Paxton Lynch

Paxton Lynch To Be Active In Week 11

The Broncos have dressed the same two quarterbacks throughout the season, but on Sunday against the Bengals, the reeling team is set to change its structure.

Paxton Lynch will suit up for the first time this season, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter), adding that Trevor Siemian will be a healthy scratch for the first time since Peyton Manning retired.

Having lost five games in a row — each by double digits — the Broncos appear to be reaching the point of a rare season out of playoff contention down the stretch. This would seemingly give the team a window to give Lynch the extended audition he’s yet to have. A preseason shoulder injury shelved the former first-round pick for this season to date, but he stands to be Brock Osweiler‘s backup against Cincinnati.

Lynch made two starts last season, going 1-1, and replaced Siemian midway through an October 2016 win as well. At 3-6, the Broncos are teetering on the verge of being removed from realistic postseason contention. And Osweiler is only signed through this season. Siemian, who beat out Lynch for the starting job in consecutive seasons, is signed through 2018. Lynch can be controlled through the 2020 season.

Despite being a seventh-round pick, Siemian is 11-10 in two seasons as a starter. He earned the nod over Lynch in Week 17 of last season despite Denver being eliminated from playoff contention. Siemian guided the Broncos to a 3-1 start this season but lost his next three and was benched for Osweiler.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Osweiler, Cousins, Jim Harbaugh

The Broncos have tried to tinker their playbook a bit to suit Brock Osweiler‘s strengths, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). However, Rapoport calls tonight’s matchup with New England Osweiler’s final audition, and if he should continue to struggle, Paxton Lynch — who is reportedly getting healthier — will be given the chance to show what he can do.

Now for more rumors from the AFC (we rounded up some NFC nuggets earlier today):

  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes that the Jets‘ chances to acquire Kirk Cousins in the offseason improved after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco, thereby (presumably) taking the 49ers out of contention for Cousins’ services. Of course, it all depends on what Washington does, but Cimini thinks New York will make a major QB acquisition one way or another. He thinks the club will either pursue Cousins or another quality veteran (like Alex Smith, should he become available) or else trade up for one of the top signal-callers in the draft.
  • Browns LT Joe Thomas is battling an injured triceps that has knocked him out for the remainder of the season, and he remains undecided about his future, even though Cleveland gave him a pay raise for the 2018 season. As Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com writes, however, the Browns’ outlook could play a role in his decision. Thomas said, “Is it going to be for trying to pursue a championship or are we trying to pursue a playoff berth or are we trying to pursue a first pick overall? Those are all things that could play into that decision.”
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that, when the 49ers were considering trading former head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Browns offered San Francisco two third-round picks and offered Harbaugh a five-year, $40MM contract. Harbaugh, though, did not want to go to Cleveland, but sources close to the current University of Michigan head coach say his eventual return to the league is “inevitable.”
  • Rookie Gareon Conley might be the Raiders‘ most talented corner, but he has only been able to appear in two games in 2017 due to a shin injury that has taken longer than expected to heal. Per Scott Bair of NBCSports.com, Conley’s prospects for the remainder of the year will become clearer this week. If he is able to return to practice, he could work his way back into the mix. If not, Oakland will place him on injured reserve, thereby ending his first professional season.

AFC Notes: Luck, Fournette, Watson

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) says no one is exactly sure what the future holds for Colts QB Andrew Luck, who was recently placed on IR and ruled out for the remainder of the year. Per Rapoport, Luck has met with at least four doctors and has been advised that he should not throw for two to three months, though surgery is not in the cards at this point. Rapoport says all indications are that Luck will be healthy for the start of 2018, but Alex Marvez of Sporting News is not so optimistic. Because of the way the Colts publicly handled the situation, Marvez does not put much stock in reports that Luck will be ready to go by the start of 2018 — especially since he still cannot throw without soreness 10 months after surgery — and he says Indianapolis is facing the possibility of Luck never playing again at a high level and being on the hook for $87 million in salary guaranteed against injury. Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets that Luck will be reevaluated in December, and that the Colts are “not ignoring” the 2018 QB draft class.

