Defensive tackle Aaron Donald's possible — probable — contract extension was a storyline through the 2017 offseason, and figures to be one a year later.
But this time, according to general manger Les Snead, there's a timeline in place for the deal to potentially get done.
"I can say this, we had productive talks with his representation at the Combine," Snead said on Wednesday.
The 2017 AP Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has recorded 39.0 sacks in his 62 games since turning pro back in 2014. He's gone to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons, and has been named a first-team All-Pro in every year since 2015.
With Donald headed into the final year on his rookie contract, there's a bit more of an added urgency to complete an extension this offseason than last. And that's part of why Snead said the talks between the organization and Donald's representation were more productive than at this point in 2017.
Check out the best photos from Aaron Donald's 2017 season.
"[W]e all sat down, said, 'OK, here's the timeline.' And, obviously, they represent other players and were coming into this same weekend and they're juggling a lot of things, too," Snead said. "But we came up with a nice timeline that we're going to work with. And we'll go to work and try to hammer that thing out. Because the theme will always be, 'Hey, we want Aaron to be a Ram for a long time.'"
While Donald chose to remain absent for much of the offseason program and all of training camp last year, neither Snead nor head coach Sean McVay appeared too concerned about that process happening again in 2018.
"Until the issue is fully resolved, you never know exactly how it's going to play out. What I do feel better about though, is the personal relationship that Aaron and I have now established having been together over a year," McVay said. "I've had very good, comfortable conversations with Aaron where I think we all know that's going to be important for him to be a Ram for a long time. And that's something that the conversations, the dialogue is ongoing."
Even with Donald still wrecking offenses from the interior, Los Angeles' defense will have a new look in 2018. Especially with the trade of Robert Quinn to the Dolphins, the Rams currently have a bit of a hole at edge rusher. But Snead said that's something defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the rest of the staff can scheme around.
"I think Wade, with Aaron Donald doing the things he does inside, he has probably … come up with some different rush plans to be able to take advantage of [creating situations where you have] Aaron getting pressure there [on the inside], and how you try to dictate the quarterback to basically get suffocated in [the pocket]," Snead said. "I give Wade and those guys credit for coming up and designing some rush plans to take advantage of it. Because, like Wade says, not everybody has an Aaron Donald. And you've got to take advantage of that."
And the Rams' plan is to do that not just in 2018, but for years into the future.