The Los Angeles Rams aren’t conducting business well.
CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Tavon Austin and ILB Mark Barron are all among the highest-paid players at their position at salaries they almost certainly would not command on the open market.
DL Aaron Donald is the 49th highest-paid inside defensive lineman in the NFL in 2017 being paid less than $2m this year at a salary he certainly certainly would outearn on the open market.
The Rams can’t escape the fiscal realities of their mistakes over the last few seasons: they’re paying the wrong guys and losing quality players to boot.
CB Janoris Jenkins landed a deal with the New York Giants that made him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL last year. He proceeded to play like it, garnering a Pro Bowl selection and helping the Giants to the playoffs.
So with the news that Donald is holding out of training camp as a no-show when veterans reported today, consider the message the Rams are sending the league, the message of how they treat their own.
Many people are asking why the Rams should do anything with Donald under such financially profitable terms to the team over the next two years. Those questions didn’t seem to stop them from offering Austin a contract when he was under the same auspices albeit with nowhere near the on-field resume bullets that Donald owns. Playing hardball now, a year after the Rams were all too willing to toss aside the two years left for Austin seems conversely illogical in retrospect.
Ask yourself what players the Rams have re-signed in the last several years under current ownership and executive oversight as they’ve failed to put up a single winning record. Perhaps the only one of any long-term value is OL Rodger Saffold who signed a huge contract extension in 2014. Remember though, that he was a medical check away from signing with the Oakland Raiders that offseason after third-year General Manager Les Snead dubbed him a “priority.”
A year later, Snead’s “Priority A” of re-signing the secondary pushed Jenkins, S Rodney McLeod out through free agency followed by S T.J. McDonald a year later while Johnson was tagged in successive offseasons.
Ask yourself what players are saying to each other about the business side of the Rams. Do you think Janoris Jenkins regrets leaving? Do you think Saffold regrets staying? Do you think agents are telling young top prospects the Rams are a great place to land because they’ll treat you appropriately if you well?
Aaron Donald’s holdout tells you what message is being sent. And as ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez put it, “there’s nothing positive” about that message.