QB Paxton Lynch joins Steelers practice squad to provide ‘awesome flexibility’
In their search for a third quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted one with NFL experience and one who still retained eligibility on the practice squad.
Paxton Lynch checked both boxes, and he was signed Tuesday after a workout at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Lynch takes the practice-squad spot of Devlin Hodges, a rookie who was promoted from the practice squad Monday to become the backup to second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Lynch was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2016 and has five career NFL appearances, including four starts. He had four touchdowns and four interceptions in that limited work. Lynch was not on an NFL roster in 2018 and spent this past summer in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Lynch “provides awesome flexibility for us where we can infuse him into the culture and teach him and evaluate him without occupying a 53-man roster spot.”
Tomlin was taken aback Tuesday at his weekly news conference when he was asked whether the Steelers had contacted controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains a free agent and has not played since 2016. ESPN reported that Kaepernick’s agent had contacted three teams, including the Steelers, whose quarterbacks are dealing with long-term injuries.
“I went through the process that we went through in terms of our decision-making,” Tomlin said. “We went with Hodges because he’s been a significant component of our offseason and training camp. For short-term fluidity, we thought that was the best, and we acquired Paxton Lynch because he is practice-squad eligible, and we can bring him up to speed and evaluate him without utilizing a roster spot.
“I’m not talking openly about free agents that aren’t on our roster. That conversation could go on for days and be endless. There’s a number of people at the quarterback position and others that are unemployed in today’s NFL. I’m not going to use this forum to do that.”
With Ben Roethlisberger on injured reserve, the Steelers will head into their game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers with two quarterbacks who have a combined 30 minutes of NFL playing time. Hodges was waived at the end of training camp and brought back eight days ago when the Steelers traded third-stringer Joshua Dobbs to Jacksonville.
“He knows the ins and outs of what’s going on,” Tomlin said. “He provides the best short-term option for us.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .