THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead entered the offseason with two priorities atop their list: Getting a new deal done for quarterback Matthew Stafford, and get a new deal done for defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
They checked the first box on March 19. On Monday, they checked off the second.
Donald is officially back in the mix, ready to help Los Angeles repeat as Super Bowl champions.
"It feels good to be back with the guys on the field," Donald said after Tuesday's minicamp practice. "And I'm here now."
Attending this week's minicamp as McVay anticipated, Donald looked like his usual self and the same player who spends his offseasons keeping up with his speed training and fitness regimen.
Donald stayed in regular contact with McVay and the Rams throughout the process toward a new contract. McVay and the Rams publicly expressed confidence that a deal would get done, while Donald publicly expressed where he stood in terms of being "at peace" with his career if one did not get done.
"It was great, and being a lot more mature this time and understanding the business side of things," Donald said. "I talked to Sean a lot, a whole lot, was on the phone going back and forth, and we understanding where I was at, it's more than just the business side I needed to get handled. There was a lot of things in my life personally that I had to handle. So he understood that, and that's why I love him, you know, because it was so much deeper than football for me and for my decision to be made. Talked to my family about to it, talked to my kids about it, and we're here now."
Because of those conversations, McVay had a pretty good idea of where Donald stood and wasn't concerned when Donald made the aforementioned "at peace" comment on the "I Am Athlete" podcast.
"I told (podcast co-host) Brandon Marshall when I saw him, 'I knew that was on a tape delay,'" McVay said after Tuesday's minicamp practice. "It was a little bit nerve-wracking for some other people, but the comment, the communication between Aaron and us, and me and him personally, felt really good about it. He's been very clear all along, and so wasn't too nervous about that just based on the dialogued that had existed."
With that deal now in place, Donald has his sights set on helping the Rams hoist another Lombardi Trophy.
"I got a commitment with this organization," Donald said. "I'm going to do everything I can to continue to play at a high level, continue to do my part to try to be another world champion, and do that as many years as we can while I'm here."