Timeline set for an Aaron Donald extension with Rams

From ESPN - March 14, 2018

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams had what general manager Les Snead described as "productive talks" with Aaron Donald's CAA-based representatives at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, specifically because they were able to agree on a timeline for a potential extension.

"Obviously, they represent other players, and coming into this weekend, they are juggling a lot of things too," Snead said from Rams headquarters on Wednesday, the first day of the new league year, shortly after introducing Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters as the team's new starting cornerbacks. "We came up with a nice timeline that we are going to work with, and we will get to work and try to hammer this thing out. The theme will always be that we want Aaron to be a Ram a long time."

Donald, who held out so long last summer that he missed the regular-season opener, is heading into the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, set to pay him $6.89 million. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year instead seeks an extension that would make him the game's highest-paid defensive player and potentially put him among the top earners at any position, including quarterbacks.

But the Rams have other business to take care of first. They previously made four significant trades -- adding Talib and Peters, parting with Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn -- but did not add anybody on the first day of free agency. The Rams are still in desperate need of players who can rush the quarterback and stop the run, and Snead said he is "definitely" confident that he can find fits on the free-agent market, even though most of the best available assets are off the board.

The Rams are expected to cut ties with receiver Tavon Austin by end of day on Thursday, either via trade or release. That would give the Rams roughly $30 million in cap space, though a significant portion of that would have to be set aside in anticipation for Donald's extension.

Snead said he is in talks with the agents for center John Sullivan, 32, and outside linebacker Connor Barwin, 31, both of whom the Rams are interested in retaining. Barwin could rotate with Samson Ebukam at one of the outside linebacker spots, but the Rams still have to replace Quinn on the other side and Ogletree inside. They are weighing what's still available in free agency with what could be available in the draft, while cognizant that waiting on the draft can be a risky proposition.

"I think the best way to do it is to not have a need screaming at you in the draft," Snead said, "because unless youre very disciplined, that can cause you to to reach and maybe pick a player [who is not good enough] or pass on a really good player."


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