Stetson Bennett, Les Snead Open Up About QB’s Time Away From Rams: What’s Next for Bennett?

After a stellar college career, Stetson Bennett missed his rookie season with the Rams. Bennett and Les Snead recently discussed his absence.

While Matthew Stafford is still among the top quarterbacks in the NFL, he’s 36 years old, and it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll play in the league. This is exactly why the Los Angeles Rams selected Stetson Bennett in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Yet, Bennett’s tenure with the Rams got off to a confusing start, as the rookie quarterback was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list on September 13, 2023.

While the reason for Bennett’s absence was largely a mystery in Los Angeles, the 26-year-old quarterback and Rams general manager Les Snead recently addressed the reasoning behind the move.

Stetson Bennett Discusses Reason for His Rookie-Year Absence

Prior to making the leap to the NFL, Bennett endured quite a journey in college, one that included two stops at Georgia and a year in junior college at Jones College in 2018. Yet Bennett overcame all of the adversity and won two national championships with the Bulldogs.

He leveraged that success into improved draft stock, despite being a smaller quarterback at just 5’11” and 190 pounds. Bennett was selected by the Rams with the No. 128 overall selection and appeared to be the team’s potential future at the position.

Then, Bennett was mysteriously placed on the reserve/non-football illness list following Week 1 of the 2023 regular season. Bennett has returned to the team and seems eager to move forward, following a difficult personal battle during his first year in the NFL.

Bennett met with the media on Tuesday and while he opted to keep the exact reasoning for his absence in-house, Bennett was asked if it’s “accurate to say that it fell under the umbrella of mental health.”

“Yeah, I’d say that,” Bennett responded, according to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop.

Football was such a huge part of Bennett’s life for so many years, and his year away from the game made him cherish the sport even more. “And so you kind of come out here and you’re hungry every single day,” Bennett said.

Bennett appreciates that Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay allowed him to take last season off.

“Thank goodness that Les and Coach McVay and everybody involved allowed me to do that,” Bennett said.

Les Snead Discusses Bennett’s Rookie-Year Absence

While it’s no secret that Snead loves to trade away draft picks, he opted to hold onto that No. 128 overall selection and take Bennett in the 2023 NFL Draft. If Snead thinks a player is worth spending a potential trade asset on, it’s certainly notable.

Although Bennett essentially missed his entire rookie season in Los Angeles, Snead believes the time away from football was necessary. Bennett endured quite a chaotic career in college and Snead believes the young quarterback needed a break.

“I know this: Last year was very beneficial for him. I think he took advantage of that year away from the game,” Snead said in an exclusive interview with WRBL. “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. 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.”

Snead was asked if he is still glad that he selected Bennett, despite the quarterback missing his rookie season. “Looking back, for sure,” Snead said. “I think our ecosystem was going to be very good for him and we had a plan for him, whichever direction it went.”

MORE: Breaking Down the Los Angeles Rams’ 2024 Schedule

Although Bennett essentially missed all of the regular season during his rookie year, he did show some flashes in preseason action. Snead was asked about Bennett’s performance in 2023 and what to expect moving forward.

“Preseason football – and I’ll probably get in trouble for this – is absolutely boring to watch. But when you get a player like Stetson, he’s fun,” Snead said.

“He’s got a little backyard ball to him where he uses his mobility to make some off-schedule plays, that makes preseason football fun. So, I look forward to seeing how he evolves.”

Bennett will have a chance to showcase his game during the preseason and compete with Jimmy Garoppolo for the Rams’ QB2 role behind Stafford.

NFL Prioritizes Initiatives for Mental Health Awareness Month

May is known as Mental Health Awareness Month, and with it being such an important cause, the NFL has continued its efforts to spread the message.

On the league’s website, they’ve issued a message of support around the matter and spoken about just how important the health and wellness of their players truly is.

“In collaboration with the NFLPA, the NFL is committed to helping build a positive culture around mental health by providing players and the NFL family with comprehensive mental health and wellness resources and equipping them with the tools to succeed, on and off the field, over the course of their lives.”

All month long, the NFL, in collaboration with players around the league, has continued to release videos offering support and hope for those struggling with mental health issues.

“Especially as a man in a professional sport, you think you can do it by yourself… but it’s helpful to have someone we can lean on,” said Philadelphia Eagles running back Saquon Barkley.

Whether you’re an NFL player or a fan in the stands, the league is here to let people know they’re not alone.

Revisiting Bennett’s College Career

Famously, Bennett began his college career as a walk-on QB at the University of Georgia. The career and achievements that ensued after that probably weren’t even expected by him.

Following his freshman season in 2017, during which he did not appear in a game, Bennett decided to transfer to a JUCO school. He went on to play 12 games for Jones College, throwing 16 touchdowns and 1,840 passing yards. That season was enough to earn him a spot back on the Bulldogs’ roster for the 2019 season — this time as a scholarship athlete.

In 2019 and 2020, Bennett’s opportunities were limited with other quarterbacks like Jake Fromm, D’Wan Mathis, and then JT Daniels after transferring in before him. Bennett did end up seeing action in eight games, starting five of them during that stretch, but his time to shine came in 2021 and 2022.

Following an injury to Daniels early in the season, Bennett received his first start against UAB and never looked back. He played in 14 games that season, starting 12 of them. It’s a season that saw Georgia lose in the SEC Championship against Alabama but still reach the playoffs anyway.

Following an Orange Bowl win over Michigan, Bennett and the Dawgs would get their revenge against the Tide in the National Championship Game and gave UGA its first national championship since 1980.

Following Georgia’s first title in over 40 years, Bennett and the Dawgs were back again in 2022. This time they left no doubt, finishing a perfect 15-0 season capped off by a 65-7 national-championship rout over TCU.

The once-former walk-on finished his college football career with a record of 29-3 and hoisted two championship trophies, leaving as one of the most accomplished QBs in Georgia’s history.

Rams’ Quarterback Depth Chart

Fresh off a rookie season where he stepped away from the game of football, Bennett comes back to the Rams staring down a great opportunity to get his career back on track.

When you look at the Rams’ QB room, it’s clearly Stafford’s world. Beyond that, at least early in the season, there’s not much there for Bennett to compete with, and he should enter training camp as the favorite to be QB2.

Veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo is under contract with the Rams and looks to be the clear-cut QB2 when it’s all said and done. However, that will come following the completion of his two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

KEEP READING: Backup QB Rankings: How All 32 QB2s Stack Up Entering 2024

The other quarterback on the roster is Dresser Winn, a second-year player from Tennessee-Martin who signed with the Rams last season as an undrafted free agent.

Like Bennett, Winn has no real NFL experience, but the former Georgia QB comes in with a complete résumé that could put him in the driver’s seat, at least talent-wise, to win a 53-man roster job.

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