Stetson Bennett

Latest On Rams, Matthew Stafford

Extended weeks after he led the Rams to a Super Bowl LVI victory, Matthew Stafford took a slight discount on his fourth NFL contract. The Rams gave him a four-year, $160MM deal in March 2022. A year later, trade rumors came up after Stafford’s injury-plagued 2022.

Stafford responded with a strong season, drawing his first non-alternate Pro Bowl invite, and led a younger Rams team to a playoff berth. The 16th-year veteran has been connected to wanting guarantees added to his contract, as none are in place beyond 2024. Sean McVay said the Rams have engaged in discussions with their quarterback.

As Stafford angles for more post-2024 security,’s Ian Rapoport notes he is not planning to force the issue by missing training camp time. The 36-year-old passer ended last season healthy, after needing to be managed — due to a nagging elbow injury — during the team’s 2022 training camp. Although Stafford certainly has McVay’s offense down by this point, his missing camp time would hinder the development of other players.

In terms of AAV, Stafford’s $40MM has dropped to a tie for 12th in the NFL. Thus far, the $50MM-per-year club — one that now includes Jared Goff — that formed last year does not appear to be an issue for Stafford. Following the Rams’ narrow wild-card loss to the Lions, McVay said Stafford would “100%” be the team’s 2024 starter. But adding some guarantees for 2025 would make it more difficult for the Rams to move on from their signal-caller.

Stafford’s push here also provides a good indication he plans to play a 17th season next year. The topic of retirement has come up at points for the former No. 1 overall pick, though he has brushed off the notion at multiple points. The fourth-year Ram is signed through 2026.

Stafford missing any time in camp would lead to increased reps for Jimmy Garoppolo and Stetson Bennett. The latter has understandably lost momentum after spending his rookie season on the reserve/NFI list. Bennett declined to elaborate why his rookie year featured the September placement on the NFI list, but the two-time national championship-winning passer did confirm he spent last season at home. The Georgia alum did confirm (via’s Sarah Barshop) mental health played a role in his unexpected absence. Bennett, 26, returned for Los Angeles’ offseason program.

Elsewhere on the Rams’ offense, Hunter Long returned to work late in the team’s offseason program, The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue notes. The fourth-year tight end, acquired in the Jalen Ramsey trade, missed the stretch run due to a December MCL tear that required surgery. Long’s health is a bit more important for the team this year, as Tyler Higbee sustained an ACL tear in the playoff game and stands to be a candidate to start the season on the reserve/PUP list. The Rams also added ex-Seahawks contributor Colby Parkinson, giving them some more experience at tight end.

Sean McVay Addresses Matthew Stafford’s Rams Future; Stetson Bennett Back With Team

Following the first round of the draft, it was learned Matthew Stafford is seeking a revised Rams contract. Specifically, the Super Bowl-winning passer is aiming to receive guarantees beyond the 2024 campaign.

Stafford is currently on the books through 2026, but his base salaries after 2024 are not guaranteed. He is also set to carry sizable cap hits over the remaining term on his deal, and an extension could lower those figures. Rams head coach Sean McVay confirmed the team has been in discussion with the 36-year-old about a new arrangement. His recent stance on the matter suggests a willingness on the part of the team to make a post-2024 commitment.

“We were taking it a year at a time, but as long as he wants to play, we’re fortunate to have him as our quarterback,” McVay said during an appearance on Mad Dog Sports Radio (audio link).

Stafford has faced retirement questions in the past, but he delivered a strong performance in 2023. The former No. 1 pick made posted 3,965 yards and a 24:11 touchdown-to-interception ratio, earning him a Pro Bowl nod. Stafford helped guide the Rams to a surprising playoff appearance, and if healthy he will face considerable expectations for the foreseeable future.

Los Angeles signed Jimmy Garoppolo to serve as an experienced backup, but a renewed investment in Stafford would keep him atop the depth chart past the coming season. Injuries or retirement could change the latter’s situation in a hurry, of course, but a mutual interest between team and player to remain together over a multi-year term could produce an agreement this offseason depending on how negotiations progress.

