Donald cannot afford to miss anymore time after Saturday’s upcoming game against the Oakland Raiders. Without him in practice after that point of time, he risks not not being ready for the first regular season game against the Indianapolis Colts. By time he is ready thereafter, the Rams could be looking at a losing record before he even takes one step on the football field in 2017.
Where it stands now is anyone’s guess. Rumors are abound as to what the Rams have offered which has been rejected by Aaron’s camp. As the clock keeps ticking, the situation can go from an amicable resolution into critical.
Aaron Donald is THE premiere DT in the league. Rams management recognizes this and want to get a deal done. As a result, each side enters the negotiations wanting to get this contract impasse resolved; but at what price.
There are those that believe that the Rams have the leverage because Donald has two years remaining on his current rookie agreement. The Rams could simply wait out the clock and then franchise tag him. Donald would then be stuck having to accept a currently existing top tier salary rather than being paid as the best in the game at market value.
Football is a team sport. Very few players can command attention to their needs to be paid more money when their under contract; however, Donald is unique. Fans of the game see a special talent in this player. He must be accounted for by opposing teams, like Lawrence Taylor was for the New York Giants. More importantly, he plays a position which is very difficult to have that kind of impact—inside. His abilities makes the other players on the defense better, and he’ll certainly give the Rams lots of blitz options in the 3-4 if he continues to play at the level we’ve seen since coming into the NFL.
Taking a long-term approach, the Rams want to be perceived by the fans as doing everything possible to be a Super Bowl contender, year in and year out. Without securing a long-term deal with Donald the question will be whether the Rams can sustain that perception among those who remember the Eric Dickerson fiasco.
If the Rams want to be perceived as being a Super Bowl contender, management needs to step up and act like it. Sure, a long-term deal will be a big hit under the salary cap, but it makes more sense to pay Donald the big bucks then it does to overpay for WR Tavon Austin or franchise tag a CB like Trumaine Johnson in two successive years.
The Rams need to do the right thing and do it now. Suck it up, and pay the man.
He deserves it.