Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is back. And, per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Rams still want to sign him to a long-term contract. And, as a practical matter, the Rams still hold the cards.
With Donald under contract for two more years and then subject to back-to-back franchise tags, he wouldn’t hit the open market for four years, until he’s on the brink of turning 30. They don’t have to give him a market-value contract, and by the time he makes it to the market he may not be a player who commands market value.
And while Donald found a way to preserve both his money and his body for 2017, he’ll continue to be at the mercy of the team’s leverage — unless and until the team decides to set its leverage aside and sign Donald to a deal worth more than it has to.
Maybe the Rams are taking a hard line after paying too much for receiver Tavon Austin and giving up too much for quarterback Jared Goff. If so, maybe they should wait for the next guy in line for a new deal to play hardball, given Donald’s value to the team.