The Rams have opted to exercise the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Aaron Donald's contract, keeping him with the club through the 2018 season.
As of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, NFL teams have the option to add a fifth year to a first-round draft pick's rookie contract. In a move that's hardly a surprise, Los Angeles elected to use that tool on its star defensive tackle.
Donald has quickly become one of the league's elite defenders since being taken No. 13 overall in the 2014 draft. He was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 after setting a franchise rookie record with 9.0 sacks, also earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. Donald has been a Pro Bowl selection in each of his three seasons, and was named a first-team All-Pro for 2015 and 2016.
Since 2014, Donald's 28.0 sacks lead all defensive tackles. Tampa Bay's Gerald McCoy is second on the list with 24.0.
Last year, Pro Football Focus named Donald its Defensive Player of the Year, writing, "With 'only' eight sacks this season, Aaron Donald's year flew under the radar somewhat, and while he wasn't quite as dominant as he was a season ago, the Los Angeles defensive tackle was still by far the most disruptive and impactful defensive lineman in the league, and the best defender in the game. He ended the season with 82 total QB pressures, five more than any other interior defender and tied for second-most in the entire NFL."
At the NFL Combine in March, general manager Les Snead acknowledged Donald is likely in line for a contract extension, candidly saying the defensive tackle is "probably sitting pretty right now."
"It's definitely coming. The guy deserves a raise, there's no doubt," Snead said. "Whether he gets a raise or not, he's going to show up, do the things he does. But that's coming."