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

Jay Asser 7/08/2018
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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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Cleveland Browns cut ties with another first-round pick by trading Corey Coleman to Buffalo Bills

Jay Asser 7/08/2018
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Corey Coleman spent two seasons in Cleveland before being traded.

The Cleveland Browns’ woes over their first-round picks continued with the trade of wide receiver Corey Coleman to the Buffalo Bills.

Coleman was drafted 15th overall by Cleveland in the 2016 draft after the team shipped the second overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, who used the selection to nab quarterback Carson Wentz.

Since then, the Browns have gone 1-31 and received little production from the quarterback position, which they addressed by taking Baker Mayfield first overall in this year’s draft.

With the way the careers of Coleman and Wentz have transpired so far, Cleveland’s decision in the 2016 draft looks like a disaster in hindsight.

But if anything, Coleman’s early struggles reinforce the thought process behind the Browns opting for a package of picks in exchange for the second overall selection.

None of 11 first-round picks Cleveland made from 2009 to 2016 are still on the team, with all but one (Alex Mack) either cut or traded.

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Their issues with player evaluation and the general crapshoot nature of the draft is exactly why the Browns were smart to trade one shot at the board for multiple swings, even if the results say otherwise.

In return for Coleman, Cleveland received a seventh-round pick in 2020, according to reports. That’s extremely low compensation for a player that was taken in the first round just two years ago and is still on his rookie contract.

However, with the Browns expected to feature several talented receivers this season, Coleman may not have had a significant role to continue his development.

In Buffalo, the 24-year-old should have much more of an opportunity to play.

The Bills were in need of help at wide receiver after posting the second-fewest receptions in the league last year (289), ahead of only Indianapolis (285).

Aside from Kelvin Benjamin, who is situated as the top receiver on the depth chart, Buffalo have plenty of uncertainty at the position.

Following his rookie season in which he caught 33 passes for 413 yards and a touchdown, Coleman posted 23 catches for 305 yards and two scores in nine games last year.

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Johnny Manziel's first CFL start goes off the rails for Montreal Alouettes

Jay Asser 4/08/2018
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Picture: Instagram @dkfoto

Johnny Manziel’s starting debut in the Canadian Football League (CFL) didn’t go nearly as planned. If anything, it highlighted just how far the former Cleveland Browns quarterback is from a potential return to the NFL.

Manziel was making his first professional start since 2015, playing for the Montreal Alouettes against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who traded the 25-year-old on July 22 after he began his comeback to football with them.

It was a disappointing showing for former Heisman Trophy winner as he struggled with four first-half interceptions before being benched in the 50-11 loss.

His final stat line was 11-for-20 for 104 yards and no touchdowns, and four rushing yards on two attempts.

Manziel’s first interception came on his second play, when tried to fit a throw to a receiver in the middle of the field, only for it to be easily picked off by a linebacker.

His second interception wasn’t his fault and should have been a positive highlight after he scrambled out of pressure and flipped the ball to his running back, who couldn’t haul in the slightly overthrown pass as it bounced off his hands and into a defender’s.

Manziel’s third pick was on an overthrow coming off a bootleg, while his fourth saw him throw off his back foot while being pressured.

The performance is concerning for a player who was a bright talent in college and had moments of brilliance in the NFL, but also came after Manziel had only four practices with the Alouettes’ first team.

Montreal still have 11 regular-season games remaining, so Manziel has plenty of time to string together promising efforts that could entice NFL front offices.

After all, the reason he fell out of the NFL had less to do with his talent and more to do with his off-the-field issues. And in that regard, he seems to have come a long way.

One bad start doesn’t necessarily means it’s time to give up on Manziel just yet.

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