Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks sign former Denver first-round pick to possibly be Russell Wilson’s next backup

The Seahawks signed former Denver Broncos first-round draft choice Paxton Lynch on Thursday to potentially be Russell Wilson’s new backup in Seattle.
The Seahawks signed former Denver Broncos first-round draft choice Paxton Lynch on Thursday to potentially be Russell Wilson’s new backup in Seattle.

The Seahawks have their latest option as Russell Wilson’s backup, one of the most idling jobs in the NFL.

Seattle on Thursday signed quarterback Paxton Lynch to a futures contract for 2019.

Lynch, 24, was Denver’s first-round draft choice in 2016. The big (6-foot-7) thrower from the University of Memphis started just four games for the Broncos, two in his rookie season and two more in 2017, before they waived him this past September. He was out of football during the 2018 season.

In five career games, he’s passed for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed 61.7 percent of his passes (79-for-128). Lynch twice failed to win the starting job with the Broncos, who deemed him expendable after they signed veteran Case Keenum last offseason.

Lynch might be the biggest draft bust of John Elway’s leadership of the Broncos franchise.

After winning Super Bowl 50 with Peyton Manning, Elway traded up with the Seahawks to draft Lynch at No. 26. That was after Manning retired and Brock Osweiler left as a free agent.

The Seahawks used that 31st pick they got from Denver in 2016 to draft Germain Ifedi, who has started on their offensive line at right guard and tackle for all of his first three NFL seasons. Seattle used that third-round pick it got from Denver in 2016 to draft tight end Nick Vannett, the Seahawks’ No. 2 tight end this past season.

By acquiring Lynch on Thursday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider has all three players from that draft trade with Denver three years ago. That, in GM circles, is great value.

This is not: The Seahawks traded a sixth-round draft choice to Green Bay at the start of last season to acquire Brett Hundley as an experienced starter to backup Wilson. Then Wilson did what he always does: he started played every game for the seventh time in his seven years in the NFL.

Not only that, the franchise quarterback took every snap. He was the only one in the NFL to do that.

The 30-year-old Wilson hasn’t missed a practice in his pro career, let alone a game.

Wilson’s contract expires after the 2019 season. The Seahawks will have talks this offseason on a second extension for their Pro Bowl passer and runner, coach Pete Carroll said this month. That is likely to cost Seattle at least $33 million per year based on Aaron Rodgers’ league-leading contract he signed with the Packers last year.

The rookie contract for the 25-year-old Hundley, a fill-in starter for injured Rodgers on the 2017 Packers, expired with Seattle’s wild-card playoff loss at Dallas Jan. 5. So the Seahawks lost a sixth-round pick in a 2019 draft in which they currently have only four draft choices, for a guy who never played a snap for them—though, of course, Hundley was insurance with starting experience in case Wilson got hurt this past season.

The Seahawks drafted Alex McGough in the seventh round last spring out of Florida International to be a possible backup to Wilson. The team waived him during the season then had him on its practice squad. Seattle made McGough the only one of its 10 practice-squad players it didn’t sign to futures contracts immediately after this past season, making him a free agent. He signed this week with Jacksonville.

The free-agency period for 2019 begins March 13. Teams can now sign players who were not on an NFL active roster at the end of the 2018 season to futures contracts that take effect after the league year begins March 13.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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