On that sobering note, let’s take a look at more rumors from around the AFC:

  • The Colts claim that cornerback Vontae Davis is out for today’s game due to non-injury reasons, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears that is actually a cover-up for the fact that the Colts have not disclosed Davis’ lingering groin injury in recent weeks. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star says there is more to Davis’ absence than the team is letting on, but he believes Davis’ absence is due to personal reasons and is not injury-related.
  • Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette was deactivated for today’s game against the Bengals, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets that the star rookie missed treatment, a workout, and a team photo this week, which led to his benching. Head coach Doug Marrone is clearly trying to change the culture in Jacksonville, though Jags fans have to hope it doesn’t come at the expense of the team’s playoff push.
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Texans QB Deshaun Watson is expected to miss eight to nine months as a result of his ACL tear, though the last time he tore his ACL, he missed only five months, so Houston is hopeful for a shorter timeline.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Broncos QB Paxton Lynch is under consideration to start in the team’s Week 10 matchup against New England, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says (via Twitter) that report is inaccurate. Klis reports that Lynch is not yet physically ready and that Brock Osweiler will keep the job if he plays well.
  • As La Canfora writes in a separate piece, there are some Browns coaches who believe GM Sashi Brown intentionally scuttled the team’s near trade for A.J. McCarron, presumably because he believed the cost (a second- and third-round draft choice) was too high. Even if Brown is right about that, his efforts to intentionally sabotage the trade represent a massive breach of protocol and will only intensify the much-discussed rift between the team’s coaching staff and front office. But even if Brown did not act duplicitously, and even if the botched trade was simply due to human error, the fact that the coaching staff thinks Brown intentionally nixed the deal suggests things have gone beyond the point of no return in Cleveland.

Extra Points: Vikings, Zeke, Williams, Lynch

Sam Bradford does not have a return timetable after making a brief cameo in Chicago earlier this month. The Vikings quarterback is still experiencing knee pain, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). However, Minnesota may be set to finally have some quarterback depth again after its Week 9 bye. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to come off the PUP list after the bye, and Rapoport expects him to immediately compete with Case Keenum for the Vikes’ starting job. A mostly Keenum-led team this season, the Vikings lead the NFC North after their win over the Browns on Sunday. Bridgewater reclaiming his job might be a bit tricky considering where the team is in the standings and how long it’s been since the fourth-year passer was at the controls. But a Bridgewater return gives the Vikings options they don’t currently have with Bradford still on the mend.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Ezekiel Elliott did not travel with the Cowboys back to Dallas on Sunday night, instead trekking to New York for his seminal court date, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). Elliott did not attend his previous hearing with New York’s Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans earlier this month. The Cowboys star back rushed for more than 100 yards for a second straight week and has five touchdowns over the past two games but could see his suspension go into effect as early as next week if Monday goes poorly for his side.
  • Trent Williams is hoping the Redskins‘ bye week gives him time to heal his knee injury, but the Washington tackle isn’t certain that will do the trick, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Williams said earlier this month he’s hoping to put off surgery until after the season but revealed Sunday (via Keim) some doctors have told him that’s a six- to nine-month rehab process. Calling this a deep bone bruise, Williams added other medical personnel have said he can go the rest-and-recover route. So this bye week will be critical for the status of Washington’s injury-ravaged offensive line.
  • Speaking of left tackle injuries, Joe Staley suffered an orbital bone fracture Sunday. But the 11th-year 49ers edge blocker received a bit of good news, with Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reporting (via Twitter) no surgery will be required. Still, this could end any Staley trade speculation and keep him in San Francisco for another full season.
  • Paxton Lynch is no longer on the Broncos‘ injury report, and the second-year quarterback could be in uniform Monday night for the first time this season, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The Broncos have not received much help from their offense the past three games and have fallen to 3-3. The team obviously would be interested in getting its 2016 first-rounder on the field at some point, but Trevor Siemian won the job in the preseason. However, if the Broncos slink out of the playoff race as a result of a brutal upcoming schedule — the Chiefs, Eagles and Patriots represent Denver’s ensuing three games — Lynch could be summoned for a full-on audition.
  • Devon Still is considering retirement. The former Bengals rotational defensive lineman told TMZ he plans to decide in a couple of weeks if he will pursue a shot at another opportunity or not. The 28-year-old interior defender is currently a free agent, having last played with 2016 Texans. The Jets cut Still in August.
  • T.Y. Hilton is rumored to be on the trade block. Florio hears from multiple sources the NFL’s reigning receiving-yardage leader is available. Florio opines a future Hilton-type talent could come out of a mid-round draft pick, allowing the Colts — now run by a decision-maker in Chris Ballard who did not draft the sixth-year wide receiver — to offload Hilton’s $13MM-AAV contract and improve the roster with the savings.

