ENGLEWOOD – Astute Bronco followers (not there is any other kind) may wonder if Paxton Lynch has what it takes to become a legit starting quarterback.
But those opinions matter only a little. It’s what John Elway and Vance Joseph think that really counts.
And with the minicamp and offseason wrapping up Thursday, the bosses still think Lynch can become a good quarterback someday.
“It means a lot, especially the head coach and the big guy upstairs, too, having my back," Lynch said. “Especially Mr. Elway - the fact he drafted me, he moved up in the first round to come and get me.’’
Problem is that trade up the first-round draft board occurred two years ago. When it was determined Lynch was not ready to become the franchise quarterback by year three, Elway, the Broncos’ general manager, signed free-agent Case Keenum to be his starting quarterback.
This offseason was about establishing Keenum as the No. 1 quarterback. And it was about continuing to develop Lynch.
Fine by Paxton.
“I was really excited actually when we got Case," Lynch said. “Just for the fact that he's a veteran guy who's kind of been through it a little bit. He's had his ups and downs but the way he carries himself and the way he handles himself, he's a pro and I think that only benefits me and other guys in the locker room and other guys in the quarterback room being around that.”
With Keenum here, the Broncos’ brass was able to boot their decision on Lynch to a later time. Maybe he will come on later this season. Maybe it will be next season. Maybe it will be with another team after he becomes a free agent after his fourth season (picking up his fifth-year option next May does not seem likely at this point).
Maybe it never happens for Paxton Lynch.
Until he does it, the Broncos can’t say for sure. His time was almost up in late-April when Elway thought long and hard about taking quarterback Sam Darnold with his No. 5 pick.
Darnold went No. 3 to the New York Jets so we’ll never know. Lynch smiled when asked about the possibility of the Broncos taking a quarterback in the first round – Elway, Joseph and others met multiple times with Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen during the pre-draft process – but didn’t admit to sweating out the possibility of getting pushed out by a new young prospect.
“You just never know what teams are going to do come draft time," he said. “They’re not telling us anything about what they're going to do. So, yeah, you hear buzz about it. But I wasn't really focused on that. I was just focused on getting guys that could make our team better, and if that's what they did, then that's what they did. But I’m going to come out here and compete and get better every day.”
So is Paxton close? Is he there?
He has improved, no doubt. But if all goes well for the Broncos and Keenum this year, no one will find out if Paxton is ready.
“I obviously believe that I can go out and play right now," Lynch said. “But that's not my job right now. Right now, Case is the guy and I'm doing everything I can to make the team better and make myself better. I'm confident in what I can do and I'm confident in my abilities. I'm hanging my hat on that and I'm going to be ready.”