Paxton Lynch

Steelers GM Fine With Backup QB Situation

The Steelers did not draft a quarterback and have not signed a veteran this offseason, and GM Kevin Colbert elaborated on why recently.

Not only did the Steelers’ 21st-year GM confirm the team did not make an offer to Jameis Winston, he said the Steelers intend to go forward with the backups they used last season. Pittsburgh has former third-round pick Mason Rudolph and ex-UDFA Devlin Hodges under contract. Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch is as well, though he did not play last season.

We’re comfortable with Mason Rudolph as a backup and Devlin Hodges in the mix. Between the two of them, they were 8-6 last year,” Colbert said during an appearance on the #PFTPM podcast (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “You get into a backup quarterback situation, 8-6 is not 14-0 but there’s some comfort in knowing that they can get you through the hopefully nonexistent spell that may occur if your quarterback gets injured.”

The Steelers make sense for a veteran, with Ben Roethlisberger coming off elbow surgery in advance of his age-38 season. His two backups oversaw a last-place offensive DVOA season. The Steelers ranked sixth in offensive DVOA in 2018, when Big Ben started 16 games, but plummeted to last in 2019 after his Week 2 injury. The Steelers’ improved defense (third in DVOA) played a significant part in the team’s eight wins. Rudolph and Hodges tied for last place in Next Gen Stats’ average completed air yards metric, with each at 4.5 per completion.

Cam Newton is now believed to be open to being a backup in the right situation. Though, Newton has dealt with more injury trouble than Roethlisberger has in recent years. Joe Flacco is now shelved until perhaps September. Other veterans available include Blake Bortles, Geno Smith, Trevor Siemian, Mike Glennon and Drew Stanton.

Colbert attributed part of his team’s lack of interest in veterans to its salary cap situation. The Steelers hold $5.7MM in cap space and have yet to sign any of their draft picks. Although Pittsburgh frequently restructures contracts to create cap room, the team is not planning to change up its Roethlisberger-Rudolph-Hodges QB room for the time being.

Lot of times when we get into salary cap management and you have significant dollars in your starter, it’s hard to put a lot of dollars in your backup,” Colbert said. “We’re very comfortable knowing if need be Mason and Devlin and/or Devlin and Mason and even Paxton Lynch, who’s got No. 1 talent. We’ll see what we got, but we’re comfortable with that right now.”

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AFC North Notes: Burrow, Stefanski, Ravens

The Bengals are widely expected to take LSU QB Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, but there may be a bit of intrigue in that regard, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Burrow will work with former Bengal Jordan Palmer, the little brother of franchise icon Carson Palmer, for his pre-draft training. And the elder Palmer recently had some critical comments for Cincinnati, saying that the club was never really dedicated to chasing a Super Bowl.

Burrow subsequently said the following: “[y]ou want to go No. 1. But you also want to go to a great organization that is committed to winning. Committed to winning Super Bowls.” That may just be a coincidence, and Burrow’s father recently downplayed any notion that Burrow doesn’t want to be picked by the Bengals (Twitter link via Jeremy Rauch of FOX 19), but Breer believes Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin may need to sell Burrow on the team just a bit.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • As expected, the Bengals have promoted Dan Pitcher to quarterbacks coach after Alex Van Pelt left for Cleveland’s OC job, the team announced. Pitcher will have a significant role in Burrow’s development, assuming Cincy selects the LSU signal-caller.
  • We passed along some remarks from new Browns GM Andrew Berry earlier today, and new Cleveland HC Kevin Stefanski also took to the podium. Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com passes along the entire transcript, which is worth a read for Browns fans, but much of it was fairly non-committal coach-speak, which Stefanski has already mastered. Stefanski, though, made it a point to note that he will be heavily involved in making personnel decisions with Berry, and he said he does not know who will be calling offensive plays this year.
  • Though the Ravens have more cap flexibility this year than in past seasons, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic does not expect a spending spree. He predicts perhaps one big-ticket item and a few modest signings, and much will depend on what the club decides to do with pass rusher Matt Judon — a situation that is still fluid — and whether RG Marshal Yanda retires. He also names OL James Hurst as a potential release candidate.
  • Steelers president Art Rooney II indicated his club may target a RB and/or WR in free agency, per Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, though Rooney said Pittsburgh is content with the quarterback situation as it is. Behind Ben Roethlisberger, the club will roll with some combination of Mason Rudolph, Duck Hodges, and Paxton Lynch.

