ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Just in case, meet Jarrett Guarantano, a Jersey kid who is on the Broncos’ practice squad essentially as the team’s No. 3 quarterback.
And if the No. 1 quarterback, Russell Wilson, is held out of the game Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals because of the concussion he suffered this past Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Guarantano would get his first game-day uniform as the No. 2 quarterback behind Brett Rypien.
“Having Russell is amazing for sure,’’ Guarantano said at his locker Wednesday. “He’s one of the best in the business. The way he prepares, the way he talks to the teammates. The leader that he is. There’s not much better than Russ so I’m grateful that I got the opportunity to be around him my rookie year.''
Wilson seems to be breezing through the concussions protocols this week but the Broncos' football and medical leaders are still wrestling with the risk vs. reward of playing him this week against Arizona.
“As far as this week, I’m going to try to give the defense the best look I can on scout team,'' Guarantano said. "If Russ can or can’t go I’m going to prepare like I’m the starter. I’m basically the No. 3 and my job is to help Brett if he’s the starter and help Russ if he’s the starter. Whatever I can do to help the team and along the way get myself ready to play.’’
Guarantano was all that coming out Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey. Rated a four-star recruit as one of the three to five best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, he chose Tennessee from nearly 40 scholarship offers. He arrived in Knoxville at the end of the stormy Butch Jones term and performed well as a redshirt sophomore and junior, throwing for a combined 28 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions.
Then came the COVID season of 2020, which messed everybody up, some programs more than others. A graduate transfer season to Washington State in 2021 didn’t go as planned because of a knee injury.
All those experiences, good and bad, helped form Guarantano into what he is today – a hungry, unheralded live-armed prospect with talent that shows up on film, thankful to be in an NFL locker room, working toward his chance, hopeful for an opportunity.
“In high school I was heralded and then in college I had some bumps in the road, some great moments and then not so great,’’ he said. “Went into my rookie year, no offers at the draft. Made it out to rookie minicamp, Cardinals gave me a chance. Made it all the way through and was able to have a good preseason.’’
Indeed, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Guarantano played in all three preseason games for Arizona and threw a touchdown pass in each. He combined to complete 17 of 30 passes for 232 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for an impressive 114.9 passer rating in the preseason.
“Played pretty well, could have played better of course,’’ he said. “You always take something to learn from. Stayed with them for several weeks. I’m thankful for that organization. And then basically been working out and I’m grateful to land here. It’s such a great place historically. And especially grateful to be here now going towards next year.
“I love the staff. Love Russ, Love Brett. It’s a great room. The culture here has been great. There’s been some tough times but everybody’s been coming together and going for the win this week.’’
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