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Three questions about Paxton Lynch and keeping a third-string quarterback

We have some serious questions about Denver Broncos third-string quarterback Paxton Lynch heading into the 2018 season.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With the demotion of Paxton Lynch to the third string and questions about his ability to perform even minimally competently as an NFL quarterback, there has been many questions raised about the back-up quarterback position for the 2018 Denver Broncos.

Here are the three biggest in my opinion:

  1. Are the coaches willing to go into the season with only two QBs on the 53-man roster? So this would mean that the team trades or releases Paxton Lynch. While it is uncommon, it is not strange to do so. There were 13 of 32 NFL teams last season that begun the year with only two QBs on the 53-man active roster: MIA, NE, BAL, CIN, HOU, TEN, PHI, WAS, DET, GNB, ATL, TB and SEA. If the Broncos enter the season with Chad Kelly is the only other QB on the team besides Case Keenum, that would be putting a lot of faith in a QB that has never taken an NFL snap as the #2 QB. Did any team do this last year? The answer is NO, with two limited exceptions. In almost every situation last season where a team started the season with only two QBs on the active roster, the backup was a guy with at least some NFL game experience: MIA - Matt Moore; NE - Jimmy Garappolo; BAL - Ryan Mallett; CIN - A.J. McCarron; HOU - Tom Savage; TEN - Matt Cassel; WAS - Colt McCoy; PHI - Nick Foles; ATL - Matt Schaub; TB - Ryan Fitzpatrick; SEA - Austin Davis. All of those second stringers had at least some starting experience. The only two teams that rolled with guys similar to Chad Kelly as the #2 QB were DET with Jake Rudock and GNB with Brett Hundley (who had thrown 10 NFL passes in career prior to 2017).
  2. Do we just keep Paxton Lynch as the #3 QB? Generally you want your #2 to be the veteran who could be minimally competent if you are forced, by injury, to start him. That is why you see so many journeyman vets hanging around the league. The are at least known quantities who have started NFL games and maybe even “won” a few of them. Paxton Lynch has yet to show that he is even a minimally competent NFL QB, so keeping as the #3 option, given his complete lack of development, would be a waste of a very valuable roster spot.
  3. Who is available and who might be available as a veteran to bring in? There are currently 118 NFL QBs on 90-man rosters. There were only 83 at the start of the 2017 season (not counting QBs on practice squads), so there are about to be roughly 35 QBs who are unemployed. There are also veterans who are not currently on 90-man rosters like Ryan Mallett, Matt Moore, Scott Tolzein, Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, T.J. Yates and Josh Johnson. All of those QBs have started NFL games; some have even “won” playoff games.

In case you are interested here is the current QB depth chart for every NFL team:

TEAM 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
BUF McCarron, AJ U/Cin Peterman, Nathan 17/5 Allen, Josh 18/1
MIA TANNEHILL, RYAN 12/1 Osweiler, Brock U/Den Fales, David SF17 Petty, Bryce W/NYJ
NE BRADY, TOM 00/6 HOYER, BRIAN CF09 Etling, Danny 18/7
NYJ MCCOWN, JOSH SF17 Bridgewater, Teddy U/Min Darnold, Sam 18/1
BAL FLACCO, JOE 08/1 Griffin III, Robert SF18 Jackson, Lamar 18/1 Woodrum, Josh SF17
CIN DALTON, ANDY 11/2 Barkley, Matt U/Arz Driskel, Jeff W/SF Woodside, Logan 18/7
CLE Taylor, Tyrod T/Buf Mayfield, Baker 18/1 STANTON, DREW U/Arz Roback, Brogan CF18
PIT ROETHLISBERGER, BEN 04/1 Jones, Landry 13/4 Dobbs, Joshua 17/4 Rudolph, Mason 18/3
HOU Watson, Deshaun 17/1 WEEDEN, BRANDON U/Ten WEBB, JOE U/Buf Morris, Stephen W/Sea
IND Luck, Andrew 12/1 Brissett, Jacoby T/NE Walker, Phillip CF17 Kaaya, Brad P/Det
JAX Bortles, Blake 14/1 Kessler, Cody T/Cle Lee, Tanner 18/6
TEN Mariota, Marcus 15/1 Gabbert, Blaine U/Arz Falk, Luke 18/6
DEN KEENUM, CASE U/Min Kelly, Chad 17/7 Lynch, Paxton 16/1
KC Mahomes II, Patrick 17/1 HENNE, CHAD U/Jax McGloin, Matt SF18 Litton, Chase CF18
LAC RIVERS, PHILIP T/NYG Smith, Geno U/NYG Jones, Cardale T/Buf Shimonek, Nic CF18
OAK Carr, Derek 14/2 Cook, Connor 16/4 Manuel, EJ U/Buf
DAL Prescott, Dak 16/4 Rush, Cooper CF17 White, Mike 18/5 Sturm, Dalton CF18
NYG MANNING, ELI T/SD Webb, Davis 17/3 Lauletta, Kyle 18/4 TANNEY, ALEX SF18
PHI Wentz, Carson 16/1 Foles, Nick U/KC Sudfeld, Nate SF17 Callahan, Joe SF18 Hackenberg, Christian SF18
CHI Trubisky, Mitch 17/1 DANIEL, CHASE U/NO Bray, Tyler U/KC
GNB RODGERS, AARON 05/1 Hundley, Brett 15/5 Kizer, DeShone T/Cle Boyle, Tim CF18
MIN COUSINS, KIRK U/Was Siemian, Trevor T/Den Sloter, Kyle CF17 Pujals, Peter CF18
ATL RYAN, MATT 08/1 SCHAUB, MATT U/Bal Benkert, Kurt CF18 Grayson, Garrett SF17
CAR Newton, Cam 11/1 Gilbert, Garrett SF17 Heinicke, Taylor W/Hou Allen, Kyle CF18
NOR BREES, DREW U/SD Savage, Tom U/Hou Hill, Taysom W/GB Barrett, JT CF18
TAM Winston, Jameis SUS/3 FITZPATRICK, RYAN SF17 Griffin, Ryan W/NO Allen, Austin CF18
ARI BRADFORD, SAM U/Min Rosen, Josh 18/1 Glennon, Mike CC/Chi Kanoff, Chad CF18
LAR Goff, Jared 16/1 Mannion, Sean 15/3 Allen, Brandon W/Jax Perez, Luis CF18
SF Garoppolo, Jimmy T/NE Beathard, CJ 17/3 Mullens, Nick CF17 Heneghan, Jack CF18
SEA Wilson, Russell 12/3 Davis, Austin SF17 McGough, Alex 18/7

So how do you see this playing out? For what it’s worth, Case Keenum is listed as a medium injury risk.

He had a ligament problem in the thumb of his throwing hand in 2013 and he got concussed in 2015 (but remained in the game).