admin 14th August 2018

There was one noticeable change to the Broncos’ depth chart when they returned to practice Monday.

Through at least Saturday night’s game against Chicago, Chad Kelly is the backup quarterback and Paxton Lynch is third string.

“Chad’s earned the right to be our ‘2’ at the moment,” coach Vance Joseph said. “The depth chart is fluid, and it rewards guys who are playing well.”

For Kelly, who did not play last year because of injuries suffered in college at Mississippi, the promotion is a product of a solid spring translating into a solid summer.

For Lynch, a former first-round pick, the demotion is yet another sign that his NFL future — if he has one — is not in Denver.

Lynch took every second-team snap during the spring practices that were open to the media and through the first two weeks of training camp. But inconsistent practice play continued during Saturday’s loss to Minnesota (6-of-11 passing for 24 yards and an interception).

Kelly replaced Lynch against the Vikings and sparked the offense, going 14-of-21 for 177 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“It’s really more about what Chad has done, honestly,” Joseph said. “Chad has played well, he’s played with poise, he’s played with confidence and he moved the ball for us Saturday, and it’s been that way since the spring. He had a great spring, he’s had a great camp and now it’s his turn to be the ‘2.’”

The Broncos desperately wanted Lynch to win the backup job to Case Keenum, but he failed to capitalize on the chance.

“(Lynch is) obviously disappointed, but he understands it’s a performance business,” Joseph said. “He has great physical potential, but it has to equal performance eventually. Everything we do is graded and counted.”

If the Broncos cut Lynch, he will count $3.18 million on the salary cap this year and $1.87 million in 2019 per the industry website Over The Cap. If they somehow find a team willing to take on his contract, the Broncos would have manageable hits of $1.72 million this year and next.

Lynch, though, is unlikely to have much value since he has played only five games and attempted 128 passes, too small of a sample size for a team to dig into his tape and decide if he is salvageable.

The depth chart change could also force the Broncos to change gears with their eventual backup quarterback plan. Kelly has no NFL regular-season experience. Adding a veteran should not be ruled out even if they believe Kelly can develop.

“Chad’s a young player, and this is Chad’s first time playing ball in two years, so we have to be patient,” Joseph said. “You obviously want a guy who can go into the game and operate the offense and not beat his football team, but also has the confidence to make some plays and lead our unit. So far, Chad has done those things.”

Kelly called the promotion “nice.”

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