Latest On Aaron Donald, Rams

Aaron Donald‘s seen several players follow his 2017 example and hold out in pursuit of an extension, but the Rams defensive tackle remains at an impasse with his team. Specific demands have not come out like they have in many past holdouts, but a number has emerged on the Donald front.

The fifth-year defender wants to reset the market for non-quarterbacks, Lindsay Thiry of notes, adding that the reigning defensive player of the year wants at least $20MM per year. This is understandable and may even be on the low end for what Donald could command.

That $20MM figure would top Von Miller‘s $19.1MM-AAV amount, but given the cap’s rise by $22MM since Miller signed his Broncos extension in 2016, Donald signing for $20MM annually wouldn’t comprise as much of Los Angeles’ cap as Miller’s deal does of Denver’s. Miller’s Broncos deal, at the time, represented just more than 12 percent of the 2016 cap. If Donald were seeking a 2018 equivalent to that agreement, it would cost the Rams more than $22MM per year.

While there are obviously more components to these talks, Donald accepting $20MM per year could actually be considered a team-friendly decision and represent slower growth for the top-tier defender market — much like when quarterback salaries proved slow to move in the years after Aaron Rodgers‘ 2013 extension.

Rams GM Les Snead‘s acknowledged the Rams are going to have to finalize an unprecedented contract for Donald, who’s unquestionably been the best interior defender in the league over the past two seasons. But what’s unknown is how much of a gap will separate Miller’s deal from Donald’s new one.

But given that Donald staged an unsuccessful holdout last year, he may have to be more pragmatic about his latest attempt. Should the 27-year-old superstar fail to report to the Rams by August 7, he will not be classified as a UFA in 2019. Instead, he’ll be a restricted free agent because of his 2017 holdout. While Donald’s talents would draw a monstrous offer sheet elsewhere in an unrealistic scenario where he’s allowed to hit the RFA market, thus forcing the Rams to place the franchise tag on him if this summer’s situation drags longer than it’s expected to, losing UFA status could well induce Donald to show up at Rams camp instead of skipping it entirely like he did last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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