Former NFL, Riders quarterback Paxton Lynch finishes with 1.7 passer rating in first USFL game

If the United States Football League presents a better path for former first-round pick Paxton Lynch to get back to the NFL than the CFL, the ex-Roughrider didn’t take advantage in his first game appearance.

Suiting up for the Michigan Panthers on opening weekend of the upstart spring league, Lynch completed two-of-five attempts for just a single yard on Sunday, while also tossing a bad interception. He finished the game with a quarterback rating of just 1.7.

The six-foot-seven, 244-pound passer spent the entire 2021 regular season on Saskatchewan’s active roster or one-game injured list, allowing him to collect his full salary while adjusting to the three-down game. However, the 28-year-old did not dress for a game as Cody Fajardo, Isaac Harker, and Mason Fine were the three quarterbacks used by the Riders on game-day rosters during the regular season.

Lynch’s contract originally ran through the end of the 2022 season, but he was placed on the team’s suspended list ahead of the playoffs due to a vaccination issue and remained there throughout the opening months of the off-season. He was later released to pursue his USFL opportunity.

After being selected No. 26 overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft, Lynch earned more than $8.8 million in the NFL. He suited up in five games during two seasons in Denver, posting a 1-3 win-loss record while completing 61.7 percent of his passes for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Lynch hasn’t played in an NFL game since the 2017 season. He was a member of the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers in recent years but was among final training camp cuts in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The Panthers fell to the Houston Gamblers in their opener by a score of 17-12. Fellow CFL exile Shea Patterson, who was selected first overall by Michigan in the inaugural USFL draft, took the majority of snaps under centre in the loss. He finished 17-of-24 passing for 192 yards and one touchdown.

The six-foot-two, 202-pound passer originally signed with the B.C. Lions this past June but was released when the team signed former NFL quarterback Danny Etling in September. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes shortly thereafter and recorded 13 carries for 23 yards over five games in a depth role. He was released in the offseason.

The native of Toledo, OH played with the Blues of The Spring League after attending training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020. He transferred from the University of Mississippi to Michigan for his final two years of NCAA eligibility (2018-2019.)

Patterson’s 5,661 passing yards as a Wolverine ranks seventh on the program’s all-time list, ahead of both Tom Brady and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. He was also a two-time All-Big Ten selection and won the school’s Offensive Player of the Year award in 2018.