Paxton Lynch was a college star at the University of Memphis. He was a first-round NFL Draft pick of the then-defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. But after a failed NFL career, he’s taken his talents to Canada.
“It’s been difficult,” Lynch said when discussing his transition to the Canadian Football League, to 3downnation.com. “A lot of the pre-snap stuff has been a big adjustment for me. When you break it all down and get down to the core of it, it’s really football — it’s the same, just different terminology and things like that concept-wise.”
Lynch signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and made his training camp debut Monday at Mosaic Stadium.
While the 27-year-old struggled in the NFL — he started four games, completed 79 of 128 passes for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions — he wants another chance.
“Absolutely,” Lynch said in reference to his desire to return to the NFL. “It’s always been my dream. As a kid, you dream of winning the Super Bowl and that fire inside of me to accomplish that is still there and it’s very strong.
“It hasn’t wavered at all, but I don’t want to get that confused with how I feel about being here because I’m very excited to be here. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this team. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this community and how much they love this team. I’m excited to get the opportunity to be here, to play here, and to help contribute to this team.”
Still, Lynch must prove his worth to the Roughriders. The San Antonio native is not a starter, as the team has dual-threat star Cody Fajardo — the West Division Most Outstanding Player in 2019 —, plus Isaac Harker, Mason Fine and Tom Flacco.
Lynch will have to adapt to a new style of game, as players in the CFL have three downs to cover 10 yards, not the NFL’s four, and there are 12 players on the field on both offense and defense.
“I believe in the starting quarterback that Saskatchewan has right now, but it’s going to be a battle,” Roughriders wide receiver Joe Craig Jr. said about his team’s quarterback situation. “If [Lynch] ends up getting the spot, I can see him staying there and leading Saskatchewan to a championship.
“I hate to throw it out like that, but he’s going to feel that he shouldn’t be there and that’s the attitude that will get him to a championship.”
Before Lynch’s NFL career came to an end, he had brief runs with the Seahawks and Steelers. The 6-foot-7 hurler was the third quarterback selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, behind Jared Goff (No. 1 overall, Rams) and Carson Wentz (No. 2 overall, Eagles).
“It didn’t go the way I had wanted it to,” Lynch said of his NFL career. “Obviously, I wanted to have a long, successful career in the NFL. I’m not going to say that my NFL career in my mind and my dreams of playing a long career in the NFL is over. I just think right now, for this season in my life, I’m in the CFL and I’m focused on that and I’m not worried about anything else.”
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