Broncos keep QB Paxton Lynch on 53-man roster

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos kept quarterback Paxton Lynch on their 53-man roster, despite his struggles this summer.

Lynch is the third quarterback behind starter Case Keenum and backup Chad Kelly.

Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said Saturday evening that part of the thinking was Kelly's inexperience. He was a seventh-round pick in the 2017 draft who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, and that played a part in the decision to retain Lynch.

"Every decision we make, we try to make the best decision for the Broncos, and sitting right now, where we are at quarterback and who knows our system ... I thought at this point in time that's the best decision for us," Elway said. "Paxton continued to improve, but he is the third-string quarterback. Looking at it, looking at the situation, with Chad not having a lot of experience and not having played a regular-season game before, we felt like we had to go with three quarterbacks, and Paxton was our third one."

Lynch, whom the Broncos traded up to select in the first round of the 2016 draft (26th overall), lost back-to-back training camp battles with Trevor Siemian the previous two summers. This summer, Lynch slid to No. 3 on the depth chart after the Broncos' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears and wasn't able to regain the backup spot.

Lynch did have his strongest outing of the preseason in the Broncos' game Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals, completing 14 of 15 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns just two days before the Broncos made the bulk of their cuts.

"In my opinion, he played well the past two weeks," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said Saturday. "I've been impressed with Paxton and how he's handled his demotion. He's been engaged. He's worked ... If you've got a guy you think can be a player in the future, you've got to give him time to develop."

It might well be Lynch's last chance to rebuild some of his standing. As the team's No. 3, he will spend much of his time running the scout-team offense against the Broncos' first-team defense each week, as much of the focus will be on preparing for each week's opponent rather than developing a player for down the road. That will put much of the focus on Lynch's own efforts to better himself in those limited practice opportunities and meetings.

"That's the key thing: We've got to keep coaching him too," Elway said. " ... Obviously Paxton's got to take it on himself to continue to try to improve, and he's going to get a lot of reps with scout, and he's going to go against the first-team defense, so he's got to improve there. That's what he has to do ... Paxton's got to concentrate on getting better."

Elway added that the Broncos considered bringing in a veteran quarterback as Keenum's backup or as a third quarterback behind Kelly, but they were unable to convince any of the available passers the team wanted to sign right now.

"The veteran quarterbacks didn't want to come in right now,'' Elway said. "We talked to several and had discussions there, [but] they all want to wait, the ones we were interested in."