The Rams extended the contracts of two starters on Monday after winning their season opener on Sunday. The first to be announced was defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks. Westbrooks was shaping up to be a rotational player this season until the Dominique Easley injury, when he was thrust into a starting role. He performed admirably in week one, looking comfortable in Wade Phillip’s defensive system. He even came away with a sack to compliment his two tackles. Next came punter Johnny Hekker, who is arguably the best in the league. Hekker does things that other punters simply do not, turning the ball sideways just to put his desired spin on it. He dropped all five of his punts in the opener inside the 20 yard line.
Economics of the deals
The Rams made Hekker the highest paid punter in league history with his now six year deal. His extension involved adding two years onto his current contract, adding two years onto a deal which was he signed in 2014.
Westbrooks was extended through next season, valued at $1.75 million. He took a pay cut this season, reducing his salary by about $500,000. Westbrooks has flashed potential in his time amongst one of the deepest defensive lines in the NFL. He will get a much more consistent opportunity this year, starting with Easley out for the season with a torn ACL.
The Rams locked up arguably the best punter in the league for years to come on Monday. They will also be keeping Westbrooks around for another season, an interesting defensive line player who could flourish in Wade Phillips’ system.
Both of the extensions that the Rams negotiated included restructuring the front end of the contracts. This could potentially be the Rams trying to open up more money in order to offer Aaron Donald a contract with more money on the front-end. This idea is yet to be confirmed or denied, but makes sense as it was what Donald asked for early in negotiations.