Rams GM Les Snead once again said that he would like to get a long-term extension in place for DT Aaron Donald at some point and they’re keeping room in the budget for him.
“Every year the market changes based on last year’s (free-agent) crop signing and is there a new highest-paid player,” Snead said, via the Sporting News. “We’ll have to manage that. Also, every year we have more UFAs and decisions to make.
“But Aaron is always going to be a big part of that puzzle. We’ll always keep room in the budget for Aaron Donald and work around him.”
As for free agent WR Sammy Watkins, Snead says that they’ve spoken to his agent and plan to continue discussions in the coming weeks.
“We’ve chatted with his agent and told him we were coming back in early February and really discuss the intricacies of our plan,” Snead said. “I know this – going from 32nd to first in offense Sammy was a big part of it down the stretch.
“A goal of ours is to keep that (wide receiver) group together because a lot of our weapons are 25 and under.”
Donald, 26, is a former first-round pick of the Rams back in 2014. He was in the final year of his four-year, $10.136 million and set to make a base salary of $1,802,250 for the 2017 season when the Rams picked up his fifth-year team option for the 2018 season.
This will run the Rams around $6.892 million for the 2018 season, but is guaranteed only for injury and won’t prevent them from working on a long-term extension over the next year.
In 2017, Donald appeared in 14 games for the Rams and recorded 41 tackles, 11 sacks, a fumble recovery, five forced fumbles and a pass defense.
Watkins, 24, was taken with the No. 4 overall pick back in 2014 after the Bills traded up to get him. The Bills traded him and a 2018 sixth-round pick to the Rams in return for CB E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round pick during the preseason.
Watkins played out the final year of his four-year, $19.935 million rookie contract and is now in position to be an unrestricted free agent in the coming months. The Bills somewhat surprisingly declined to pick up Watkins’ fifth-year option last year.
In 2017, Watkins appeared in 15 games for the Rams and caught 39 passes for 593 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 40 receiver out of 120 qualifying players.
We have him featured in our Top 100 – 2018 NFL Free Agents list.