Steelers Promote QB Paxton Lynch

For the first time since the Broncos’ 2017 finale, Paxton Lynch will return to an active roster. The Steelers promoted him in advance of their Week 6 game in Los Angeles.

With Mason Rudolph ruled out, the former first-round pick will serve as Devlin Hodges‘ backup. Lynch caught on with the Steelers’ practice squad earlier this season. Pittsburgh has lost both Rudolph and Ben Roethlisberger to injury in five games. Both Hodges and Lynch were in-season roster additions.

One of the bigger first-round miscalculations in modern NFL history, Lynch spent 2018 out of football after the Broncos waived him in September 2018. He caught on with the Seahawks via reserve/futures contract but did not beat out Geno Smith for their backup job. The Steelers added the former No. 26 overall pick as an in-case-of-emergency option, but Earl Thomas‘ hit on Rudolph made Pittsburgh exercise its emergency scenario.

The Steelers also promoted running back Trey Edmunds and waived outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott and guard Fred Johnson. Edmunds is the brother of Steelers safety starter Terrell Edmunds.

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Steelers Sign Paxton Lynch To P-Squad

Paxton Lynch will have another opportunity to develop, this time for a team that’s seen its biggest shakeup at quarterback in 15 years. The Steelers added Lynch to their practice squad Tuesday.

The former Broncos first-round pick has not come particularly close to justifying that No. 26 overall investment, being out of football in 2018 and failing to make the Seahawks’ roster this year. He will represent insurance and depth for a Steelers team that lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season.

Mason Rudolph is set to start, with recent UDFA Devlin Hodges being promoted from the practice squad Monday. The Steelers are believed to be on the lookout for a veteran backup to work behind Rudolph; Lynch obviously does not profile as that. As of now, Rudolph, Hodges and Lynch are the only healthy QBs the Steelers employ.

The Seahawks opted for Geno Smith over Lynch this season. The Broncos waived Lynch after claiming Chad Kelly last summer.

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Steelers To Meet With Paxton Lynch

The Steelers are set to meet with Paxton Lynch, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The former first-round pick could help to reinforce their QB room in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger‘s season-ending elbow injury.

Lynch flamed out with the Broncos after being drafted in 2016 and was cut loose early in 2018. He was out of football for the rest of the season and was not able to stick with the Seahawks this year.

If signed, Lynch would serve as the QB2 behind new starter, Mason Rudolph. For now, Rudolph is backstopped by undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges.

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Seahawks Waive Paxton Lynch

The Paxton Lynch experiment in Seattle is over. The Seahawks have waived the former first-round pick quarterback, a source told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link).

With Lynch being cut, that means that Geno Smith has won the right to carry Russell Wilson‘s clipboard during the regular season. Condotta writes that the Seahawks “may try to keep Lynch on the practice squad.” Lynch drew some positive reviews earlier this preseason, but he melted down in the team’s fourth and final game. He completed just one of seven passes for four yards, which likely sealed his fate if it wasn’t sealed already.

The Broncos drafted the Memphis product 26th overall back in 2016, and he never panned out in Denver. He never got a chance to be the full-time starter, a feat very rare for first-round quarterbacks. During his time with the Broncos he started a total of four games, tossing four touchdowns and four interceptions while averaging only 6.2 yards per attempt.

After spending the entire 2018 season out of football, he signed with the Seahawks in January. Lynch has plenty of athleticism and can make the occasional splashy play, but has never been able to put it all together. There have been questions about his maturity, and he’s running out of chances to show he can deliver on his potential.