Broncos QB Paxton Lynch To Miss Time

Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch is expected to miss “a couple” regular season contests while dealing with a shoulder sprain, head coach Vance Joseph told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter links)."<strong

If Lynch is sidelined for the early portion of the season, the Broncos would be forced to turn to 2017 undrafted rookie Kyle Sloter to act as Trevor Siemian‘s backup. The only other quarterback currently on the Denver roster is rookie Chad Kelly, who is on the non-football injury list. Kelly is expected to spend his first NFL season on injured reserve, so he isn’t an option to serve as a No. 2 quarterback.

If they aren’t comfortable rolling with Sloter as their only reserve signal-caller, the Broncos could look to the free agent market in search of another quarterback. Colin Kaepernick, whom Denver was interested in prior to the 2016 campaign, stands out as an obvious solution, and Joseph said “every option will be considered” when questioned specifically about Kaepernick, per Jhabvala. Other free agent passers include Christian Ponder (who spent time with the Broncos in 2015), Robert Griffin III, Shaun Hill, Zach Mettenberger, and Bruce Gradkowski.

Lynch, a first-round selection in 2016, lost Denver’s starting quarterback job to Siemian through his performance in training camp and the preseason. Given that he’s only set to miss a few games, Lynch probably isn’t a candidate for injured reserve/designated to return unless his injury worsens. Instead, the Broncos will be forced to carry at least three quarterbacks (Siemian, Lynch, and a backup) while Lynch recovers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Name Trevor Siemian Starting QB

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph has officially named Trevor Siemian as the club’s starting quarterback over Paxton Lynch, according to multiple reports. Former Denver receiver Brandon Stokley (now a 104.3 The Fan contributor) first reported the news earlier today (Twitter link).Trevor Siemian

“It’s a permanent decision,” said Joseph, tweets Mike Klis of 9News. “As for as Trevor being our guy, he’s our guy.”

Siemian, of course, won Denver’s quarterback job in 2016 even after general manager John Elway traded up in the first round to select Lynch with the 26th overall pick. A former seventh-round pick choice who spent his rookie campaign on the bench behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, Siemian responded by completing 59.5% of his passes for 3,401 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.

The Broncos didn’t attempt to hide Siemian in their offense, as the club ranked in the middle of the pack in percentage of passing plays (15th) and finished fifth in offensive pace. But Denver’s offense clearly struggled with Siemian at the helm: the unit only scored on 30.3% of its drives (26th in the league) and averaged just 5.3 plays per drive (29th). As a whole, the Broncos ranked 22nd in points and 28th in DVOA, both of which represented dips from the team’s 2015 performance.

All that said, it’s not readily apparent that the 23-year-old Lynch would constitute a significant upgrade. The Broncos, under new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, presumably gave Lynch every chance to win Denver’s quarterback gig before handing the duty to Siemian. And Lynch didn’t perform all that well in relief of Siemian last season, either: in two starts, Lynch completed 59% of his passes for 497 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, making his quarterback rating of 79.2 about five points worse than Siemian’s figure.

What this decision means for Lynch’s future isn’t entirely clear at the moment, but he’ll join an ignominious list of first-round quarterbacks who failed to start their respective club’s season opener in their second NFL season, as Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders tweets. Lynch is under contract for two more years, and the Broncos also hold a fifth-year option for the 2019 campaign. Siemian, meanwhile, is under team control through only 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Douglas, Osweiler

Broncos QB Paxton Lynch did not play particularly well in last night’s preseason contest against the 49ers. He completed 9-of-13 passes for just 39 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions, which culminated in a 72.3 quarterback rating. He also rushed three times for 27 yards. While he showed some promise, he also displayed difficulties reading and reacting to defenses, and he was thoroughly outplayed by Trevor Siemian, leading Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post to believe that Denver’s quarterback competition may be over and that Siemian may have won it for the second straight year. Head coach Vance Joseph said it would be ideal to name a winner prior to next week’s third preseason game, but he added, “The timeframe is not important. What’s important is we get it right, so it could be this week, it could be next week. But we’re going to go back and watch the tape and see where we are.” 

