The Aaron Donald negotiations with the Los Angeles Rams are at a standstill. At what point do the Rams need to consider a Plan B?
The Aaron Donald negotiations became a lot more interesting after the Los Angeles Rams‘ exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders. The Rams suddenly showed the foundation of a capable offense during their 24-21 win over the Raiders. Quarterback Jared Goff — for one night — quelled talk of being a huge bust. Running back Todd Gurley looked like the Gurley of 2015.
Running back Todd Gurley looked like the Gurley of 2015. The offensive line appeared much improved. If the offense continues on its arc of success, the Rams could be the surprise team of 2017. If…
The jury still is out on the defense, which played without a handful of starters against the Raiders. But a Wade Phillips-coached, fully-stocked Rams unit should be solid again. With Donald, the three-time Pro Bowler defensive tackle whom the Rams will move to end, the sky is the limit.
But there is the small matter of getting him to arrive in camp. How long the Rams are willing to wait for his arrival is the question. The next question is: When do the Rams start making other plans — like considering a trade?
Donald rightfully is holding out because he will make less than $9 million over the next two seasons as part of his rookie contract. Most NFL pundits agree that Donald is one of the top defensive players in the game, if not the best (per Pro Football Focus).
ESPN.com’ Rams beat writer Alden Gonzalez even proclaimed of the Donald negotiations, “The Rams need this.” That’s true, especially if the Rams are trying to reconnect with the Los Angeles fanbase. Over the Cap even projected a five-year, $100 million deal the Rams could present to Donald.
And the Rams already have set a precedent by renegotiating with both linebacker Robert Quinn and wide receiver Tavon Austin after their third years of their five-year contracts. The fact remains, however, that the Rams could keep Donald from going anywhere for the next four years. He has two years remaining on his contract, and the team could then use the franchise tag on him twice.
And that would likely cost the Rams less than what it’ll cost to negotiate a new contract.
As good as Donald is, he cannot cost the team so much that it can’t build a contender around him. The Rams still have a lot of holes around him that they have to plug. Coach Sean McVay is trying to create a “We, not me” culture. The Rams breaking the bank to sign Donald would not fit that culture. Donald not agreeing to a deal that allows the team to build around him for the next few years does not fit that culture.
The Rams need to prepare for the scenario that they may not come to a settlement in the Donald negotiations and have a Plan B ready.