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Release Candidates: Seahawks QBs Geno Smith, Paxton Lynch

The Seahawks’ quarterback room has some serious name value. Behind starter Russell Wilson, the club is currently rostering both Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch

The odds of both players making the final cut is slim. Historically, the Seahawks have carried only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and both players have their warts.

Smith, a former second-round pick of the Jets, has yet to do much at the pro level. Once positioned as the Jets’ starting quarterback, his last attempt at NFL relevance was stopped by the fist of a teammate and a subsequently broken jaw. Lynch, a former first-round pick of the Broncos, lost the starting QB competition twice to former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian.

To date, Lynch has four career starts on his resume with a 61.7% completion rate, 792 passing yards yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. Smith – who has 40 career appearances with 31 starts – hasn’t fared much better in a larger sample. He’s completed 57.7% of his throws with just 29 touchdowns against 36 picks.

One of these QBs will probably be out of Seattle by the time September rolls around, and there’s a chance that both will be gone. Last year, the Seahawks traded for Brett Hundley in the preseason and installed him as Wilson’s backup, so the Seahawks’ next No. 2 QB could be with another team as of this writing.

If things don’t work out for Lynch or Smith, they’ll have options. Despite their missteps, they’re both on the right side of 30 and may still hold appeal for evaluators who considered drafting them just a few years ago. And, if an NFL opportunity doesn’t present itself, both players may find a home in the upstart XFL.

We’re watching the backup quarterback camp battles. One of these guys is going to get cut,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said of the Smith/Lynch situation. “There’s a bunch of those going on. We might not get all of those guys, the quote-unquote loser of those, but a Geno or Paxton is not going to end up on a practice squad. There are a bunch of 3-4-5-year guys that are in that boat. They’ve been on rosters, practice squad, been yo-yo’d two years. They need to play, and that’s my argument to them, that it’s very doable here.”

Both players have just $25K guaranteed on their one-year deals, so the Seahawks wouldn’t lose much by releasing either player.

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XFL Commish Talks AAF, Recruiting, QBs

World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon is the big name associated with the upcoming XFL, but the league’s commissioner has the difficult job of building a successful infrastructure. Fortunately, Oliver Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, is more than qualified for the position; following an NFL career, Luck earned his law degree before running MLS teams and collegiate programs.

Luck is now tasked with running an alternative option to the NFL, something that several of the league’s predecessors have failed to do. Several months ago, it looked like the XFL would be going head-to-head with the Alliance of American Football, but now they’re the only reputable spring league. The eight teams are already ramping up their efforts for a 2020 debut, and each organization has a head coach in place.

Now, the league is turning their attention to attracting players. In October, about 300 participants from the XFL’s Summer Showcase will be signed and entered into a draft pool, at which time the eight teams will fill the “bottom half” of their rosters. The league will look to fill the rest of their rosters with players who are cut loose by NFL squads following the preseason (more than 850 players will be released at that time). The XFL will have another chance to add players in January, when practice squads end and players aren’t retained via futures contracts.

Luck talked with Greg Auman of The Athletic about the XFL’s plan for recruiting players and what he’s learned from the AAF. The entire article is worth a read, but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below.

On what he learned from the defunct Alliance of American Football, which is still dealing with fallout despite shutting down in April:

“I was speaking with Vince, and one of the questions he asked was ‘What are you worried about?’ I said ‘I think schedule-wise, etc., we’re in pretty good shape, but I do worry though about players’ motivations after the other league collapsed.’ I’m really looking forward to all these showcases, today included, to talk to these guys and it’s been very refreshing to see they just want to play more football. They know where our eight teams are, they know who our head coaches are, they trust we’re going to have a game that’s not too outlandish or crazy. To see the motivation and excitement these guys have has been good for us. It took away any doubt I had that players might say ‘Oh, gosh, another spring league. I don’t want to do that. They never make it.’ That sort of thing. That was important.”

