Training camp deadline meaningless for Aaron Donald's holdout and Los Angeles Rams

Jay Asser 21:41 07/08/2018
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Aaron Donald is in it for the long haul with his holdout.

The star defensive tackle continues to be absent from the Los Angeles Rams’ training camp in an attempt to pry a lucrative long-term deal that would reportedly make him the highest-paid defensive player in the league.

Tuesday was a deadline of sorts for Donald to report in order for him to accrue a season towards free agency. Because he remained away from the team, he will now be a restricted free agent next offseason.

While that distinction would make the deadline seem important, the impact, at least in this case, is inconsequential.

If Donald were tendered by the Rams at the highest restricted free agent level, that would require a team to hand over a first-round pick to sign him. There would be no shortage of teams willing to pay that price for the Defensive Player of the Year, all while handing him a rich contract.

Los Angeles would rather not lose one of the pillars of their team, so if they didn’t want to match the deal – or couldn’t for some reason, due to the structure – they could simply slap Donald with the franchise tag.

Essentially, that would land Donald and the Rams right back in the same place they are now, with the sides unable to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

Which is why both sides are willing to be patient and wait for the other to give one. It could be some time, possibly even into the regular season, before that happens though.

“I don’t think anything is going to change with that in the near future,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday. “I’ve had a little bit of dialogue with Aaron and we’re hopeful that we’ll get something done, but I don’t think there’s any realistic deal to August 7th being a date that changes really anything, but you never know.”

Donald is set to earn $6.9 million in the final season of his rookie deal, but he would lose out on game checks if his holdout continues into the regular season.

He’s reportedly seeking an average salary over $20 million, which would clear the benchmark set for defensive players by Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who makes $19m per year.

The only players in the NFL who make more than $20m annually are quarterbacks, with the New England PatriotsTom Brady and Carolina PanthersCam Newton two of the names in that vicinity.

Donald also held out last year and didn’t report until September 9, which forced him to sit out the first week of the regular season. The absence didn’t appear to affect him, however, as he recorded 11.0 sacks and five forced fumbles to earn Defensive Player of the Year.

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