Today, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that a league source informed him that the holdout of All-Pro Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald may spill into the regular season.
Schefter went on to say that the source speculated that he could imagine the star defender sitting out to entire 2017-18 Rams season. The fact that such extreme thoughts exist on Donald’s part gives a very strong indication as to where both sides are in his contract negotiation. Both Donald’s camp and the Rams organization will keep in contact regarding a deal but as of right now, there is massive pessimism regarding how long the holdout could last.
Losing Aaron Donald for any amount of time in the regular season would be a massive blow to the Rams defensive. They have already lost starting defensive end Dominique Easley for the season due to a torn ACL. Without Donald, both of the team’s starting 3-4 defensive ends would be gone.
However, losing Donald would not just be like losing a normal starter. He is the best defensive player on the team and possibly the best defensive player in the NFL. Based on the ratings done by Pro Football Focus, Donald was graded as the second-best player in the league in 2016, only behind Tom Brady. In 2015, Donald was graded as the top player in the league and earned their highest score ever, a 99.9 out of 100.
Rams DT Aaron Donald's holdout is threatening to last into the regular season, per league sources. One source... https://t.co/C3Lk4M1aQz— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 17, 2017
If you are a believer in more traditional football stats, those also back up Donald’s prowess. In three seasons in the NFL, he has racked up 163 total tackles, 28 sacks, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He also led the league in quarterback hits and tied for the most tackles for loss last year. He has also been selected to the Pro Bowl every season and has been a First Team All-Pro each of the last two years. Lastly, he was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year back in 2014.
Under Donald’s current rookie contract, he is due to make $1.8 million this upcoming season. Next season, he is going to make $6.89 million since the Rams picked up his fifth-year option back in April. Considering his ability, he could easily become the highest paid defender in the NFL, getting more than Von Miller’s recent six-year, $114.5 million deal that also gave him $70 million in guaranteed money.
The last time the Rams had a notable player hold out this long was back in 2008 with star running back Steven Jackson. His holdout lasted 27 days into training camp before it finally ended on August 20. Unfortunately for the Rams, it appears Donald’s holdout will pass that date unless negotiations change quickly.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]