The conundrum beats louder for Paxton Lynch.
Relegated now to subterranean scrub, Lynch has become a quarterback matryoshka doll – becoming smaller each time his stacked figures are removed.
He is a puzzle inside a predicament within a problem.
What do the Broncos do about Paxton – trade him, waive him, deactivate him, hand him a clipboard and a No. 2 pencil?
We almost could begin to feel sorry for Paxton.
Except that coach Vance Joseph, in announcing the decision to drop the third-year veteran (?) to third team, said that Lynch, when told, “was upset and didn’t like it. He wants to know why. ...”
Why? On what parallel planet does Paxton preside and prevail?
The New York Post, of all papers, headlined that “Paxton Lynch is mad after being buried.”
If only Lynch would become angry and outraged once in his career instead of crying on the sideline in a game, claiming he will play better next time and praising his quarterback competition.
In Saturday night’s exhibition of futility, Lynch was terrible, and he’s been rather ordinary in training camp, just as he was pedestrian last season and a foot-traveler in his rookie year. He has played in five games, with four starts and a 1-3 record, and four touchdowns, four interceptions and 18 sacks.
Multiple times with the Broncos he has landed on “Chance’’ and could have taken advantage of “Advance to Go.’’ However, he always responds by getting “Go back three spaces.’’
In the 2016 draft Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were taken 1-2. They have become starters and been very successful. Wentz might have been MVP if he hadn’t torn up a knee. Goff played in the Pro Bowl.
Paxton was the third QB selected — when the Broncos traded up to 26th.
His slogan could be: “Well, I am better than Christian Hackenberg,’’ who was the next quarterback chosen (at 51st). In the offseason Hackenberg, who hasn’t appeared in an NFL game, was traded by the Jets to the Raiders, who promptly released him. Hackenberg recently was picked up by the Eagles and is fifth on the depth chart. At least, teams are interested in looking at The Hack.
Despite a lack of quality backups , nobody seems wound up about Lynch.
Memo to Jerry Jones: “Here is your second opportunity.’’
The Cowboys’ owner was groveling to trade up above the Broncos and seize Lynch, then immediately regretted he didn’t “overpay’’ to secure him. The Cowboys were stuck with Dak Prescott, who, as I wrote pre-draft, could and should have been grabbed by the Broncos. The Cowboys have a reserve quarterback named Cooper Rush, who actually played extremely well in the opening exhibition.
So, the Cowboys are out, and any franchises with former Broncos’ assistants who coached Lynch or against him in practices certainly aren’t recommending their bosses acquire him. Maybe the Bears will become intrigued in joint workouts and a game with the Broncos this week.
Paxton’s future in the league is precarious. Nobody else wants him, and somebody, John Elway, who handpicked him and has continued to hope he would become a real professional, must be very close to giving up on him.
However, unless Elway can find a willing partner (i.e., sucker), the Broncos have to concern themselves with Lynch’s guaranteed salary of $1.311 million. He also is receiving a $1.272 share of his original signing bonus, and counts more than more than $2.5 million against the salary cap this year. It’s not a significant sum, though.
Joseph continued to praise Lynch’s “physical talent’’ without mentioning his height, but acknowledged that football is “performance-based.’’ Based on his performances, Lynch had one solid game as a starter against the woeful Bucs in Tampa in ’16. Then coach Gary Kubiak wouldn’t even insert Paxton in the final meaningless game of the season. Last season he was pitiful in a start against the Raiders before getting hurt (once again) and just OK (two touchdowns, two interceptions) in the meaningless finale with the Chiefs.
Skimpy sampling sure, but telling – given that Lynch has been passed three times by two different seventh-round draft choices and has been inferior in two preseasons to an undrafted player (Kyle Sloter).
Paxton remains a quixotic quarterback quandary.