Rams Rumors

Rams Notes: Peters, Suh, Donald

The Chiefs gave up on Marcus Peters largely because of his conduct in the locker room. Peters was the source of many headaches in KC, but head coach Sean McVay says the Rams did their homework on the cornerback before trading for him this offseason.

The Rams added other bold personalities on defense, including cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but McVay isn’t concerned about how everyone will gel. McVay feels that 71-year-old defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has “more swag” than all of them combined and has the ability to keep them in line.

  • There’s increasing chatter about the Rams signing Aaron Donald to a new deal, but McVay did his best to pump the breaks on such talk. “I’ve seen a lot of reports out there, but that’s news to us,” McVay told reporters on Monday (via PFT). “So, no news on that front for us. Same thing as just the dialogue, but as far as anything that’s changed, it hasn’t changed.”

Rams, Donald Making Progress

Another day, another report of progress between the Rams and Aaron Donald. The latest positive word comes from Mike Florio of PFT, who hears from a league source that chatter of a deal happening soon is increasing.

  • Despite common speculation, the Raiders do not appear to be waiting on the Rams to sign Donald before they lock up Khalil Mack, Florio opines. That theory would make some sense if the Raiders and Mack were actively negotiating, but they haven’t talked since February, so it seems unlikely that they would wait on Donald before starting from square one late in the offseason. The notion of waiting on Donald seems especially unlikely, Florio adds, when considering that Donald waited until the last minute before reporting to the team last season.

Sean McVay Optimistic About Aaron Donald Deal

The Aaron Donald saga may finally be nearing a conclusion. Rams GM Les Snead indicated earlier this week that team and player were progressing towards a new deal, and head coach Sean McVay echoed those sentiments last night. Per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic (Twitter link), McVay said, “there’s increased dialogue. There’s more…we feel positive about the direction that these things are going. I think there’s a level of urgency that’s being displayed from us.” That probably sounds like music to the ears of Rams fans, who have legitimate championship dreams this season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/12/18

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

  • Waived: OL Leon Johnson

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Orleans Saints

  • Waived:G Trevor Darling

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Extra Points: Rookie Scale, McCoy, Bills, Beckham, Giants, Donald, Rams

Roquan Smith still isn’t signed. The eighth overall pick in this year’s draft is the last remaining unsigned pick, and there’s no end in sight to the impasse between the linebacker and the Bears. Although issues like total guaranteed money and signing bonuses are predetermined in rookie contracts, things like offsets and when guarantees will void can still be haggled over.

To help better understand the process, Andrew Brandt of SI.com took a look at the rookie contract process, and spoke with a handful of agents. Brandt, a former Packers executive, writes that it’s a “system tilted heavily toward management” and that the players have little leverage now due to the 2011 CBA. Brandt writes that teams have become “emboldened” by their newfound power in negotiating rookie deals, and that “teams like the Bears are looking to invalidate future guarantees based on discipline for on-field conduct.”

 The Bears want to be able to void guaranteed money from Smith’s contract if he were suspended for on-field conduct like an illegal hit, and Smith is fighting back. It will be fascinating to see how the situation plays out. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The ex-girlfriend of LeSean McCoy issued a new statement yesterday, saying that she is still waiting for “justice to be served.” McCoy has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has not yet been punished by either the Bills or the NFL.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play in the Giants’ preseason opener, but his absence had nothing to do with his contract. Although the two sides are still negotiating a contract extension which should make OBJ the highest paid receiver in the game, coach Pat Shurmur said he wasn’t going to play his star in the first game anyway, according to Tom Rock of Newsday.
  • Aaron Donald missed the August seventh deadline to report and will become a restricted free agent after the season, but the deadline was mostly irrelevant writes former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports. Since the Rams will certainly franchise tag Donald if the two sides can’t agree on an extension, it doesn’t really matter whether he’s a restricted or unrestricted free agent after this year, and there was no reason for Donald to report.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/11/18

Here are Saturday’s minor moves.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Signed: CB Ryan Neal
  • Waived: T Kendall Calhoun

Denver Broncos

  • Claimed off waivers from Bengals: T Austin Fleer

Los Angeles Rams

  • Signed: DL Lord Hyeamang

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Released from IR: TE Adam Zaruba

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: DB Trey Caldwell, DB Kenneth Durden
  • Waived: CB Jarell Carter, CB Joseph Este

Washington Redskins

Rams, Aaron Donald Progressing On Deal?

Tuesday’s deadline for Aaron Donald to be classified as a 2019 UFA — in the event he is not extended before this season — came and went. The reigning defensive player of the year remains away from the Rams, but GM Les Snead doesn’t believe the sides are too far apart.

