Los Angeles Rams GM Sheds Light On Stetson Bennett’s 2023 Absence, 2024 Return

Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams used the 128th overall pick on quarterback Stetson Bennett in the 2023 NFL Draft, hoping he could immediately become a viable backup behind Matthew Stafford. Instead, the two-time national champion stepped away from football and is now making a comeback in 2024.

Bennett, now 26 years old, was a second-team All-SEC quarterback in his final season with the Georgia Bulldogs. The Rams fell in love with him during the pre-draft process, viewing him as a potential starting-caliber quarterback who would fit nicely in Sean McVay’s offense if Matthew Stafford went down.

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  • Stetson Bennett NFL stats (preseason): 36-of-62 (58.1 percent completion rate), 347 passing yards, 5.6 yards per attempt, 1 passing touchdown, 3 interceptions, 4 sacks

Following an up-and-down summer, the rookie quarterback struggled in his first preseason action with 7 combined sacks and interceptions. Then, out of nowhere, Bennett left the team and was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list.

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The Rams never provided details on Bennett’s absence, not even after the season ended when asked if the former star quarterback had a future. Out of nowhere, Georgia coach Kirby Smart announced in March that Bennett was training for an NFL return with Snead confirming the former fourth-round pick would be out there for practices during the spring and summer. Now, with Bennett at Rams OTAs, more insight is being provided into his 2023 absence.

Appearing on News 19 in Alabama, Snead offered some information regarding Bennett’s absence from the team last season suggesting Bennett was getting away from football to focus on his mental health.

“I know this: Last year was very beneficial for him. I think he took advantage of that year away from the game. You know what, he’s an exhausted human being based on everything he had done to walk on, to go to JUCO, to come back, to turn down small schools, say ‘I’m going to try to do this Georgia thing.’ To win a job, then to win the thing, and then to determine, ‘I’m going to come back.’ And when you come back, it’s really win it again or you failed. And that does take a toll on a human being, so I was jacked for Stetson to be able to take that moment and breathe a little bit.”

Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead on Stetson Bennett’s year away from football in 2023

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  • Stetson Bennett college stats: 65.1% completion rate, 160.9 QB rating, 8,429 passing yards, 9.1 yards per attempt, 66 passing touchdowns, 21 interceptions

Snead certainly knows the toll making a championship run can have on an organization. As he told News 19, Rams’ players, coaches, and other employees experienced how draining pursuing a championship can be during their Super Bowl run.

“We had gone through it the year before where we had won a Super Bowl and it really started when we lost our first one but we were an exhausted building so there was an element of understanding the toll it takes to put a team, to do your part.”

Les Snead on the toll a championship run can have on players, coaches (H/T CBS Sports)

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Bennet does face a bit of an uphill climb in his return to football. Already 26 years old, he heads into the 2024 NFL season having not taken a single regular-season snap and he missed valuable time last year that could’ve been spent learning from the Rams coaching staff. Locked into being third on the Rams depth chart behind Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo, a clearer mind should help Bennett focus on football this year.