Paxton Lynch is back in football. It might not be with an NFL team, but the former first-round pick, who spent the 2019 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has the opportunity to put on a uniform again, this time heading up north, suiting up for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL.
Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos 26th overall in 2016, Lynch struggled to earn starting opportunities, and was eventually released after two seasons. In 2018, he failed to make the Seattle Seahawks’ 53-man roster.
A series of unfortunate events led to his arrival in Pittsburgh, starting with Ben Roethlisberger suffering a season-ending elbow injury in week two of the 2019 season. In the week prior to that, the Steelers had just traded away their third-string quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, for a fifth-round pick.
After the injury, Mason Rudolph ascended into the starting lineup, with the rookie training camp wonder Devlin Hodges assuming the backup role. Lynch was initially signed to the practice squad, but would eventually be promoted to the 53-man roster.
He never played a snap for the Steelers, though he did dress twice due to injuries to Rudolph, first after suffering a concussion in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens (backing up Hodges the following week against the Los Angeles Chargers), and then in the season finale after Rudolph suffered a shoulder injury the week before.
There was talk among fans and reporters whether or not Lynch would get the chance to start that game, considering both Rudolph and Hodges had been previously benched for poor performance. Yet, despite having more experience than the others, Mike Tomlin more or less indicated it was never a discussion, that he simply didn’t have enough practice time.
Still, many felt he would be in line for the third-string job in 2020, at least before the pandemic happened. Surely he could beat out Hodges, an undrafted free agent out of Samford who was a rookie minicamp invitee. Lynch was a first-round pick with a big arm, he could at least be the Steelers’ third-stringer.
That never happened, of course. Hodges initially won the job, but then the Steelers re-signed Dobbs after he was cut, and Hodges reverted to the practice squad. He failed to hook up with anybody else during the season; his signing with the Roughriders yesterday was the first news since his release on September 5.
Now 27 years old, he will be competing with Tom Flacco (yes, his brother), Luke Falk, Isaac Harker, Mason Fine, and Cody Fajardo for Saskatchewan’s starting quarterback job. The CFL did not play in 2020, but Harker and Fajardo were their quarterbacks in 2019. Fajardo was the starter, completing 338 of 473 pass attempts for 4,302 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 611 yards.