In 2017 and beyond, Paxton Lynch will be great to have on the Broncos roster. He’ll provide them with a young quarterback who has the chance to become the face of the franchise; his development will be fun to watch for years to come.

But in 2016, Lynch’s presence in Denver is not a good thing; for this season, it’s actually a troubling proposition. A trip down Memory Lane, looking at the franchise’s history, explains why.

In 1999, the Broncos were coming off of back-to-back world championships; most of the team that had made a serious run at an undefeated season was returning, setting Denver up for taking a shot at an unprecedented three-peat. Of course, there was one big hole to fill on the roster; future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway had retired, riding off into the sunset as the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII.

But the Broncos were still a contender. They boasted the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player, as Terrell Davis was coming off of a 2,000-yard season, a collection of receiving weapons that included Ed McCaffrey, Shannon Sharpe and Rod Smith, a solid offensive line and an opportunistic defense. And even at quarterback, there was reason to feel confident; Bubby Brister had gone a perfect 4-0 the previous season when subbing for Elway.

The title defense got derailed, however, right before the start of the season. After going throughout training camp with Brister as the starter, Mike Shanahan decided to make a change behind center; the head coach opted for unproven and untested Brian Griese, a quarterback with a grand total of three career pass attempts heading into 1999. In essence, Shanahan gave the keys to a Ferrari to a kid on his 16th birthday.

Not surprisingly, things didn’t go well. The Broncos started the season 0-4, Davis saw his career effectively come to an end when he tore up his knee trying to make a tackle after a Griese interception, and Denver finished the campaign at 6-10.

Despite having a great team around him, one that was nearly historically good the previous season, an inexperienced quarterback wasn’t able to keep the train on the tracks. Griese was learning on the job, a painful process that often results in frustrating defeats.

If the Broncos go with Lynch this season, they’ll most likely experience much of the same fate. Yes, the rookie will have the benefit of a great defense, big-time receivers and a championship-caliber coaching staff to relieve some of the burden. But Lynch will enjoy no more advantages than Griese did in 1999; that campaign proved that an All-Star cast can only cover quarterback deficiencies for so long.

That said, Gary Kubiak may be tempted to make the same decision Shanahan did nearly 20 years ago. Ultimately, Brister was shown the bench because he wasn’t up to speed on the playbook, something that the coaching staff – a group that included Kubiak as the team’s offensive coordinator – felt would lead to too many mistakes over the course of a 16-game season. If they were going to endure blunders, Denver’s brass figured it was better to do so with a young player, someone who could grow out of the errors, instead of a veteran.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility that a training camp and preseason of watching Mark Sanchez do what Mark Sanchez does, which is make bad decisions and turn the ball over, couldn’t lead to the same choice this time around. There’s an argument to be made for being able to live with Lynch’s mistakes, but not Sanchez’s.

If that doesn’t happen prior to the season, however, there’s a darn good chance it will happen at some point during the year. Inevitably, Sanchez is going to struggle; he’s going to have one of those games where things go awry. And it’s going to be tempting to go with the youngster, with all that potential simply standing on the sidelines holding a clipboard.

History once again provides an example of this not being a good idea, as the Broncos followed this plan in 2006. The season after advancing all the way to the AFC Championship, Shanahan couldn’t avoid pulling the plug on his veteran quarterback and going with his hot-shot rookie; so despite a 7-4 start to the season, the head coach benched Jake Plummer and turned the reigns over to Jay Cutler. A 2-3 finish caused Denver to miss the playoffs.

If the Broncos start to sputter offensively and Kubiak is looking for a spark, it’s not unreasonable to think he’d turn to his rookie quarterback as a potential answer, especially in November or December. With weeks of practicing and watching under his belt, plenty of people will deem Lynch ready to run the show; Cutler’s rookie season would suggest otherwise.

The Broncos are in a position that almost every other team in the league is aspiring to reach; they’re a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Given that, they need to do everything they can to seize the opportunity because there’s no guarantee that they’ll be back in this situation any time soon.

That would have required adding a quarterback to the roster who has championship mettle; it would have meant turning over the most-important position on the roster to someone who has proven capable of shining in big games. Colin Kaepernick, for all his flaws, fits that bill; the Broncos would be one of the Super Bowl favorites with him behind center.

Instead, Denver is set up for an impending quarterback controversy. With a mistake-prone journeyman as the initial starter and a first-round draft pick as the backup, it’s only a matter of time before the calls to make a change will start cascading through Mile High. It’s not about if; it’s about when.

And as history has proven, it won’t matter if the decision is made prior to the season or during the year; a young quarterback, even with a talented roster around him, isn’t capable of leading a team to great heights in year one. As a result, the Broncos have all but forfeited their chances at repeating as champions.

Down the road, Paxton Lynch may turn out to be a great pick; there’s no reason to believe he won’t be a very good NFL quarterback. But in the short term, his presence on the roster doesn’t help the Broncos defend their title.

In Denver, it’s now about the future instead of the present. Given how hard it is to become a legit contender, that seems like a squandered opportunity.