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the AFC:

  • Chiefs running back Charcandrick West is one of the most popular players in the Kansas City clubhouse, but thanks to the emergence of rookie Kareem Hunt and the revival of C.J. Spiller, his roster spot is in jeopardy, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes. The Chiefs could keep four running backs, but Paylor suggests that is somewhat unlikely unless the team is confident West or Spiller could also line up as a slot receiver if necessary.
  • Titans wideout Harry Douglas managed just 15 catches for 210 yards and no touchdowns last year, and he accepted a $2MM paycut this offseason, which, combined with Tennessee’s revitalization of its WR corps, suggests that Douglas’ days in Nashville could be numbered. But as Jason Wolf of the Tennessean writes, head coach Mike Mularkey considers Douglas “invaluable,” and the coaching staff prizes his vocal and veteran presence, consistent route-running, and capable blocking. As such, Wolf believes Douglas may actually be a lock to make the roster, though his playing time will again be limited.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the game still looks a little too fast for DeShone Kizer, so she believes Brock Osweiler has the inside track to open the season as the Browns‘ starting quarterback, which is consistent with reports we have been hearing over the past several weeks.
  • In a piece discussing Maxx Williams‘ promising performance during the Ravens‘ preseason victory over the Dolphins Thursday night, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun wrote that Williams is competing with Larry Donnell and Vince Mayle for Baltimore’s No. 3 TE job (behind Ben Watson and Nick Boyle). Williams, a 2015 second-round selection, underwent unique and serious knee surgery last year, but he easily has the most promise of any tight end on the roster. Even if he is technically competing for the No. 3 job at the moment, more performances like the one he had on Thursday could catapult him up the depth chart.
  • Former Ravens LB Zach Orr, who recently announced he was hanging up his cleats for good, could be rejoining Baltimore in another capacity. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com says head coach John Harbaugh is interested in bringing Orr back as a scout or coach.

AFC Rumors: Broncos, Fins, Glenn, Raiders

It’s not exactly a secret the Broncos are hoping their 2016 first-round pick takes the quarterback reins by Week 1, but Paxton Lynch has yet to offer much evidence he’s ready to do that. The obvious caveat of the Broncos being yet to begin their preseason slate applies, but Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com notes Trevor Siemian is in control of this job by default. Broncos staffers aren’t sensing a different vibe from this competition compared to last season, Robinson reports, adding current Broncos personnel view Siemian in front of this race due to Lynch’s inconsistency.

While the Broncos would still hold out hope for Lynch to seize this job at some point in the season, he has lost “every single practice” to the less heralded Siemian, Robinson writes. Siemian’s backstory as a seventh-round pick holding off a player of Lynch’s pedigree for a second season would be interesting for a Broncos team expected to again rely on its defense, but as of now the ex-Northwestern part-time quarterback has a legitimate chance to keep the job.

Here’s the latest out of the AFC:

  • Two anonymous agents told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald any possible Dolphins overtures to coax Ryan Tannehill into a pay cut are likely to be met with a rejection on agent Pat Dye’s part. Only $5.25MM in injury guarantees remain on Tannehill’s deal, which runs through 2020. Tannehill’s 2018 salary ($17.5MM) becomes guaranteed on the fifth day of the next league year. And although there may be higher-end quarterbacks available in 2018 compared to the past several years, they would likely cost more per year than Tannehill’s deal requires, Jackson writes.
  • The Raiders return their entire starting secondary from last season, but they are not using Sean Smith as a first-unit player presently. Smith worked as a reserve corner on Sunday while the team shuttled rookie UDFA Breon Borders into the fray. Jack Del Rio confirmed this was a performance-based promotion for Borders, via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). David Amerson and T.J. Carrie worked as the starting corners, with Borders at nickel, per Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area (via Twitter). The 6-foot-3 Smith has been used as a boundary corner for years, and Carrie patrolled the slot for the Raiders after D.J. Hayden went down last season. This marked the third day Carrie played ahead of Smith, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Smith’s $9.25MM salary is guaranteed for 2017, while no guaranteed money remains on the 30-year-old defender’s four-year deal after this season. Gareon Conley has yet to factor into this equation.
  • Cordy Glenn returned to Bills practice Sunday after a bout of ongoing foot trouble, and the sixth-year left tackle said he would “hopefully” be ready to go by Week 1, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Ankle and foot injuries have dogged Glenn since last season. He recently received a second opinion from a specialist in Charlotte.
  • The Chiefs worked out defensive lineman Connor Wujciak on Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Originally a UDFA with the Eagles in 2016, Wujciak missed all of his would-be rookie season with a shoulder injury. The Eagles waived him in February.

