The question has come up any time General manager Les Snead has spoken with the media this offseason: What's up with Aaron Donald's potential contract extension?
There's certainly good reason for it. Donald was named 2017 AP Defensive Player of the Year despite playing only 14 games after sitting out much of the offseason program then all of training camp while seeking a contract extension. And now Donald is in the last year of his rookie contract, playing on the fifth-year option, as he was a first-round draft pick in 2014.
As he does each time a reporter brings up the subject, Snead once again said on Thursday the organization's ultimate objective is to make Donald a Ram for a long time.
But in this exact case, the question came up in the context of all the moves the Rams have made this offseason — particularly acquiring defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Check out photos from new Rams' WR Brandin Cooks' introductory press conference.
"[N]one of it affects Aaron Donald," Snead said. "He's one of 53 and as I said plenty of times before, we've got that budgeted into the budget. We didn't do all this and forget about him for sure."
But Donald isn't Los Angeles' only high-profile player heading into the last year of his contract. Safety Lamarcus Joyner will be on only a one-year deal once he signs his franchise tender. And Cooks is also on the last year of his rookie contract.
That's why L.A. will look to get those players taken care of before having to make a tough choice about utilizing the tag on one of them in the 2019 offseason.
"In an ideal world right you would want to do that so you would have your franchise [tag] available to keep one of those three players," Snead said. "[But] you should start from the beginning of, hey, you want to lock those guys up, let's try to get something done and maybe use the franchise tag on somebody else — or not use it."
As for Donald specifically, Snead has previously said there is a timeline in place for his extension to be completed. But on Thursday, he didn't necessarily sound as if the finish line is imminent.
"We're going to keep having dialogue with [Donald's representation] and try to get this done," he said.