On both the successes and failures of the AAF:

“We watched them closely. Personally, there was no dancing on the grave, no schadenfreude. I was hoping they’d make it through their championship game. … It’s helped us a little bit, reaffirmed our model. The AAF also made some mistakes. (The Apollos), in the sports business, that’s like a pilot forgetting to turn the engine on.”

On NFL-ineligible collegiate players who may spurn the NCAA for professional football (the NFL requires players to be at least three years out of high school):

“We won’t have many, but we’ll have a couple. They’ll be some guys with college eligibility still who say ‘I’d rather go earn sixty grand’ … anybody is eligible. Having said that, as I’ve said to our head coaches, I want to make sure the younger guy is physically, mentally, emotionally mature enough to play. If you’ve got a guy who played a year of ball at Florida State, got a lot of snaps and stuff.”

On whether the NFL is focused on attracting younger players or veterans:

“We have to be able to make sure that some of the older guys can make it through, to be blunt. We have to make sure some of younger guys know what it means to be a professional. I think there will be a combination of guys. We want to be a league of opportunity.”

On attracting (relatively) big-name quarterbacks to join the XFL (Luck specifically focused on the Seahawks backup gig between Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch, noting that the “loser” could realistically make just as much money in the alternative league):

“We’re watching the backup quarterback camp battles. One of these guys is going to get cut. There’s a bunch of those going on. We might not get all of those guys, the quote-unquote loser of those, but a Geno or Paxton is not going to end up on a practice squad. There are a bunch of 3-4-5-year guys that are in that boat. They’ve been on rosters, practice squad, been yo-yo’d two years. They need to play, and that’s my argument to them, that it’s very doable here.”

Brett Hundley To Sign With Cardinals

The Cardinals are planning to sign quarterback Brett Hundley, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that it will be a one-year, $2MM pact, with a maximum value of $3MM. Hundley will presumably operate as the backup to second-year signal-caller Josh Rosen, or, depending on how this year’s draft goes, he could be backing up Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray.

As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets, the Seahawks could turn to Paxton Lynch to back up Russell Wilson after Hundley served as Wilson’s clipboard holder in 2018. That would not be much comfort to Seattle fans, as Lynch, who signed with the Seahawks in January, has busted in a big way since the Broncos made him a first-round pick in 2016.

The Packers drafted Hundley in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. He didn’t see a lot of action at first, but he was called upon in 2017 when Aaron Rodgers was lost to injury. In nine starts, Hundley went 3-6 and threw for 1,836 yards with nine touchdowns against 12 interceptions. The Packers traded him to Seattle last August in exchange for a sixth-round pick.

Hundley will likely never fulfill the potential he exhibited at UCLA, but he may able to churn out a career as a serviceable backup. He did not see any action last year, as Wilson continued his record of perfect attendance.

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Seahawks Sign QB Paxton Lynch

The Seahawks have signed quarterback Paxton Lynch, according to the NFL’s transaction wire. The deal was first reported by Ian Furness of KJR Radio (on Twitter). 

Lynch may be a backup option for the Seahawks in 2019 behind starter Russell Wilson. Before this pact, Wilson was the only QB under contract for next season. Brett Hundley, who finished out the year as Wilson’s backup, is set for unrestricted free agency.

Wilson, 31 in November, has had a perfect attendance record since entering the league in 2012. Still, you can’t bank on perfect health in football. For all his warts, Lynch may prove to be a quality QB2 for Seattle.

Lynch tried out for roughly 25% of the league’s teams since being cut by the Broncos in 2018, but was unable to land a contract. The former 26th overall selection in the 2016 draft was beaten out twice for the Broncos’ starting quarterback job by former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian. In two years with Denver, Lynch managed to start only four games, completing 61.7% of his passes for 792 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. Among the 52 quarterbacks who attempted at least 125 passes during those two seasons, Lynch ranked 41st in passer rating and 46h in adjusted net yards per attempt.

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