In other Rams QB news, McVay noted (via ESPN’s Sarah Barshop) that Stetson Bennett returned to the team at the onset of their offseason program. The 2023 fourth-rounder spent his rookie season on the reserve/NFI list, but the team indicated in March he was expected to be back with the team in time for spring workouts. Bennett will aim to lock down the QB3 role this offseason before potentially taking over the backup spot next year. It will be interesting to see if Stafford has a new contract in place by that point.

Rams Planning To Have QB Stetson Bennett At Offseason Workouts

Stetson Bennett disappeared from the Rams’ depth chart in September, going from a player who had a path to becoming Matthew Stafford‘s backup to one out of the mix entirely. Last year’s stay on the Rams’ reserve/NFI list further delayed the NFL career of a player who spent six years in college.

It is not clear what led Bennett off the Rams’ roster in September, but in January, Sean McVay stopped short of guaranteeing the two-time national championship-winning quarterback would be with the team in 2024. GM Les Snead provided an update on Bennett from the league meetings today, indicating (via the Los Angeles Times’ Gary Klein) the Rams expect the reserve QB to be with them for offseason workouts. Bennett has been preparing for Rams workouts in Dallas.

The Rams targeted Bennett as a potential long-term Stafford backup last year, drafting him in the fifth round. The team had done extensive scouting on a player that, despite his status as a multiyear Georgia starter during the most dominant stretch in that program’s history, was not on early-round draft radars. Bennett, who began his time at Georgia as a walk-on before spending time at a junior college, will also turn 27 later this year. That obviously would put him on track to begin his career later than most QBs in NFL history, but the prospect of Bennett being ready to resume his career is certainly encouraging for the Rams.

A route to Bennett being the Rams’ QB2 does not appear to exist right now. The team gave Jimmy Garoppolo a one-year, $4.5MM deal to replace Carson Wentz as Stafford’s backup. (The team also retained reserve Dresser Winn via a futures contract.) Stafford’s injury history made the acquisition of a veteran backup rather important, and Bennett’s NFI placement last year qualifies him an unreliable option. But the Rams hope to see more of the former SEC standout soon.

Elsewhere on the Rams’ roster, the previously mentioned Ernest Jones extension talks do not appear to have brought progress. Snead said the team is not planning to extend the contract-year linebacker in 2024. “We prioritized spending our resources on additions rather than re-signing from within,” Snead said, via’s Sarah Barshop.

GM-speak generally preaches the inverse of this strategy, making it interesting Snead would indicate months in advance the Rams were not planning to extend Jones. The former third-round pick has shown improvement, putting together his best season in 2023. But the Rams have a history — during the McVay years, at least — of letting linebackers and safeties fetch their second contracts elsewhere. Among linebackers, Cory Littleton‘s 2020 free agency exit best represents this strategy.

The team’s previous blueprint featured a host of stars coming in, and their contracts made hitting on Day 2 and Day 3 rookies paramount. Jones has become one of those hits, but as of now, he will be looking to audition for other teams — though, the Rams still retain exclusive negotiating rights until March 2025 — rather than being the focus of 2024 extension talks.

McVay: Matthew Stafford ‘100%’ To Be Rams’ 2024 Starter

While the Rams are eliminated, Matthew Stafford delivered a quality final-game performance to punctuate a comeback season. The 35-year-old quarterback is not planning to retire, and his job will be waiting for him when the Rams reconvene in April.

Sean McVay said Stafford “100 percent, absolutely, unequivocally” will be the Rams’ starter in 2024, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue. Considering the season Stafford put together, his status as the starter for a fourth year in Los Angeles no longer appeared to be in doubt. This certainly was not the case last year.

While McVay said the Rams came to a consensus that Stafford would remain the team’s starter — after an injury-plagued 2022 — the team did attempt to trade the veteran quarterback earlier during the 2023 offseason. A nagging elbow injury and a spinal contusion disrupted Stafford’s 2022 season, leading to the worst title defense in the Super Bowl era. But the veteran passer re-emerged this year, playing in 16 of the Rams’ 18 games (he rested in the team’s regular-season finale) and booking his first Pro Bowl nod with the team.

