KUSA — KUSA – There are many reasons why Paxton Lynch was cut by the Broncos on Sunday just two years after the team made him their first-round draft pick.
Lynch’s inability to beat out Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round draft selection, for the Broncos’ starting quarterback job the previous two years was a big one.
The surprising hometown boos in the preseason opener left no doubt Broncos Country was ready to move on. Lynch’s performance in that preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings brought a demotion to No. 3 quarterback behind Chad Kelly, another seventh-round pick.
There are few more vulnerable spots on an NFL’s 53-man roster than No. 3 quarterback. There are also scouting explanations like decision-making and throwing accuracy.
When the waiver wire revealed another quarterback the Broncos liked from that same 2016 draft – quarterback Kevin Hogan, who was selected in the fifth round, four rounds after Lynch – general manager John Elway finally said it was time.
A few minutes after the Broncos were awarded Hogan off waivers, Lynch was called into the UCHealth Training Center headquarters on the players’ day off Sunday with the message Elway and head coach Vance Joseph wanted to see him.
The Broncos’ bosses informed Lynch he was waived off the roster.
“Vance and I met with Paxton this morning and informed him that it’s best for everyone to make this move,” Elway said in a statement. “We appreciate all of Paxton’s hard work as a Bronco, and we wish him well in the future.”
Lynch is hardly the first, first-round quarterback disappointment. In fact, check out this list of quarterbacks who were taken No. 7 to 32 overall in the previous nine drafts from 2009-17: Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, EJ Manuel, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Lynch, Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson.
Only one from this group has won a playoff game. Tebow.
Lynch’s cut came as he was coming off arguably his most impressive performance with the Broncos, albeit in the second half of preseason game No. 4 against many Arizona Cardinal defenders who also got cut this weekend. Still, Lynch completed 14 of 15 for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Hogan had his own sterling preseason performances, though, and a little more NFL regular-season experience than Lynch. It may not have hurt that Elway saw Hogan play plenty in college at his alma mater, Stanford.
In Washington’s third preseason game against the Broncos last week, Hogan completed 7 of 9 for 88 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. In the fourth preseason game against Baltimore on Thursday, Hogan was 22 of 38 for 272 yards and 3 touchdown passes against two interceptions.
Elway may have also been impressed that Hogan appeared in eight games the previous two years for the horrific Cleveland Browns and lived to tell about it.
While Hogan is the Broncos’ new No. 3 quarterback, Case Keenum remains the “franchise guy” and will start in the regular-season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Kelly will be the No. 2 quarterback to start the season.
Hogan will need time to become accustomed to the Broncos’ offensive system and playbook but once he does, he will be given a chance to compete for the No. 2 job. Washington head coach Jay Gruden utilizes many of the same West Coast system principles as Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave so that should shorten the learning curve some.
The transaction caused the Broncos to eat some money. They not only pick up Hogan’s $630,000 salary, Lynch’s $1.311 million salary this year is fully guaranteed as is $600,000 of his $1.74 million salary next year. There is offset language in the contract so Broncos will get some relief when Lynch signs with another team.
He made $6.42 million during his first two seasons with the Broncos. He played in five games and was 1-3 as a starter. He threw 4 touchdown passes against 4 interceptions.