Broncos cut 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch after claiming Kevin Hogan off waivers

Paxton Lynch’s stellar preseason finale saved his job with the Broncos, but only for a day. Less than 24 hours after Lynch’s name appeared on the Broncos’ 53-man roster, his name got erased on Sunday, which means the Paxton Lynch Era in Denver is over after one first-round pick, three lost quarterback competitions, four underwhelming regular-season starts, and continual disappointment.

According to multiple reports and later confirmed by the team, Lynch has been waived by the Broncos.

“Vance and I met with Paxton this morning and informed him that it’s best for everyone to make this move,” general manager John Elway said in a statement. “We appreciate all of Paxton’s hard work as a Bronco, and we wish him well in the future.” 

The move comes a day after the Broncos kept three quarterbacks on their active roster with Case Keenum as the starter, Chad Kelly as the backup, and Lynch as the third stringer. Except on Sunday, the Broncos claimed Kevin Hogan off waivers, which meant one of those three quarterbacks had to go. That quarterback ended up being Lynch.

With good reason. Lynch never developed into the quarterback the Broncos thought they were getting when they traded up to draft him 26th overall in 2016. In his first summer as a pro, he failed to beat out Trevor Siemian for the starting job. The same thing happened the following summer. Then, he fell behind Kelly on the depth chart this past preseason. Lynch appeared to save his job when he went 14 of 15 for 128 yards (8.5 YPA), two touchdowns, no picks, and a 141.8 passer rating against the Cardinals on Thursday, but the Broncos apparently decided that Hogan, a fifth-round pick in that same 2016 draft, was a better fit for their third quarterback spot — a spot most teams don’t usually even have.

And so, the Lynch era in Denver ends with five regular-season appearances, a 1-3 record as a starter, 792 passing yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 76.7 passer rating. Given his background as a first-round pick and the way the NFL works, it seems likely that a team will pick him up and take a chance on him. 

It wouldn’t be entirely shocking if that team is the Dallas Cowboys, who are lacking a quality backup. Remember, they wanted to draft Lynch back in 2016 before they settled for Dak Prescott. Their inability to get Lynch once haunted Jerry Jones, who is now probably giddy he waited for Prescott in the fourth round. Now, Jones has a chance to go get his former flame as a backup.

For the Broncos, cutting Lynch signals yet another miss by John Elway, who also drafted Brock Osweiler in the second round. Beyond just the quarterbacks, Elway’s recent draft history is problematic, which is one reason why the Broncos find themselves at the bottom of the AFC West. 

If Keenum replicates his incredible year from a year ago, Elway’s poor drafting might not matter much. But if Keenum reverts back to the quarterback he was before his emergence in Minnesota, Elway’s inability to solve the Broncos’ quarterback situation after Peyton Manning departed should come under fire. Elway was a great NFL quarterback, but he can’t seem to draft one.  

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