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While the Rams lock up their young offensive core, Aaron Donald waits

Hey Rams, don’t forget about Aaron Donald! Wednesday’s Rise ‘n Grind takes a look at Todd Gurley’s new contract, Les Snead’s thoughts on Donald and more.

NFL: NFL Honors-Red Carpet Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams made a smart move on Tuesday by locking up running back Todd Gurley through the 2023 NFL season. That’s six more years of the stud running back and 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year remaining in Los Angeles.

This comes just days after the Rams extended wide receiver Brandin Cooks, also through the 2023 NFL season. Both Cooks and Gurley were signed to massive deals; Cooks’ extension is five years at $81 million while Gurley’s is said to be four years and $60 million with $45 million in guarantees.

But what’s interesting is neither of those players were expected to net huge new contracts this offseason. Cooks was just traded to the Rams this year and Gurley still had two years remaining on his rookie deal. All eyes have been on the 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal and is awaiting what’s sure to be a record-setting contract for defensive linemen.

Donald wanted a new contract last year and held out for most of the offseason while trying to get one. He ended up playing the season without a new deal and is now set to play on the fifth year option of his rookie deal, unless he’s extended before the season begins. He also is still holding out and likely will continue to do so​ until something changes.

But, Rams GM Les Snead does seem optimistic.

”We’re simultaneously working to make Aaron a Ram a long time -- that’s the goal,” Snead said of Donald on Tuesday. ”I know we’ll get questions about him, but Aaron’s a big part of who we are, where we want to go. We’re going to continue working to get something done with Aaron.”

So, what’s it going to take? Will the Rams lock up more of the team’s young offensive core before getting around to Donald, the most important player on defense? They have about $5.2 million of cap space to work with this year but tons of room in 2019 and 2020 to figure out a long-term deal for Donald that works for both the player and team.

”We want to definitely try to pay Aaron what he’s deserved and make him a Ram a long time,” Snead said.

Well, the clock is ticking on a Donald extension and the Rams hold their first training camp practice on Thursday.

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