The Broncos gave up on Paxton Lynch on Sunday, releasing a quarterback they had traded up in the first round of the 2016 draft to acquire. Denver made the move after using a waiver claim to pick up quarterback Kevin Hogan, who was released the day before by the Redskins.
Broncos General Manager John Elway said in a statement that he and head Coach Vance Joseph “met with Paxton this morning and informed him that it’s best for everyone to make this move.” Elway added, “We appreciate all of Paxton’s hard work as a Bronco, and we wish him well in the future.”
The 6-foot-7, 244-pound Lynch, who gained notice for his strong arm and mobility at Memphis, was considered something of a project at the time he was drafted, because of his relative lack of familiarity with pro-style concepts. However, having arrived in Denver in the wake of Peyton Manning’s retirement and Brock Osweiler’s defection to the Texans, he has had numerous opportunities to win the starting job but has looked unimpressive in limited action.
Over two seasons, during which the Broncos gave most of their quarterback work to former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian, with Osweiler returning last season after disappointing elsewhere, Lynch made four starts. He completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 792 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, with a 6.2 yards-per-attempt average and a 76.7 passer rating.
Lynch was coming off a statistically impressive performance in the Broncos’ final preseason game, in which he completed 14 of 15 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns, but it was apparently too little, too late. Over the previous three preseason games, which traditionally are more meaningful, he was outplayed by Chad Kelly, the 253rd and final selection of the 2017 draft who sat out his rookie season after wrist surgery.
Kelly is now the backup to Case Keenum, a former Viking signed by Denver in the offseason, but Elway said Saturday that Kelly’s inexperience meant that the team wanted to keep three quarterbacks on its depth chart. That reasoning had saved Lynch’s spot on the roster through the cutdowns every team had to make by Saturday to get to 53 players, but once Hogan became available, Denver pounced on a second-year prospect who has shown some promise in his own limited time on the field.
Elway may have been swayed by Hogan’s performance as a Redskin against the Broncos in August, when the teams met in a preseason game. In that contest, the former Stanford star, selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, completed seven of nine passes for 88 yards and two scores.
Over his other three preseason games with Washington, Hogan completed 36 of 58 passes for 374 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. In eight regular season appearances for the Browns, Hogan completed 60 of 101 passes for 621 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions, adding 18 carries for 176 yards and a score.
Before releasing Lynch, the Broncos tried to trade him, but the Cowboys and Panthers were among the teams who declined to make an offer, according to Mike Klis of Denver’s 9News. Dallas had reportedly been interested in trading up for Lynch in the 2016 draft, but after the Broncos beat it to the punch, the team wound up taking that season’s AP offensive rookie of the year, Dak Prescott, in the fourth round.
In another move Sunday, Denver placed Su’a Cravens on injured reserve with a left knee injury. The Broncos acquired the second-year safety/linebacker from the Redskins in a March trade.
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