Brandin Cooks

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams

49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has had some brutal luck in recent years. After landing a big contract from San Francisco last offseason, he tore an ACL in the preseason. He never fully recovered from the issue, and will miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a separate knee injury. The guaranteed money in his deal is up, which means it might be tough for him to stick. McKinnon is due $6.5MM in 2020, and even though the organization thinks very highly of him as a player and person, “there is no way the 49ers can pay him that money,” writes Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Maiocco hypothesizes that the 49ers “will try to work out a one-year deal in which he remains with the club at a greatly reduced price,” and that “if he declines, he will not be back.” Shockingly considering he signed a four-year, $30MM deal last offseason, it seems like there’s a good chance McKinnon never plays a snap for San Francisco. They still have a very deep backfield with Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr., so it’s obvious why they wouldn’t want to give McKinnon $6.5MM as he enters his age 28 season coming off two lost years.

Here’s more from the NFC West, as we await kickoff in the morning:

  • In the same piece, Maiocco writes about another member of the 49ers who might not be long for the team. C.J. Beathard lost the competition to be the team’s backup quarterback to Nick Mullens, but they’ve kept him on the roster. There was talk that San Francisco would try to trade one of their young backups this offseason, but Maiocco writes that they’ve tried and “there is no interest around the NFL in acquiring C.J. Beathard for the price the 49ers want in return.” Maiocco speculates that the team might eventually pull the plug and release Beathard outright if injuries pile up and they need the roster spot. Beathard, a 2017 third-round pick from Iowa, has started five games each of the past two seasons and has looked competent at times.
  • The Cardinals are still looking for their first win, and they just got dealt a tough injury blow. Promising second-year receiver Christian Kirk will miss their Week 5 game against the Bengals, and it sounds like he could be out even longer. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t rule out Kirk for the team’s Week 6 game against the Cardinals, but he did say the team wouldn’t rush him back, and that “it’s a long season,” per Darren Urban of the team’s official site (Twitter link). It’s too early to tell for sure, but Kingsbury using that type of language suggests they’re going to be pretty cautious. The 47th overall pick of last year’s draft, Kirk is dealing with an ankle injury.
  • The Rams dropped their second straight game on Thursday to fall to 3-2, and now a key player is banged up. Receiver Brandin Cooks was placed in the concussion protocol following the team’s loss to Seattle, head coach Sean McVay said Friday. McVay said Cooks was asymptomatic as of yesterday, but it’s still concerning given Cooks’ history with concussions. Thankfully for the Rams he has a few extra days to get cleared since they played a Thursday night game, but this is still a situation worth monitoring. Los Angeles relies on Cooks to stretch defenses vertically, and him missing anytime is the last thing a suddenly struggling Rams team needs.

NFC West Notes: Cards, 49ers, Rams, Hawks

Speaking at the Phoenix Open golf tournament on Wednesday, Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson apologized for his 2018 trade request and reiterated that he’s in Arizona “to stay,” according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Cardinals were 1-6 when Peterson originally made his request and ultimately finished with a 3-13 record, their worst mark during Peterson’s eight-year run in the desert. Teams like the Saints and Eagles were reportedly interested in acquiring Peterson, but he rescinded his trade demand only two days after making it. Peterson, a three-time first-team All Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler, is signed through the 2020 campaign.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • The 49ers already made one option decision last week, declining their 2019 year for defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, and they may be leaning in a similar direction for another veteran player. San Francisco is not expected to exercise its option on wideout Pierre Garcon, reports Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. Garcon, 32, would earn $6MM in 2019 if the 49ers change their mind, but if the club follows through on declining the option, it will take on $7.2MM in dead money while saving roughly $1MM. After five years of relative durability in Washington, Garcon hasn’t been able to stay healthy in the Bay Area, playing in just 16 total games over the past two seasons.
  • Not that it needed to be said, but Rams head coach Sean McVay “guaranteed” Los Angeles will not trade wide receiver Brandin Cooks, tweets Lindsay Jones of The Athletic. Cooks has already been dealt twice in his five-year career, with both acquiring clubs (the Rams and Patriots) surrendering first-round picks in order to acquire the dynamic pass-catcher. The Rams signed Cooks to a five-year extension last summer, and they’d take on more than $22MM in dead money by trading him this year. In his first season in Los Angeles, Cooks posted 80 receptions for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns.
  • The Seahawks aren’t likely to franchise tag safety Earl Thomas with the intention of trading him, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times indicates in his latest mailbag. Seattle probably wouldn’t be able to generate much trade interest in Thomas at a ~$12MM, fully guaranteed salary, and the Seahawks likely aren’t willing to risk keeping an unhappy veteran on their roster for another season.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Cooks, Gronk

