The discussion of the Los Angeles Rams and DE Aaron Donald is changing.
Per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:
Per a league source, the Rams and Donald are negotiating but are “not close” on a deal.
While the Rams have been mum about the reasons for Donald’s absence, the reality is that Donald has decided to take a stand against the current rookie compensation system.
For months, we’ve heard nothing but reporting suggesting the opposite.
In May when Donald was a no-show at OTAs, Vinny Bonsignore of the Daily News and OC Register offered this:
As multiple people in the Rams organization confirmed on Monday, the club is eager to do right by their All-Pro defensive tackle and are hopeful things will get sorted out.
As in very, very soon.
“Very, very soon.”
A week later, Bonsignore cryptically offered this:
Hearing there could be an update on Aaron Donald and #Rams contract situation today— Vincent Bonsignore (@DailyNewsVinny) May 30, 2017
There was no update.
Donald participated in minicamp soon after in the offseason program, but in late July when Donald did not report to training camp, NFL Nework’s Ian Rapoport reported there had been little progress on negotiations.
With training camp and the preseason soaking up attention, the Donald holdout sat behind many of the headlines coming from the team persisting nonetheless. And with Week 1 of the regular season fast approaching, we learned yesterday from Rapoport that the Rams negotiation brass of VP/COO Kevin Demoff, General Manager Les Snead and Senior Assistant Tony Pastoors traveled to Atlanta to personally discuss contract negotiations with Donalds’ representation at CAA.
There’s no avoiding this. The Rams are at a crossroads.
This is a franchise that doled out contracts to OLB Robert Quinn and WR Tavon Austin after three seasons. Donald has surpassed them on the field. He’s perhaps surpassed every player in the NFL after three seasons. The level of acquiescence he’s likely asking for is more than perhaps any other free agent for the simple reason that he’s played himself to that level. Add in the fact the Rams are (a) one of the least successful teams in the NFL over the past decade and a half, (b) hardly in a position of negotiating strength historically and (c) struggling to convince a new home market to pay attention by and large and you can understand why Rams brass traveled to Atlanta instead of just picking up the phone.
I don’t know which side of the reporting deserves more credence. I’m not suggesting which side to believe.
I doubt I have to pass on to Rams fans who have paid attention for more than 12 months that this is not a well-run team. Facing a contract negotiation with their best player since Steven Jackson, I doubt I have to pass on to Rams fans that failure on this front will send a message to every player in the NFL and every fan that the Rams just aren’t to be taken seriously.
The Rams will play the Indianapolis Colts a week from tomorrow. Whether or not Aaron Donald is on the field will tell us quite a bit about the Los Angeles Rams.
And it might tell us what we already know, loathe as we might be to admit it.