Denver Broncos: Chad Kelly’s promotion the end of Paxton Lynch?
Is Chad Kelly’s promotion to second on the Denver Broncos’ depth chart at quarterback going to be the end of Paxton Lynch?
The NFL is a performance-based business, and the Denver Broncos have seen more in the performance department from Chad Kelly than former first-round pick Paxton Lynch, at this point.
Lynch’s first-round draft status does not matter anymore as the Broncos have given him countless opportunities to seize even the primary backup role with the team.
In his rookie year, he was (not unexpectedly) beaten out by former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian, whose year of experience in Gary Kubiak’s offense proved to be a huge difference maker after Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler left.
In 2017, Lynch again failed to beat Siemian, and then was hurt in the team’s third preseason game, causing him to miss most of the regular season.
Brock Osweiler was the team’s second quarterback most of the season and when the Broncos realized they weren’t making the postseason, they prepped Lynch for a stretch of starts just to see what they would have going forward.
He was hurt in the first start he was given and didn’t play again until week 17.
Now, here we are just weeks away from the start of the 2018 season, and Lynch has been given every second-team rep at OTAs and training camp until this week.
After Lynch failed to string together any stretch of positive passing plays against the Vikings in the Broncos’ preseason opener, the team pulled the plug.
The sample size is small, but it’s large enough at this point and Lynch has regressed considerably from the first snap he took in 2016 to the last snap he took against the Vikings.
He will get another shot against the Bears’ third stringers on Saturday, but is Chad Kelly’s promotion the end of Lynch?
It really seems like it.
John Elway made a radio appearance in which he seemed to confirm the Broncos have at least had discussions about bringing in a veteran quarterback.
Elway was asked whether the team was planning on getting a veteran to pair with Kelly or Lynch and he said they were ‘working through the process’.
The logic of bringing in a veteran quarterback is pretty simple, though the Broncos sort of screwed themselves over by trading away Trevor Siemian (though there were likely other reasons for doing so rather than just football).
If the worst case scenario plays out and Case Keenum goes down on the first play of the first game of the season, it’s unwise to have a guy who has never played an NFL regular season snap before (Chad Kelly) replace your big money free agent.
Brandon Keckler and I discussed this on the latest episode of The Juice, which you can listen to here:
Andrew Wade had a great post looking at veteran quarterbacks the Broncos could consider, and I tend to agree with his assessment that Matt Moore is the most likely player the team will bring in.
It’s safe to say at this point that Lynch is a massive draft disappointment, and as soon as his days as a Bronco are over (that appears to be on the near horizon), he will receive the dreaded ‘bust’ label.
Lynch has not done enough to earn a backup spot over Kelly, though no one here at Predominantly Orange assumed beating out Kelly was going to be an easy task.
Kelly was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school and college, and if not for injuries and off-field issues he probably would have been selected much higher than the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kelly has shown skills worth developing. Lynch simply has not. We’re not privy to every snap in practice, but if Vance Joseph is saying that the Broncos are basing this decision off of Kelly’s play dating back to the Spring, it’s clear that Lynch is not worth the trouble anymore.
Though cutting him would be a massive sunken cost for the Broncos, he’s out of practice squad eligibility and the team can’t justify keeping him on the roster over a vastly superior player at this point.
If the Broncos had to choose between keeping Lynch over a guy like, say, Isaiah McKenzie right now, the choice would be clear.
McKenzie could help the team, and Lynch can’t.
This is where the very difficult aspect of swallowing your pride as a general manager comes into play. The Broncos had an excellent draft in 2018 but Elway has struggled on day one and two over the past few years.
That said, I do not fault him for the pick of Paxton Lynch. It was the correct move at the time. It just didn’t work out.
If Kelly ends up working out, no one is going to care anyway.