Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay offered an update Saturday on contract talks between the organization and superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is holding out for a second consecutive offseason.
"There's been—let's put it this way, there's increased dialogue," McVay told reporters. "There's more—we feel positive about the direction that these things are going."
He added: "I think there's a level of urgency that's being displayed from us. I know that they know how much we value him and appreciate Aaron. Hopefully, we'll see some things change on that front sooner than later, but it's still kind of in the same boat."
Donald, 27, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is seeking a long-term extension. He's established himself as arguably the most dominant defensive player in football, registering 41 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last season.
He posted those numbers despite not reporting to the team until Sept. 9.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus ranked him as the top player in the NFL last year, writing that Donald "led all interior defenders with 91 pressures in the regular season. That figure was so dominant that Geno Atkins, who ranked second with 70 pressures, was closer to eighth-highest Fletcher Cox (50) than he was to Donald."
That level of production makes the $6.9 million he'll make in 2018 a steal for the Rams. Seeking a contract extension ahead of the season, however, would prevent the Rams from using the franchise tag next offseason, giving Donald long-term security.
The Rams have continued to publicly indicate that they believe they are close to working out a deal. "We're in the same ZIP code, area code, ballpark," general manager Les Snead said of those contract talks Wednesday, per ESPN.com.
He added: "Nothing has changed since we started this process. The goal is still to come up with a win-win situation for the reigning defensive MVP and the Los Angeles Rams, and that's a long-term contract for Aaron Donald."