There are a couple of critical dates coming up in the Aaron Donald saga this week, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out. If Donald does not report to the Rams by August 7, he will not earn a year of credit towards free agency, which means that he would be eligible for restricted free agency next offseason, but not unrestricted free agency. However, Florio says that is not a major deterrent for Donald’s camp, as the Rams would either use the franchise tag on Donald — which, of course, they could also do if he became an unrestricted free agent — or apply a first-round restricted free agent tender. If Los Angeles went with the latter option, there would be any number of teams willing to extend a massive offer sheet to Donald and to surrender a first-round pick to the Rams if the Rams elected to not match the offer sheet, so Florio suggests LA would use the franchise tag regardless of whether Donald becomes a UFA or RFA.
The more important date, then, could be August 9, when the Rams play their first preseason game. As we have written previously, Donald could be fined a game check for each preseason game he misses, and between those penalties and the penalties for missing training camp, Donald could be looking at over $3.2MM in fines if he does not show up until the eve of the regular season opener. That reality could make him rethink his holdout, but given a recent report that the standoff could easily drag into September, it appears Donald’s reps are confident that the Rams will waive any penalties when the two sides do finally come to terms (or else that Donald’s contract will be so massive that the lost money won’t really matter).
Now let’s round up a few more notes from the league’s west divisions:
- Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says his team’s kicking competition is not over, and that either rookie Eddy Pineiro or recent veteran acquisition Mike Nugent could win the job. But Scott Bair of NBCSports.com says Pineiro remains the heavy favorite, and Bair suggests it would be a major surprise if the rookie did not open the season as the team’s kicker.
- We have not heard anything about a potential suspension for new Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant since June, which is obviously good news for Bryant and the team, but Gruden does not seem impressed with Bryant’s on-field performance thus far. Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets that Bryant needs to step up his game and get more out of his reps, and Gruden said that the former Steeler needs to “master the offense and be more versatile.” Bryant is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2019 — assuming he’s not suspended, of course — and even though he is battling for the team’s No. 3 receiver job, his talent suggests he could excel in Oakland’s offense and earn himself a nice payday next year.
- Broncos safety Jamal Carter, a 2017 UDFA, has been very impressive in this year’s training camp, as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. Carter appeared in all 16 of the team’s games last season, primarily as a special teams contributor, but he could get more defensive snaps in 2018, especially in sub-packages.
- The Chargers‘ starting free safety job remains up for grabs, as Eric Williams of ESPN.com tweets. Jahleel Addae, Desmond King, and Jaylen Watkins have all seen action with the starters at that position.
- We learned earlier today that veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had to cancel his scheduled workout with the Seahawks due to a family matter. There is not yet any word on whether the visit will be rescheduled.
- The 49ers are growing increasingly concerned about guard Joshua Garnett‘s right knee injury.