New Patriots wideout Josh Gordon will make his New England debut today, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Gordon was inactive for last week’s loss against the Lions, but the Pats are sorely in need of some playmaking ability at the wide receiver position, and Gordon certainly has the potential to give them exactly that.

Let’s take a quick look at a few more notes out of Foxboro as the Patriots get set to take on the Dolphins in what could surprisingly be a pivotal divisional matchup:

  • Speaking of playmaking wideouts, given the disappointing performance of New England’s receiving corps thus far, plenty are wondering whether the Pats were right to trade Brandin Cooks to the Rams in the offseason. When factoring in what the team netted in its trade to acquire Cooks from the Saints in 2017 and the trade that sent him to LA, Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes the Patriots were right to make the move. The Pats ultimately received a year of Cooks, a 2017 third-round pick, the 2018 No. 23 overall pick, and a 2018 sixth-rounder in exchange for another year of Cooks, a 2017 fourth-round pick, the 2017 No. 32 overall pick, and a 2018 fourth-round pick. That represents good value, especially when considering the Pats would have had to pay Cooks $8.5MM this year and might have received a 2020 compensatory third-rounder if they let him walk in free agency (which they almost certainly would have). Plus, New England could not have predicted the Julian Edeleman suspension, so even though the results might indicate the Cooks trade was a bad one with the benefit of hindsight, Kyed believes the process was right.
  • The Patriots have already put nine players on IR since the start of training camp, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes. Reiss points out that the team put just 11 players on IR all of last season, and just four during the 2016 Super Bowl season. Reiss notes that only Rex Burkhead and Duke Dawson are the only two players who could realistically return from IR in 2018.
  • In light of last week’s Rob Gronkowski trade reports, Reiss points out that there had not been much communication between Gronk and the Pats before the star tight end was informed of the potential trade to Detroit. Reiss wonders whether New England really would have pulled the trigger on the deal, or if it simply used the trade as a way to reignite conversations with Gronkowski
  • Reiss also notes that last week’s AFC Defensive Player of the Week, the Bills’ Matt Milano, was drafted by Buffalo with the fifth-rounder it acquired from the Pats when New England signed then-RFA Mike Gillislee. Needless to say, that transaction looks like a big win for the Bills right now.
  • The Patriots cut Gordon’s former Browns teammate, Corey Coleman, from their practice squad yesterday.

Rams Rumors: Donald, Gurley, Cooks

A specific provision in the CBA means that a holdout for Aaron Donald would be particularly costly if it continues into the preseason. The CBA dictates that players in the midst of their fifth-year option are subject to daily fines of $30K during preseason training camp, which is less than the usual $40K fine. However, each missed preseason game for fifth-year option players results in a fine equivalent to one week of regular season salary, Mike Florio of PFT notes.

For Donald, a holdout lingering into the preseason will cost him $405K per game. If he were to miss the full preseason, that would come out to more than $1.62MM of his $6.892MM salary. That doesn’t ensure Donald will show up for the exhibition games, but it’s certainly something for the defensive standout to think about.

