Defensive lineman Dominique Easley didn't want to go anywhere else, and now he officially will not.
Easley signed a one-year deal with the Rams on Monday morning, bringing him under contract for the 2018 season. After suffering a season-ending ACL tear in the beginning of 2017 training camp, Easley's new deal also ensures the defensive lineman can continue his rehab process with the organization.
He said just after signing his new contract on Monday that there were myriad factors for why he wanted to remain in Los Angeles.
"Really everything from the players, to the coaches, to the organization," Easley told therams.com. "We've come from a place where we've been low. And, obviously, I wasn't able to experience the winning side on the field, but I was able to experience the winning side through the players and coaches. I've seen how everything was coming together so it's like we're building something special here."
Easley said despite his season-ending injury, he was still active within the team culture around the building. In many ways, that allowed him to share in the success of the Rams' NFC West title last season.
Check out photos of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib being introduced as Los Angeles Rams
"I would go to meetings," Easley said. "I would be here every day, would go to practice and it would be like I was playing. I just wasn't on the field."
The experience of not being able to participate due to injury wasn't new for Easley, who has played in only 38 games since being drafted in 2014. Plus, he suffered another season-ending knee injury back in college. But that didn't necessarily make this latest process any easier for him, particularly coming off a year where he played in all 16 games.
"Obviously it was hard," Easley said. "It was hard not being on the field, not being with my teammates. But it was also a learning experience as far as life."
That's a significant part of Easley's mindset — treating the injury as more of a lesson than anything else. And that's part of why he feels like some may think of the rehab process as more grueling than it really is.
"Life always puts you in a position where you have to come from the bottom to get right back up to the top. That's every part of life," Easley said. "It's the mindset. You've got to have a strong mind. If you don't have a strong mind, anything in life can beat you up."
Now that Easley is officially back with the Rams, he's looking forward to competing in coordinator Wade Phillips' defensive unit — a coach who Easley says "lets you go and he believes in you." Plus, the Rams now have a pair of elite cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, which raises the bar defensively for the 2018 season.
"We've found building blocks. I would say everyone is in the right seat on the bus," Easley said. "You have a bus full of people — people have certain roles to do in life. If you have everybody in the right seat, everything works in one, everything continuously works and continuously wins."
And especially after sitting out the 2017 season, Easley is ready to get back in his metaphorical seat and get that bus rolling to its ultimate destination.