We’re in the same ZIP Code, area code, ballpark,” Snead said, via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. “I think all of us weren’t anticipating Aaron showing up on the 7th. As we worked through this, we always figured this wasn’t the date, per se.”

Snead acknowledged no specific deadline exists here, other than one that would sufficiently get Donald ready for the season. Although, he was the NFL’s best defensive player last season and didn’t report until mid-September.

The Rams are not worried about Donald missing camp time, with The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore reporting (subscription required) the team is fine with its top player working out in his native Pittsburgh to stay away from a potential injury that would come with team drills in camp. But Donald may want significantly more money than what currently represents the top defender contract.

Von Miller raised the bar two summers ago by agreeing to a six-year, $114.6MM deal, with $70MM guaranteed. The belief around the league, per Bonsignore, is that Donald seeks “elite quarterback money” — potentially as high as $25MM per year and perhaps as much as $90MM in guarantees. He adds the Rams are willing to make Donald the league’s highest-paid defensive player, but the holdup seems to be determining if the all-world interior defender is worth good quarterback money or that of a top-tier signal-caller.

A $25MM-per-year contract would significantly top Miller’s deal in terms of cap percentage as well, since the Broncos linebacker’s $19.1MM-AAV accord represented just more than 12 percent of 2016’s $155.27MM cap. A $25MM pact would comprise more than 16 percent of this $177MM cap, but with the cap continuing to climb by approximately $10MM annually, the 26-year-old superstar asking for this perhaps isn’t entirely out of step.

Snead recently authorized a landscape-changing extension for Todd Gurley, and that deal changed the running back market more than a $25MM-AAV deal would for the defender spectrum. So, the Rams clearly aren’t against outside-the-box thinking. Their five-year, $80MM Brandin Cooks re-up before he’s played a down with the team illustrates this as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Aaron Donald, Rams

Earlier today, our own Zach Links explained how Rams defensive end Aaron Donald would become a restricted free agent next offseason if he failed to attend training camp by tomorrow. Well, it sounds like that will end up being the case, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Pro Bowler “has no plans to rejoin the team” as he pursues a contract extension. Schefter notes that Donald won’t be at camp on Tuesday, “nor anytime soon.”

Earlier today, Rams coach Sean McVay seemed to echo that sentiment, telling Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times that he didn’t expect the two sides to agree to a contract extension.

“I don’t think anything’s going to change with that in the near future. I’ve had a little bit of dialogue with Aaron and we’re hopeful that we’ll get something done,” McVay said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “I don’t think there’s any realistic deal to kind of that August 7 being a date that changes really anything. But you never know. And things remain the same. I’m looking forward to trying to connect with him later today and we’ll see where we’re at.”

As Zach explained earlier today, Donald’s presumable restricted free agent status shouldn’t be that big of a deal to the player. The Rams will likely franchise the 27-year-old since they’d risk another team signing him to a first-round tender, thus earning the defender a nice payday. However, Donald will start to lose money if he misses Thursday’s preseason opener, as the Rams are allowed to fine him a regular season game check for every exhibition game he misses. Donald could sacrifice up to $3.2MM if he fails to report prior to the regular season.

Previous reports hinted that the defensive lineman is looking to reset the market and become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. This means the Rams would have to hand out a contract that beats Von Miller‘s league-leading average annual salary of $19.1MM. At the very least, we know Donald is surely looking for a raise on the $6.89MM he’s slated to make next season.

The 27-year-old has certainly earned the right to be the highest-paid defender in the league, as he’s garnered four straight Pro Bowl nods and three straight first-team All-Pro honors. While he ultimately missed a pair of games last season, the defensive lineman was still plenty productive. Donald finished the campaign with 41 tackles, 11 sacks, and a career-high five forced fumbles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/6/18

Today’s minor moves:

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Seattle Seahawks 

Tuesday Marks Important Date For Donald

If Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald does not report to camp by Tuesday, he will loose an accrued season. That would make Donald a restricted free agent after the 2018 season, as opposed to an unrestricted free agent. 

That’s a big deal, or at least, it would be a big deal for most players. In the case of Donald, he doesn’t see restricted free agency as a major issue since the team will likely franchise tag him anyway. As an RFA without a franchise tag, teams would be likely to consider a first-round tender for Donald, and that’s not something the Rams want to chance.

Ultimately, Donald would still prefer to be on course for unrestricted free agency, but it’s a sacrifice that he’s willing to make in order to get what he wants. The truly hard decisions begin on Thursday, the date of the Rams’ first preseason games. Donald can be fined a regular season game check for every exhibition game he misses, and the fines could total more than $3.2MM if he does not show up between now and the start of the season.

Donald’s camp has been indicating that he will not report to the Rams until he gets a new contract, so this could potentially turn into a messy situation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.