Here’s more from sunny L.A.:

  • The Rams’ new deal for running back Todd Gurley is a game-changer for obvious reasons, but Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap (Twitter link) sees it as a potential turning point for some less obvious factors as well. He wonders aloud if elite running backs like Gurley with today’s lighter workload and better conditioning can last longer than the last set of backs who hurt the market. If that’s the case, then the running back market may finally move on a trajectory similar to other key positions.
  • We have the details on Brandin Cooks‘ new deal with the Rams, courtesy of Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). Cooks will receive a whopping $50.46MM guaranteed and will carry a $27.46MM cap number in 2019 and a $20.36MM figure in ’20.
  • The Cooks deal is a huge investment for a player who has been traded twice in two years and hasn’t played a down for the team he is currently under contract with, Fitzgerald writes. His cashflow is also extremely impressive when compared to the league’s other top wide receivers. He’ll receive the largest Year 1 take home of any wide receiver and, after two years, he’ll earn more than any player except for Antonio Brown. The flow tails off a bit in the fourth and fifth years of the deal, but he can top every other receiver in those seasons via incentives.
  • On Tuesday, the Rams signed defensive end Ryan Davis.

East Notes: Allen, Cooks, Eagles

Bills fans are anxiously looking forward to the inevitable ascension of Josh Allen, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News takes a look at the team’s quarterback competition with training camp fast approaching. A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman know that, if either of them start the season under center — and McCarron is generally seen as the favorite to open the year as the starting signal-caller — they would just be keeping the seat warm for Allen. Carucci notes that Allen’s natural talent was on full display throughout spring practices, and he adds that all three competitors have developed a friendship during their time together. The Buffalo News scribe examines each player’s case to start on Week 1, and he notably does not rule out any possibility at this juncture.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Former Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks just inked a massive extension with the Rams, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says New England had a pretty good idea that Cooks, who was scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2018 season, was going to get that kind of money given the robust state of the wide receiver market. However, the Patriots just did not value him that highly and were approaching this year as though it would be Cooks’ last in Foxborough. So, when presented with the opportunity to get a first-round pick for him this offseason, New England pounced.
  • Earlier today, the Patriots signed No. 31 overall pick Sony Michel.
  • Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com takes a look at 10 Giants who are in danger of being cut because of their salaries, the status of their position groups, or some combination thereof. Dunleavy’s list is headlined by guard John Jerry and defensive end Kerry Wynn.
  • Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has made more trades than any other general manager since 2010, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, who believes that Roseman will make more trades in the coming weeks. Shorr-Parks puts a potential return on each player on the roster, and he notes that Roseman would likely be open to moving Nick Foles and Brandon Graham, though it would take at least a first-round pick to acquire Foles and a third-rounder to land Graham.
  • In a separate piece, Shorr-Parks offers his take on the locks, longshots, and bubble players on the Eagles‘ roster as it currently stands. As Shorr-Parks has indicated previouslyRonald Darby is another trade candidate if De’vante Bausby continues to play well in training camp.

Extra Points: Cardinals, Cooks, Gregory, Manhertz, McCluster

Larry Fitzgerald will be back for a 15th season in Arizona, and the long-time Cardinals wideout is set to hit free agency next offseason. Of course, the future Hall of Famer can’t envision himself playing elsewhere, as he essentially told Jace Frederick of TwinCities.com that he’d hang up his cleats if he wasn’t retained by Arizona.

“If I’m not playing in Arizona, I won’t be playing anywhere,” he said. “I’ve built a good life for myself down there. Playing in the same place for 15 years is a true blessing.”

Fitzgerald is one of only two players (along with Antonio Brown) to compile 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards over the past three seasons. Despite turning 35 years old this fall, Fitzgerald says he isn’t slowing down.

