With NFL preseason games beginning Thursday night, quarterback Matt Gutierrez knew he couldn’t afford to wait around and compare offers. The Washington Redskins were the first to call after the Chicago Bears released him, so he quickly agreed to terms and arrived at Redskins Park Wednesday.
“I was kind of laying low for a couple of days, hoping for something to pop up,” he said following Wednesday’s afternoon walk-through.
Gutierrez, 27, is entering his fifth year in the league and the Redskins are his fourth team. He’s hoping this one works out. He started his career with New Englad as an undrafted free agent, spent a year with Kansas City and has had a pair of stints with the Bears. Gutierrez was released toward the end of preseason a year ago but made it less than two weeks into the Bears camp this year before they called him Monday.
“It’s always disappointing, you know,” he said. “You think you’re going to have an opporutnity and it doesn’t work out. I really enjoy playing football. I want to play football. I’m just thankful for this opportunity.”
The task in front of him is a difficult one. Gutierrez has only a few weeks to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and he needs to learn the entire offense from scratch. To stick around, he’d likely have to beat out Kellen Clemens for the team’s No. 3 quarterback job. Given the last of organized offseason workouts, he knows there are others around the locker room who are still trying to figure out Mike Shanahan’s offense.
“Everybody’s in the same boat. It’s a difficult situation — a short time to learn for everybody,” Gutierrez said. “Just got to make the best of the situation and go out there and play.”
Gutierrez knows how tough it is to fight for a starting job. He began his college career at Michigan and was expected to enter the 2004 season as the starting quarterback. But while he was nursing a preseason injury, Chad Henne took ahold of the job and never let go. Gutierrez then transferred to Idaho State where he finished out his college career.
Now in the NFL, he has yet another system to learn. He knows little about the Shanahan offense, but he’ll have his nose in the playbook the next few weeks. He’ll be able to go through his first full practice with the team on Sunday.
“There’s always some similarities [in offenses],” Gutierrez said. “But I know I got a lot to learn. I think I’m in a great place and have the right people to learn from.”