Stetson Bennett says his missed season was due to mental health after returning to Rams

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA - MAY 21: Quarterback Stetson Bennett #13 of the Los Angeles Rams participates in drills during OTAs on May 21, 2024 at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Stetson Bennett is back with the Los Angeles Rams after missing all of last season under mysterious circumstances.

While he declined to go into detail about the reasons for his absence, he told reporters after practice Tuesday that they fall under the umbrella of mental health. The 26-year-old reportedly said he spent last season at home and said he and the team would keep the specifics "in-house."

It was a major surprise last year when the Rams placed Bennett on the reserve/non-football illness list three days after their season opener. The team had selected Bennett with a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and installed him as backup quarterback behind Matthew Stafford.

Rams head coach Sean McVay declined to provide any explanation for Bennett's time away from the team, but did tell a reporter, "I understand you have a job to do, but there are certain things that are a lot bigger and more important."

Last week, however, Rams general manager Les Snead said that Bennett was "exhausted" and needed to recover from "a toll" taken by the stress of his college career. Bennett was coming off two consecutive national championships at Georgia, a wild underdog story after he walked on with the team, transferred to a junior college, transferred back, and took over the starting job from former five-star recruit J.T. Daniels.

Snead's comment, from Rams Wire:

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

Fortunately, Bennett is now back. It might be harder to find a consistent spot on the roster with both Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo aboard, but he could see primary backup duties early in the season due to Garoppolo's pending two-game suspension.