“It doesn’t really matter about the age, it’s about what you put into it and your mind-set,” he said. “Everybody kind of takes numbers and assumes this is when it’s supposed to end. As an athlete, fortunately, you write your own script. If you still produce and you play at a high level, you kind of determine how long you want to play. If I can stay at a high level, I still keep destiny in my own hands.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • We learned earlier today that wideout Brandin Cooks had inked a five-year, $80MM extension with the Rams. NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora tweets that the new deal contains $20.5MM in guaranteed money and a $50.5MM injury guarantee. NFL.com’s Albert Breer clarifies (via Twitter) that the deal will actually total $81MM, with the $16.2MM average annual value trailing only Brown, Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins.
  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty today to extreme DUI, and the Cardinals subsequently fined and suspended the executive. Kent Somers of AZCentral tweets that there won’t be an interim general manager during Keim’s absence, as the team will ultimately divide his responsibilities. Terry McDonough will likely handle the “evaluation side,” while Mike Disner will focus on contracts and the cap. Somer adds that Keim won’t face further discipline from the NFL.
  • Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that Keim’s suspension “doesn’t preclude” the Cardinals from working out a long-term deal with running back David Johnson, echoing that Disner would likely negotiate the contract. The Pro Bowler skipped mandatory minicamp last month as he looks for a raise on his $1.8MM base salary.
  • Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. The 26-year-old underwent offseason surgery after suffering a Jones fracture in his left foot. The team is hopeful that Greg Olsen‘s primary backup will be ready for the start of the regular season. As Person points out, Manhertz’s absence will provide fourth-rounder Ian Thomas with an opportunity to contribute during training camp.
  • Earlier today, the NFL reinstated Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory on a conditional basis. Naturally, after appearing in only two games over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old is excited about the prospect of returning to the NFL. “I’m very excited,” Gregory said (via the Dallas News’ Jon Machota on Twitter). “Thanks to the ones who supported me and stood by me. It’s a lot more to the story than it seems and it took me a lot to get to this point. Now I’m ready to make some plays.”
  • Former NFL running back Dexter McCluster has caught on with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL (via CFL.ca). The 29-year-old played in six games with the Chargers during the 2016 season. During his four years with the Chiefs, McCluster compiled 662 rush yards, 1,500 receiving yards, and more than 2,000 return yards.

Rams Sign Brandin Cooks To Extension

Brandin Cooks is set to be a member of the Rams for years to come. On Tuesday, the Rams signed Cooks to a five-year extension, according to a team announcement. Cooks is now under club control through the 2023 season. 

The five-year extension is worth $80MM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). When including his pre-existing 2018 season, he’s tied to L.A. for six years at a total of $88MM. The new money average of $13.3MM per year positions Cooks as the 11th-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL, just behind Allen Robinson and ahead of notables such as T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, and Doug Baldwin.

Cooks has four years of NFL experience and has been one of the league’s best wide receivers for the last three. While he has had the benefit of playing for two future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Tom Brady, there is no denying his individual talent. Many perceive him to be primarily a deep threat, but new head coach Sean McVay sees him as a well-rounded receiver.

“He’s a guy — if you just look at, really, his career — he is a really fast player, but he can do everything,” McVay said. “He plays big for a smaller-stature guy. But he’s strong. He can win short, he can win intermediate, he can go down the field. So I think you’re really not limited in any way that you can utilize him. And there’s a reason why he’s had over 1,000 yards and [at least] seven touchdowns each of the last three years. And he’s a special player for sure.”

This offseason, the Rams shipped a first- and sixth-round pick to the Patriots for Cooks. It was a considerable haul, but the deal gave L.A. the ability to franchise tag Lamarcus Joyner while allowing wide receiver Sammy Watkins to leave in free agency. Cooks also represents a younger – and arguably better – alternative to Watkins.

After giving up a first-round pick for Cooks, there was little chance that the Rams would allow him to walk in free agency next year. Indeed, the Rams moved quickly to begin talks with Cooks with the understanding that they would have to make him one of the highest-paid players at his position.

With Cooks in the books, the Rams can now focus on their other contractual priorities, including defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Joyner, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and offensive linemen Rodger Saffold, Rob Havenstein, and Jamon Brown are also among those set for free agency after the 2018 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Candidate: Brandin Cooks

Immediately after shipping a first- and sixth-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks earlier this year, the Rams expressed interest in extending Cooks’ contract. And that makes sense, as Los Angeles presumably did not give up that type of draft capital with the intention of getting just one year of service from Cooks, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

But, as a young and accomplished wideout in today’s market, Cooks will not come cheap. After the trade to LA was consummated, our Zach Links suggested that the Oregon State product could land a contract approaching Mike Evans‘ recent mega-deal with the Buccaneers, a five-year, $82.5MM pact with up to $55MM in guarantees. While Cooks will almost certainly not get that type of money in an extension with the Rams, he may not be too far away.

