The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster who were not with them at the beginning of the season behind starter Mason Rudolph, who entered 2019 as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger before he suffered an elbow issue that required surgery and resulted in him being shut down for the season.
One of those two quarterbacks now behind Rudolph was not even with the team at all. Not in the summer, nor at any other point in his history. And prior to their last game, he wasn’t even on the 53-man roster. He was on the practice squad.
That would be Paxton Lynch, a fourth-year veteran quarterback who was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. While he has essentially amounted to the ‘bust’ label already at this point in his career, it remains to be seen how the Steelers will approach him.
Since the Roethlisberger injury, Pittsburgh made a departure from their norm, growing comfortable with the idea of carrying only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, with a third on the practice squad. That third was initially Devlin Hodges, but due to Roethlisberger’s injury, he was promoted to the 53-man roster and became Rudolph’s backup.
Rudolph missed the Steelers’ last game, so Lynch had to be promoted so he could dress to be Hodges’ backup. Now that their starter is back, however, many, including even myself, have assumed that it’s more likely than not he will be waived with a mind toward moving him back to the practice squad.
It’s not a shoe-in, however. While it’s very possible, and could even happen as early as today, for example, if they successfully claim Tuzar Skipper off waivers and need to open a roster spot, it’s also possible that he stays on the roster all year long.
Of course, the Steelers have a long history of carrying three quarterbacks, for one thing. During his pre-game press conference yesterday, Mike Tomlin also mentioned Lynch by name as a player whom they were able to work with more and get to know during the bye week.
It didn’t sound like the talk of somebody they were planning on parting with, but he could still function in the same capacity while on the practice squad. Given that he was a street free agent for weeks before Pittsburgh signed him initially, there’s a good chance they can make that move.
But there are others moves they can make. They can release Anthony Chickillo or Donte Moncrief, for one thing. They already lost Fred Johnson off waivers, so that’s one roster spot that has been vacated and will not be refilled by another lineman.