AFC Rumors: Browns, Broncos, Patriots, Jags

Jabrill Peppers is one of only 11 2017 draft choices who has yet to sign his rookie deal, and offset language is likely to blame for the contractual holdup with the Browns, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Offset language, as a reminder, can allow a player to “double dip” if he’s waived by his original club, as it enables him to collect a salary from a new team without that total being offset. Neither of Cleveland’s other two first-round picks — defensive end Myles Garrett and tight end David Njoku — were able to remove offset language from their deals, so the Browns are likely attempting to maintain precedent with Peppers.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch is now in a better position to challenge Trevor Siemian for the Broncos‘ starting job after an exemplary performance during the final two weeks of Denver’s offseason program, according to Mike Klis of 9News. Per Klis, while Lynch can’t be considered to have “overtaken” Siemian just yet, a “switch flipped” for the 2016 first-round selection. “Yeah, I mean the more reps I’m getting with these guys, the more I get to go against the defense and see the looks live compared to just on paper, it’s helping me a lot,’’ Lynch said. “I think each practice I’ve progressively got better.’’
  • New signee David Harris is nearly a lock to make the Patriots‘ roster after agreeing to a two-year, $5MM deal last week, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com explains in a pair of articles. More of a luxury addition than a need-based signing, Harris is likely to play in base formations alongside fellow linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The former Jet can also serve as insurance for Hightower, who hasn’t played a full 16-game slate since 2013. Meanwhile, Harris’ signing doesn’t figure to materially affect the role of other New England ‘backers such as Shea McClellin, who will still be working primarily in the passing game.
  • If Blake Bortles struggles to begin the 2017 season, the Jaguars could choose to employ the Robert Griffin III treatment: pluck Bortles on the bench so an injury doesn’t require the club to pay its quarterback nearly $20MM in 2018 under the terms of his fifth-year option, per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. Fifth-year options are guaranteed for injury only, meaning Jacksonville could cut Bortles before the 2018 league year unless he can’t pass a physical. Washington didn’t allow RG3 to see the field in 2015 for fear that an injury would cost it significant money.

Broncos Notes: Charles, Barrett, McKenzie

Although the Broncos could potentially be without Shaquil Barrett into the early part of the regular season, the team does not presently plan to use free agency to help fill its temporary need for more outside pass-rushing help, Vance Joseph said (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, on Twitter). As of now, the plan is for the team to use the outside linebackers it has to compensate for its No. 3 edge rusher’s absence. Beyond Barrett, Denver has newly signed Kasim Edebali — whom the Saints did not tender as an RFA this offseason. Edebali recorded five sacks in 2015, the same year Barrett registered 5.5 in being the fill-in player for DeMarcus Ware, who was injured around midseason. Second-year UDFA Vontarrius Dora is also an edge option. Pro Football Focus rated Barrett as the Broncos’ No. 2 edge defender last season, ahead of Ware and Shane Ray.

As far as free agency goes, should Denver decide to go that route, former Broncos All-Pro Elvis Dumervil was the latest to come off the market. After today’s 49ers/Dumervil agreement, players like Erik Walden, Trent Cole and Paul Kruger are notable veterans unsigned. Mario Williams remains unattached, but he has not shown plus form in years. Dwight Freeney said he’s discussed a deal with the Falcons. They’re the only team that’s been connected to the 37-year-old UFA this offseason, however.

Here’s more from the Mile High City.

  • Jamaal Charles did some light running back drills Monday, strapping on a Broncos helmet for the first time, Jhabvala reports, adding the 10th-year back is not full-go yet. Joseph maintains the 30-year-old runner is still on track for camp, but part of the goal is to rebuild strength in Charles’ legs. Joseph told media today one of Charles’ quads was “really weak” when he first signed with the Broncos in early May but added the two-time All-Pro is “getting closer.” Charles underwent surgeries on both menisci last year following a 2015 season that a torn ACL cut short.
  • Noting Trevor Siemian has been better on more of the OTA days than Paxton Lynch has, Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post notes Lynch had the better day today while Siemian struggled. Wolfe called it Lynch’s best day of OTAs thus far.
  • The Broncos used a fifth-round pick on a 5-foot-7 wide receiver who figures to see his primary role come in the return game, but Joseph said Isaiah McKenzie will “obviously” be used in the slot and could be stationed in the backfield at times as well, via Mike Klis of 9News. McKenzie scored six return touchdowns (five on punts) in three seasons at Georgia but also led the Bulldogs in receiving yards as a junior last season. The Broncos made a concerted effort to add players who could help as auxiliary pass-catchers by drafting Carlos Henderson and Jake Butt as well.