were high that they had secured the future of their QB position. Why wouldn't people think this? The Broncos on the back of winning the Super Bowl and retirement of Peyton Manning were looking for an heir, maybe Brock Osweiler was originally looked at but his departure opened the window and prompted the Broncos to trade up and select Lynch.
Lynch who impressed in college went into the 2016 season in a brilliant position. It's not uncommon for teams to phase in rookie QBs, but when the QB position is open and you've selected a first rounder most of the fanbase expect to see them take the field. Lynch entered into the camp in a battle for the starters role against 7th rounder Trevor Siemian, and former top 5 pick turned journeyman Mark Sanchez. Realistically he had a brilliant chance to be named starter. Despite the situation he found himself in Siemian won the starters role and Lynch was named as backup.
Siemian looked good in his first season as starter, not tremendous but solid. The Broncos would go 9-7 but miss out on the playoffs. Lynch got 3 opportunities to play that season, but didn't show any strong enough signs to justify jumping in as starter. Still people called for him to be given more chances, this was Elway's guy after all and while solid Siemian always seemed like a stop over QB.
With the 2017 season a lot called for the Lynch to be given the shot at QB, finally seeing if he is up to scratch, while many still had doubts about his ability. The Broncos seemingly showed their intent of continuing with hope for Lynch by only drafting a QB with their final pick of the draft in 2017, Chad Kelly, in my opinion and most a steal at Mr. Irrelevant, who would have to sit out the season with injury. Lynch got banged up during pre-season and Siemian again named starter. The Broncos then made a somewhat surprising decision to re-sign Brock Osweiler as their new back-up. Denver went on to have a terrible year, 5-11, missing out on the playoffs yet again.
Siemian started the majority of the season, with Brock Osweiler playing 4 times and Lynch getting 2 games under his belt. The state of the Broncos QB position was topic of debate yet again. Throughout the 2017 season Siemian seemed to have lost the support of many and patience with Lynch was running out.
2018 Season - To Date
Despite the attention around the position the Broncos would not look towards the NFL draft to add to their options. Rather they signed Case Keenum, a 5 year veteran coming off the best year of his career at Minnesota. Keenum was immediately named starter for the Broncos and Lynch named back-up. At this point most Broncos fans had began to give up on Lynch and any idea that he would be their regular starter.
These doubts seemed to be confirmed when Lynch got demoted to third-string QB with Chad Kelly leap-frogging him after impressing in camp and during the first pre-season game. Lynch according to Broncos couch Vance Joseph hasn't taken the decision well.
“He is upset and he didn’t like it, He wants to know why and he’s got to play better. It’s as simple as that.
It’s a competition, okay? It’s the league. Everyone is doing this. Nobody is not playing their best players. It’s really more about Chad. Chad has competed and Chad’s played well. If Chad hadn’t played well, Paxton is still the No. 2. It’s really more about what Chad has done from the spring to now.”
- Vance Joseph
What now is the question for Paxton Lynch. Dropping to third on the depth chart and fans petitioning for the Broncos to cut him, clearly shows any future at Denver is unlikely. With him being Elway's guy it was always going to take a lot for him to be demoted, and going into the third season of his career with the Broncos if they still haven't seen enough from him to suggest he's their guy it doesn't suggest he will go on to lead another team in the league.
The problem for Broncos is since Lynch was a first rounder most of his money is guaranteed, if the money wasn't a factor you could see the Broncos just cutting him with no hesitation, however now it's a huge factor to consider. The Broncos would rather trade Lynch away but his value has plummeted and you can't see any team making a move for the trade and willing to pay his salary.
For now the Broncos will hold onto him, see if any trade interest arises, and prepare for the scenario of cutting him during the final stage of cuts. It sounds harsh to call Lynch a draft bust so early in his career, but it's also hard to deny this. The incredible decline of his stock in such a short space of time points to this. He's been bet out of position in camp by two 7th round picks now. I don't think he's a terrible player but it's safe to say now that he wasn't first-round material. He may well go on to prove some of us wrong later in his career, but he definitely has no future it would seem with the Broncos, and has to be looked at as one of their big draft busts.
I love a good underdog story but Lynch has a lot of work to do in order to repair his reputation.