Stafford’s renewed health played the lead role in the Rams’ return to the playoffs. The team had stripped several Super Bowl pieces off its roster last year and ended up relying on numerous rookie-contract pieces. A few of those made substantial contributions to the cause. None more so than Puka Nacua, who formed an instant connection with Stafford en route to breaking Bill Groman‘s 63-year-old record — albeit in three extra games — for receiving yards by a rookie. Stafford finished with a lower completion percentage (62.6) compared to his previous Rams slates, and his 24 touchdown passes paled in comparison to the 41 he tossed during the team’s Super Bowl-winning campaign. But the 15th-year veteran ranked 5th in QBR, landing in the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2014.

The Rams extended Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp in 2022. Donald’s contract makes 2024 a pivotal year for the team, which will likely adjust Stafford’s deal to avoid a $49.5MM cap charge. Stafford’s $31.9MM 2024 base salary became guaranteed early in 2023; the Rams have their starter tied to a $40MM-per-year deal that runs through 2026. Donald’s landmark contract expires after the ’24 season, and Nacua was in better form than Kupp for most of the ’23 slate. Still, the Super Bowl stars are on their way back to team with a promising rookie class once again.

It is not certain the Rams’ hopeful Stafford backup, Stetson Bennett, will be part of that effort. McVay stopped short of guaranteeing (via ESPN’s Sarah Barshop) Bennett would be back. The Rams placed the two-time national championship-winning QB on the reserve/NFI list in September, and while McVay believed Bennett is “doing better,” the seven-year Rams HC said it was too early to know if the young passer would be ready to be part of the team again. The Rams eyed Bennett as a potential project ahead of the draft.

Additionally, McVay said the Rams are not planning another staff shakeup. The team moved on from several coaches following its five-win 2022 season, but the longtime L.A. leader wants continuity for 2024. The only departures are set to be from teams plucking Rams assistants. That is already happening, with D-line coach Eric Henderson becoming USC’s co-DC. Rams DC Raheem Morris is up for multiple HC jobs, while QBs coach Zac Robinson is a candidate for the Bears and Saints’ OC positions. The Rams have seen frequent turnover during McVay’s successful stay, but the team is planning on keeping as many assistants as it can.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/13/23

Wednesday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed (off Raiders’ practice squad): CB Sam Webb

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Taylor was placed on IR by the Jaguars in July, guaranteeing that he would not see the field during the 2023 campaign. He has also been suspended for the first two games of next season, though, PHNX’s Howard Balzer notes. The 24-year-old has yet to see regular season NFL game action in his career.

Bennett has been dealing with a shoulder injury, but the NFI designation is used for injuries (or, in this case, illnesses) which arise separate from football-related activities. When asked for specifics about the fourth-round rookie’s circumstances, head coach Sean McVay said, via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, “out of respect for him and the situation, I’m going to leave all of those specifics and particulars in-house” (subscription required). The Rams will move forward with Matthew Stafford as their starter under center, and Brett Rypien available as an option to be elevated from the practice squad.

Rams Sign QB Stetson Bennett To Rookie Contract

The Rams have signed their first-year quarterback to his rookie contract. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter), the Rams have signed quarterback Stetson Bennett.

Before putting himself on the NFL radar during the 2021 and 2022 campaigns, Bennett had issues even carving out a role in the NCAA. The Georgia walk-on transferred to Jones College after not taking a snap during his freshman season. After Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State, Georgia was in need of depth at the position, and Bennett returned to the school for the 2019 campaign.

He served as a backup over the next two years, and he entered his fifth-year senior season as the second-stringer to JT Daniels. Bennett ended up getting the call after Daniels went down with an injury and proceeded to complete 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,862 yards, 29 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Despite a shaky performance in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia stuck with Bennett as their starter en route to the 2022 College Football National Championship.

Bennett returned to Georgia for his sixth-year senior season in 2022 and improved his numbers, finishing with 4,128 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He later earned offensive MVP of the 2023 College Football National Championship after accounting for six total touchdowns.

Considering his advanced age and somewhat limited college track record, there were some questions about where Bennett would land in the draft. The Rams ended up scooping him up in the fourth round, allowing the rookie some time to learn the offense behind Matthew Stafford. The Rams are also rostering QBs Brett Rypien and UDFA Dresser Winn.

The Rams have slowly but surely been signing their draft picks to rookie contracts. Third-round linebacker Byron Young and third-round defensive tackle Kobie Turner are the most significant names to remain unsigned.