Looking into LA Rams rookie extension candidates and what they might get

The 2021 draft class was unheralded, but several players from that draft have made an impact for the LA Rams. Now, here's what those extension candidates may get in their next contracts as their rookie deals get set to expire.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams, Aaron Donald, Ernest Jone
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams, Aaron Donald, Ernest Jone / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages
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How to rookie extensions work in the NFL?

Believe it or not, the LA Rams are rather restricted as to what the team can do in terms of securing their rookies. In fact, the very matter of NFL teams first opportunity to offer a contract extension to drafted and undrafted rookies is so important that the NFL and NFL negotiated specifics of how that would take place.

Rookie extensions are spelled out in detail in the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). the rules for drafted rookies vary from those of undrafted rookies. Drafted players cannot renegotiate their contracts or even alter the terms in any way until after the last regular-season game of the third contracted year. That means that four Rams players are now eligible for renegotiated contract terms.

Undrafted rookies can renegotiate or extend their contract one year earlier, which means that they must wait until after their second season to amend the contract. Most importantly, any rookie contract that is renegotiated or extended in any way is no longer considered a rookie contract and is not restricted by the rules governing such contracts.

Why would a team seek to extend or renegotiate a contract early? Well, NFL team front offices love to stagger contracts in such a way that the team is not facing too many contracts expiring simultaneously, or even to have too many contracts expire simultaneously from the same position group. An NFL team that must extend all five starting offensive linemen in the same offseason is at a terrible disadvantage.

But extending a promising rookie can also have the added bonus of reducing the average per year cost of that extension. For example, when WR Puka Nacua is eligible for a contract extension after the last game of the 2025 season is played, the Rams may want to lock him in right then and there. Unless he regresses in the next two years, Nacua will be a red hot free agent if the Rams allow him to test his market value in the 2026 NFL Free Agency market. Extending him after the 2025 season puts more money into his pocket in 2026, and that could reduce his salary demands in future years.