From the day he arrived at training camp, Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree said he was confident that an agreement would be reached on a contract extension.
Ogletree continued to remain positive as defensive lineman Aaron Donald’s contract holdout dragged on throughout camp.
On Thursday, Ogletree agreed to terms on a four-year deal, the Rams announced. Terms were not disclosed, but a person with knowledge of the situation said the extension was worth about $42 million.
Combined with the near $8.4 million he’ll make this season, Ogletree will receive about $50 million over five years.
Ogletree, 26, has a team-best 54 tackles and two sacks. He was voted a team captain for the second consecutive season.
“Besides his athletic ability — his leadership is through the roof,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said a few hours before Ogletree’s deal was announced. “I’m sure he got every vote for captain from everybody on the whole team.”
Ogletree, the 30th pick in the 2013 draft, was in the final year of a five-year contract.
Ogletree played outside linebacker for two-plus seasons before his 2015 season was cut short because of an ankle injury.
The Rams released veteran middle linebacker James Laurinaitis before last season and moved Ogletree to the middle in their 4-3 scheme, clearly identifying him as a young leader for the future. Ogletree is an inside linebacker in Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.
Ogletree’s extension is the latest in a series of deals for core defensive players.
Last season, the Rams signed defensive tackle Michael Brockers to an extension. With Ogletree’s deal in place, the Rams are expected to focus on safety Lamarcus Joyner as Donald’s situation continues to play out.
Donald is in the fourth year of his rookie contract. He sat out offseason workouts and training camp because he wants a new deal that will make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player.
Ogletree and Donald are represented by CAA Sports.
Cooper, the starting kickoff returner, has supplanted Tavon Austin on punts because of Austin’s struggles handling kicks.
Cooper, a second-year receiver, returned punts at South Carolina. He returned five for the Rams last season.
“I’m comfortable back there,” he said. “It’s just another way to get the ball in my hands. I’m excited and ready for it.”
On kickoffs, Cooper can get a running start if he decides to return a ball fielded in the end zone. It is a different challenge returning punts.
“The way the ball comes in is a lot different,” he said. “It’s also a different mentality back there with two guys coming at you full speed before you can really get the ball and go.
“So your main thing is catch the ball first.”
Back in the swing
Receiver Mike Thomas is expected to play for the first time this season on Sunday.
Thomas was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He returned to practice last week but was on the exempt list and did not play against the Seattle Seahawks.
Thomas was added to the roster this week when the Rams waived safety Maurice Alexander.
“It’s been good getting back in the full effect with things,” Thomas said Thursday. “I’m catching up fast.”
Thomas was a special teams standout in 2016 and is expected to get most of his playing time with that unit.
“I’m just looking forward to playing my role and doing what I did last year — making plays,” he said.
Linebacker Mark Barron (knee) and cornerback Troy Hill (shoulder) did not practice. Joyner (hamstring) was limited. … The Rams signed linebacker Garrett Sickels to the practice squad. Sickles played at Penn State. … The Rams will practice Friday morning before departing for Jacksonville in the afternoon. It is the start of an 11-day trip that will include an Oct. 22 game against the Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham Stadium in London.