Of the three players currently holding out while under contract, only one of them — Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald — has fewer than four accrued seasons. Because he didn’t report to training camp within 30 days before the first regular-season game of the 2017 season, Donald will remain at three accrued seasons for at least one more year.
If Donald were only a season away from free agency, it would be a much bigger deal. Because he has two years left on his rookie contract, the year of service simply doesn’t matter. He’s trying to get a new deal, and when he does whether and to what extent he qualifies for free agency won’t matter.
Two prior holdouts occurred under similar circumstances, with both Chris Johnson in 2011 and Darrelle Revis in 2010 giving up a fourth accrued season when under contract for two more years. Both got new contracts.
It’s believed Donald eventually will. But it hasn’t happened yet, and ultimately the question may become whether he’ll be willing to skip game checks in order to demonstrate his resolve.