THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams announced Thursday that they have signed inside linebacker Alec Ogletree to a four-year extension, keeping him with the team through the 2021 season.
The deal is worth $42 million, according to sources, tied with the 49ers' Navarro Bowman for fifth among inside linebackers in total value and third in average annual value. A source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Ogletree will be paid $33 million in the first three years.
"I definitely want to see this franchise turn it around, and definitely want to be a part of that. Just grateful and blessed," Ogletree, who was not made available to speak with the media, told the Rams' website after signing his contract. "So can't thank them enough for believing in me when I got drafted out of Georgia, and to this day still believing in me."
In a statement, Rams general manager Les Snead said, "Alec has evolved into a true leader of our football team. ... We look forward to Alec helping our team emerge as a consistent winner for years to come."
Ogletree, playing on what was the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, was originally drafted 30th overall by the Rams in 2013 and has totaled 443 tackles in 57 career games. Ogletree's 28 splash plays since 2014 -- consisting of a batted pass, pass defended, forced fumble or interception -- are the most among inside linebackers.
The Ogletree deal secures one of three important pending free agents on the Rams' defense, the other two being safety Lamarcus Joyner (who the team has expressed interest in retaining) and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (playing out of his second consecutive franchise tag).
But the big name, of course, is defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who's in only the fourth year of his rookie contract but is expected to eventually become the game's highest-paid defensive player. Prior to the Ogletree deal, the Rams were on track to have more than $50 million in salary cap space in 2018.
Ogletree's $10.5 million average annual value slots between extensions signed by two other linebackers this year: the Bengals' Vontaze Burfict ($10.9 million average annual value) and the Browns' Christian Kirksey ($9.5 million)
Ogletree, a safety in college, has been a captain on the Rams the last couple years and led the Rams' transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips throughout the summer. The 26-year-old has struggled at times under a new scheme, with Pro Football Focus grading him 81st among 87 qualified linebackers.
But the Rams value what he brings to their defense and their locker room.
"Besides his athletic ability, his leadership is through the roof," Phillips said earlier on Thursday. "He's a definite leader. I'm sure he got every vote for captain from everybody on the whole team. He's got the great leadership qualities that not a lot of players have. It's just natural with him. He doesn't go out of his way; it's just the way he is"