Indeed, just last week we learned that Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs could command a deal worth at least $60MM over a four-year term, and he has not had a single 1,000-yard season yet. Cooks, meanwhile, is just a couple of months older than Diggs, and he has topped the 1,000-yard barrier in each of the past three seasons. In his only season in New England, he had 65 grabs for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns, and he averaged 81 catches for 1,156 yards and eight scores during his final two years with the Saints.

Of course, Cooks has had the benefit of playing for two future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Tom Brady, but there is no denying his ability. And while many perceive him to be primarily a deep threat, his new head coach, Sean McVay, believes Cooks is a well-rounded receiver. Last month, McVay said of Cooks, “he’s a guy — if you just look at, really, his career — he is a really fast player, but he can do everything. He plays big for a smaller-stature guy. But he’s strong. He can win short, he can win intermediate, he can go down the field. So I think you’re really not limited in any way that you can utilize him. And there’s a reason why he’s had over 1,000 yards and [at least] seven touchdowns each of the last three years. And he’s a special player for sure.”

If the Rams and Cooks are able to come to terms in the next couple of months, it would not be surprising to see Cooks bring home something in the neighborhood of Jarvis Landry‘s new contract with the Browns, which pays him over $15MM per year with $34MM in guaranteed money. Landry and Cooks are quite different in terms of style of play, but in terms of age and track record, they’re pretty similar. Because of his big-play ability, Cooks would probably seek a little more than Landry, which could make him a top-five receiver by AAV.

Since it was reported that the Rams were interested in extending Cooks, there has been no further news on that front, presumably because LA still wants to lock up Aaron Donald before addressing Cooks’ contract situation. If and when the Donald matter gets resolved, though, Cooks could be the next domino to fall. He will lead a strong receiving corps on a team that features a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball and that could be a legitimate title contender.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams HC Sean McVay Discusses Offseason, Cooks, Talib

The Rams are going to have plenty of pressure on them heading into next season. Following a 2017 campaign that saw them win 11 games and earn their first playoff appearance in more than a decade, the franchise loaded up this offseason.

While the team let go of players like Sammy Watkins, Trumaine JohnsonAlec Ogletree and Robert Quinn, they seemingly found upgrades in Brandin Cooks, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh . Clearly, there will be a lot of pressure on this talented squad, but it sounds like Sean McVay is ready for the challenge.

The Rams head coach recently sat down with Myles Simmons of TheRams.com to discuss his offseason additions and the team’s expectations in 2018. The whole interview is worth checking out, but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below:

How OTAs have been going, especially when it comes to adding new players into the system:

“I think it’s been really good. There’s been a lot of good competition, guys getting familiar with our systems, continuing to learn each other — how to compete but be smart doing it. And I think we’re just starting to see guys just continue to make improvements one day at a time. Our coaches are doing a great job. So want to wrap up OTAs the right way next week.”

On the acquistion of wideout Brandin Cooks, and how his addition will help quarterback Jared Goff:

“Yeah, I think with Brandin, and then being able to play alongside such a great receiving corps that we have in place, he’s been a nice addition. Feel really good watching the way he’s been able to implement himself into our offense by the way he’s learned, how conscientious he is in meetings. And he’s a guy — if you just look at, really, his career — he is a really fast player, but he can do everything. He plays big for a smaller-stature guy. But he’s strong. He can win short, he can win intermediate, he can go down the field. So I think you’re really not limited in any way that you can utilize him. And there’s a reason why he’s had over 1,000 yards and [at least] seven touchdowns each of the last three years. And he’s a special player for sure.”

On the addition of cornerback Aqib Talib, and how his veteran presence will help the defense:

“Well I think like anybody else, he’s had a lot of success in this league. But I think he leads by being able to connect with the players, and then going out and doing things the right way with the way he practices, the way he is in meetings. I’ve been extremely impressed watching him from afar. I was with him in Tampa his rookie year, and now just getting a chance to reconnect with him — smart player, cerebral. Seen a lot of different things, understands concepts. And then he’s also got the athleticism to match up with it. And he’s very comfortable having played in this system with coach Phillips in Denver. So, it’s been a seamless transition for him so far. And we feel really good about having Aqib with us.”

