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Knowing the difference between Aaron Donald trade ‘rumors’ and speculation

Are there actual rumors of the Rams putting Donald on the block?

Los Angeles Rams v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

On Wednesday, speculation that the Los Angeles Rams could trade Aaron Donald by the deadline if they get off to a poor start was started by an analyst at FOX Sports. By Thursday, that speculation for a segment about “BOLD predictions” had turned into rumors that the Rams are entertaining the idea of trading Aaron Donald this year.

But there is a big difference between trade rumors and trade speculation. It appears that despite how obvious that difference should be, let’s review why there are not Aaron Donald trade rumors. Yet.

On Wednesday for Colin Cowherd’s radio show, co-host Jason McIntyre, who is is described only as a ‘gambling analyst’ by the network and not an NFL insider, did a segment covering five bold predictions that he could see happening this season. There’s nothing wrong with that, plenty of people create content like that, including myself and others at Turf Show Times.

But McIntyre has no inside information and doesn’t pretend to have knowledge from people who work for the Rams that would indicate that the franchise is preparing to trade Donald under any circumstances. He’s only speculating based on the same information that we all have—information that’s been available since the end of last season basically—that would seem to indicate that L.A. could have a bad defense, if not a bad team. That’s why I’ve been speculating for months, same as McIntyre and several others, that the Rams could look to get a return for any of their three remaining stars.

When I’ve suggested that Cooper Kupp or Matthew Stafford could be traded if the L.A. Rams feel at any point that they are in dire straits, it’s been called “clickbait” and other such names with similar meanings. That’s fine. It’s the same thing I was accused of last September when I wrote that Jalen Ramsey would request a trade after the 2022 season, again only based on speculation. Same as when I wrote that the Rams could trade Robert Woods, months before it happened. Or that they could acquire Baker Mayfield as a backup to Matthew Stafford, months before it happened.

I’ll be the first to admit that speculation can get a writer into trouble, because that’s all that it is: reading the tea leaves. And that means that sometimes I’ve speculated about things that never happened, including an article I wrote about whether the L.A. Rams would consider trading Kupp before the draft when his value may have been at its highest.

I was wrong and that’s fine with me. Everybody who does what I do will be wrong...a lot. Most just are wrong about the same things everyone else is wrong about so they don’t get called out for it. Sometimes you have to be willing to go out on a limb that other people who do the same job aren’t as willing to travel, because fans can get extremely stirred up over the idea of parting with beloved players.

Aaron Donald is of course one of those beloved players—the greatest all-around football player of his entire generation, offense or defense, and the most talented to ever wear a Rams uniform—so you should expect backlash for even broaching the subject of the Rams trading him, whether it’s fair or not. And right now, it is fair.

That’s business.

But it is also not a rumor yet. It’s speculation.

Aaron Donald trade rumors vs trade speculation

Going back to my previous suggestions that fans at least be prepared for potential trades for the Rams top stars, the only actual rumor that I know of has come from Michael Lombardi, who reported in March that the team has actually called other franchises about Matthew Stafford.

“Oh Matt Stafford is fully available. Matt Stafford, they’re trying to trade, they would love to trade him, but they can’t do it because he’s got $57M guaranteed...His contract, he’s got I think $26M of an option bonus on the third day of the league year and he’s got $31M in paragraph five on the third day of the league year. All of that is guaranteed. When I say guaranteed, that’s for skill and injury. It doesn’t matter if he can’t play or not. He’s got $57M coming to him no matter what. What are the Rams going to do? They’re trying to get out from it. I don’t want to hear the BS that, ‘we’re not trying to trade him.’ Yes you are! You’ve called team. I know this. I don’t care what they say. They all lie about it.”

That’s not speculation and Lombardi makes that as clear as day: “They’re trading to trade, they would love to trade him...I don’t want to hear the BS that ‘we’re not trying to trade him.’ Yes you are!”

That’s a rumor, whether you believe it’s real or not. What it is: A rumor. Not speculation.

Lombardi would get in trouble if it was ever revealed that in fact the Rams never called other teams about Stafford but: a) We’ll never know if that’s true or not, b) Nobody ever gets in trouble for spreading false rumors and fake news. NOBODY EVER.

At least when I speculate, I’m telling you straight up: This is speculation. You can agree or disagree, but you can’t accuse me of lying. There’s no lie, it’s just speculation. I didn’t speculate from 2017-2022 that the Rams would trade Cooper Kupp because it didn’t make sense at the time. So the idea that I would simply be ‘clickbaiting’, well, I sure as hell am late on that! Could’ve done that with many other players at many other times.

Was it ‘clickbait’ when I wrote throughout the 2021 offseason that the Rams were the favorites to win the Super Bowl after making “the best move of the offseason” after trading for Stafford?

But I couldn’t be accused of lying because there’s no factual claim being made. Like with other tea-reading articles, it’s just looking at the paper and weighing the odds of a move in either direction. Right now, the Rams might be closer to a 5-12 team than a 12-5 team and they’ve got three players over 30 who could potentially do more good for the franchise in trade than by actually being on the roster.

That’s the speculation I’ve laid out and if I’m wrong about that, that’s fine. If the Rams are good...then good! I’ve been wrong about teams being bad/good in the past and it’ll happen again. It’ll happen this year, Rams or some other team.

However, there are no Aaron Donald trade rumors to speak of in 2023. There are no Cooper Kupp trade rumors either. There is maybe one Matthew Stafford rumor and it was back in March but now they’re we are past June 1, it’s possible that L.A. could absorb a salary cap hit that they couldn’t have absorbed with any trade before then.

Still, it doesn’t make much sense for any trades to happen until football is being played in some form. Most teams are out of money, they don’t know what they need yet, the Rams could wait to see which players get injured and which teams get desperate, and they’re probably also going to find out how good all the players around Stafford, Kupp, and Donald are first.

Just in case you thought they were Aaron Donald trade rumors out there because there are “Aaron Donald trade rumors” tweets out, there aren’t. Nothing to report yet.