When news broke that Los Angeles had struck a long-term deal with defensive tackle Aaron Donald late last week, there was understandable excitement throughout the organization — including from running back Todd Gurley.
"I think my reaction — I think I called my brother. I was like, 'Oh!' And I texted my dad, 'We got "99" back,'" Gurley recalled after Sunday's practice. "I was just super excited. I started calling a couple a people telling them we got him back."
Gurley and Donald have been teammates since 2015, when the Rams drafted the running back No. 10 overall out of Georgia. In many ways, the two have been on parallel tracks in becoming household names. Donald was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year after his stellar 2014 when he set a franchise record for a first-year player with 9.0 sacks.
The next year, Gurley won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year after finishing No. 3 with 1,106 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Of course, the pair also swept the 2017 AP Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards at NFL Honors this past February.
With Gurley terming Donald Los Angeles' best player on his own Instagram, he was particularly happy not only to see the star defensive tackle back in the building, but also to see him rewarded for his performance.
"I was just super excited to just see him in the building and just have him back," Gurley said. "I knew he was going to come back but just didn't know when. Just to see all that 'pay that man' stuff, and just to see everything work out in his favor — I was super excited for him."
Now that both Gurley and Donald have received lucrative, long-term extensions, their careers are likely even more inextricably linked. Plus, with Los Angeles also locking up wide receiver Brandin Cooks and right tackle Rob Havenstein, the club is clearly building a strong core of players for the foreseeable future.
"It means a lot for us and for us as a team," Gurley said. "A lot of the guys we came in together and it's just like — not saying we were broke, but it's just like I can sit up here and have good conversations with four or five people that got a payday. There's really no better feeling.
"You're always happy to get yours but there's no better feeling seeing your friends, your teammates and other people from other teams," Gurley continued. "It's just been a lot of fun and I'm just happy that I'm able to enjoy this experience with a lot of guys. We're all happy. We're all out here having fun."