On how much Talib’s relationship with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips influenced the acquisition:

“Oh, it’s huge. I think that’s one of the things you feel so good about, is that a lot of the players that we’ve acquired from outside the organization have been people that have worked with some members of our coaching staff. And Wade in particular with the knowledge and experience that he has, he’s got a great feel for personnel around this league. And having worked with some great players, you hear guys want to come play for him because of the way he works with those guys, the way he puts them in position to have success. And Aqib is very similar. And, like I said, extremely pleased that we got him and it’s a real credit to Les and his staff for getting that trade done.”

On first-year quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor:

“Yeah I think when you look at Zac, great college quarterback, had some success playing professionally, Big 12 Player of the Year. He’s got a great even-keel demeanor and disposition. He’s been a coordinator, when he called plays for the Dolphins. He was at the University of Cincinnati. But I think he’s just got such a great perspective and a really good way about relating to the players, communicating in a clear, open, and honest fashion. And that demeanor, that disposition — especially dealing with the quarterback position — I think is perfect. Extremely detail-oriented. Been really pleased with what he’s done. And he’s another guy, having had him in place, getting to work with our receivers last year, and now watching the way he’s interacting with Jared, with Sean, and with Brandon — it’s been a really seamless transition. And he’s done a really good job so far.”

On avoiding a “boom-or-bust” mentality:

“I think the NFL is so competitive — don’t really look at it like that. Look at it as, we feel confident with the players that we have, with our coaches. And we’re focused on getting better every single day. And I think in the short amount of time that I’ve been fortunate to work in this league, you realize how competitive all 32 teams are — the other 31 teams other than us. And [they’ve got] great coaches, great players. And you can’t afford to kind of get complacent. You’ve got to always focus on getting better one day at a time, establishing a standard of performance and how our process guides our everyday approach — and that’s the one day at a time. And you can’t really get caught up in things that we can’t control. We kind of just want to be just want to be where our feet our planted, and that’s being present in the day and controlling what we can control.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Other Contract Talks On Hold Until Aaron Donald Signs?

Aaron Donald is staying away from Rams workouts for a second straight offseason. But some big names are now in the picture for new Rams deals, creating a more complex situation.

Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks are each in different situations with the franchise, but each appears on the docket for a big contract. However, Donald’s process will supersede these talks, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Considering how long it took Donald to merely report to the Rams last year, this delay could be interesting.

As for the Donald talks, no significant progress is being made despite the previously expressed optimism a deal will be done. Rapoport reports that the start of training camp looks like a better benchmark to gauge these discussions. So, it doesn’t appear a deal is particularly close.

Donald is surely gunning for a contract that bumps Von Miller‘s six-year, $114.6MM accord as the richest for a defender in NFL history, and Les Snead‘s acknowledged the team will have to agree to that. It’s uncertain, though, how far into franchise-quarterback money Donald’s camp wants this new deal to land.

Gurley has two years remaining on his contract, after the Rams picked up his fifth-year option, and the recently acquired Cooks is entering his option season. No NFL team gave a 2014 first-rounder a deal prior to that first-round class’ fifth-year option seasons transpiring, so a Gurley pact prior to his may be a long shot. A Cooks pact prior to the deep threat playing a down for Los Angeles could be as well. But the Rams have not been shy about acquiring rookie-contract players expecting big deals in the near future, with Marcus Peters also profiling as such, and they now have Ndamukong Suh on a one-year agreement.

But in terms of deadlines, Lamarcus Joyner‘s does come first, with the date for franchise-tagged players looming July 16.

It’s unclear where the safety’s talks reside, but he signed his franchise tender and has been working out with the team during the offseason. Donald continues to stand as Los Angeles’ clear top priority, and the Rams’ $2MM-plus in cap space represents the lowest figure in the league presently. This will not be an easy matrix to navigate for a franchise that clearly believes, judging by the bevy of win-now moves over the past few months, it can win Super Bowl LIII.