John Elway Fires Back at Paxton Lynch Over Criticism

Broncos GM John Elway

Getty John Elway

The Duke won’t take it lying down.

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway responded with authority to mega-bust quarterback Paxton Lynch — who shaded the Broncos’ culture in a recent press conference — prior to Thursday night’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

“I don’t know how Seattle runs things,” Elway said, per The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala. “I’ve never been in their camp, just played against them. But I feel comfortable with where we are as far as being friendly. I will say this: If you don’t have success, nothing is very friendly, and when he was in Denver he didn’t have a lot of success there. So therefore, I can understand in his mind why it was not a very pleasant stay in Denver. And it’s too bad it happened. I’m glad he’s getting another shot up here, and it’d be nice to see him have some success.”

Elway traded up to draft Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, hoping he could succeed Peyton Manning at the sport’s most important position.

The ex-Memphis passer flamed out in spectacular fashion, however, thrice losing jobs to seventh-round competition (Trevor Siemian, Chad Kelly) and making just four nondescript starts. He accumulated such vitriol from the fan base that Elway admitted negative press contributed to Lynch’s release last September.

Elway Ate Crow on Lynch

“That was a miss,” he told 9News’ Mike Klis at the Scouting Combine in February. “There was a miss there and I think without making excuses there was some circumstances that happened where when you have a young quarterback – you’ve got to be in the same system. You’ve got to be able to have him develop within a system. I’m not sure we were fair to Paxton. He was in three systems in three years.

“We missed on that one but it’s difficult. We’re going to continue to work hard at it to try and find that guy and we’ll evaluate him. There again, it comes down to where you draft him and what’s available, too, so there’s a lot of things that go into it and we’re always looking for that … that Patrick Mahomes now.”

Unceremoniously dumped by Denver at final cuts, Lynch spent the 2018 campaign out of football, “sitting on the couch watching games,” his once-bright future turning bleak.

His professional free-fall ended in January when Seattle signed him to a reserve/futures contract. He was instantly thrust into a competition to back up Russell Wilson, and just as quickly realized the Emerald City is more football-friendly than the Mile High City.

For reasons beyond football.

“It feels closer, it feels like a family,” Lynch said Aug. 2. “I bring my fiance out here, I bring my dad out here, and they even say it, too. They feel so much more welcome around everybody; they treat them so good. They treat the players good. It feels like you’re part of a family. It feels like everybody’s close.”

 Lynch’s Career Numbers & Future in Seattle

The Broncos started Lynch for two games in 2016 and two games in 2017. In five appearances across four seasons, he completed 79 of 128 passes for 792 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Denver lost all but one game with Lynch under center.

As mentioned, 25-year-old Lynch is battling ex-Jets starter Geno Smith for the QB2 gig behind Wilson.

He’s expected to play against the Broncos on Thursday, spelling Smith, who went 3-of-9 for 58 scoreless yards in the first half.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL.