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When is it time to be worried that the Los Angeles Rams aren’t going to re-sign DL Aaron Donald?

When’s the right time to be sincerely concerned?

Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald celebrates a stop against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, December 3, 2017.
Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald celebrates a stop against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, December 3, 2017.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When is it an appropriate time for Los Angeles Rams fans to be sincerely concerned about a contract extension for DL Aaron Donald?

Was it in 2016 when his response to whether or not he’d be a Ram when the new stadium opens was, “We gon’ see?”

Was it last May when Donald was absent from organized team activities?

Was it in July when his holdout began that would last throughout training camp and the preseason and ultimately forced Head Coach Sean McVay to keep him sidelined for Week 1 of the regular season?

Was it in August when the Rams were unable to sign him to a deal prior to his fourth NFL season, something the team was able to achieve with OLB Robert Quinn and WR Tavon Austin?

Was it in September when Pro Football Talk reported that the Rams and Donald were “not close” in coming to terms?

Was it in January when Rams General Manager suggested that re-signing Donald wasn’t the top priority this offseason?

Was it in March when the Rams were able to sign DL Ndamukong Suh on a one-year rental?

Was it last month when we learned from the LA Times’ Gary Klein that Donald will not participate in this year’s offseason program?

Will it be when we get to OTAs and Donald is absent?

Will it be when he’s forced to show up to training camp without a new deal to avoid losing an accrued season?

Will it be when the 2018 season begins and Donald is playing in the final year of his contract without an extension?

Will it be when the Rams start signing some of their impending free agents to new deals?

Will it be when that season ends and he still doesn’t have a new deal?

Will it be when the Rams have to decide whether or not to apply a franchise tag on Donald next year and whether or not he’ll sign it?

Will it be when legal tampering begins?

Will it be when free agency starts and Donald remains unsigned?

All of this could be rendered moot if the Rams are able to ink him to a long-term extension. That of course could happen...well today. Or tomorrow. But it could have also happened at any point in the entire timeline above.

What’s changed since that day in November in 2016 when the Rams broke ground on the new stadium? Donald’s quality of performance hasn’t changed (though you could argue if anything it has improved, albeit slightly). The Rams and his agent have obviously known where each party stands.

Donald is going to command north of $20m per year. That means the Rams saved more than $16m last year and will save more than $13m this year and would save millions again next season if he is indeed tagged. But would that be a slow walk to Donald signing elsewhere? Does every day that Donald isn’t inked to a new deal make it more likely that one never materializes?

When should we be worried that Donald won’t ever sign a new deal with the Los Angeles Rams?