For some time, there’s been a belief that any holdout this year for Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald had to end in training camp in order for Donald to make 2018 an “accrued season” toward unrestricted free agent.
A UFA has to have four accrued seasons; as of now, Donald only has three because of his holdout last year. So in order to make this year an accrued season, he would have to show up 30 days prior to the beginning of the 2018 regular season.
Today though, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that that date might not matter after all:
On #Rams DT Aaron Donald: If he doesn’t report by Aug 7, he doesn’t get an accrued season for free agency and he’d be restricted in 2019. I’m told that date is not considered relevant by those involved — in part because they may just franchise him, anyway. This should be lengthy.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 26, 2018
And from a follow-up report by NFL Media’s Kevin Patra:
Without that deadline to spur action, we could be in for an elongated holdout from the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
Rapoport notes that the Aug. 7 date is irrelevant in part because the Rams could consider franchise tagging him in 2019 anyway.
From the player’s perspective, while being a restricted free agent is never ideal, in Donald’s case he’s one of the few players for which it might not matter. He’d still get a ridonkulous offer and find a team willing to fork over the high draft pick for that right to pay the NFL’s best defensive player. The Ramswould also own the right to match any offer sheet for their best player.
All we know at this point is that the Aug. 7 “deadline” for Donald isn’t considered a deadline by those involved, which means there is no barrier to force the action to get a deal done.
Buckle up, Rams fans.