Sean McVay and Les Snead wouldn’t speculate on whether Aaron Donald will report to training camp with his teammates Friday. But it’s a safe bet the Rams don’t expect their All-Pro defensive tackle to show up.
“These are delicate situations,” Snead, the team’s General Manager, said, via Myles Simmons of the team website. “I think you have to respect Aaron and his side in that business move. And it’s really, at that point, all about respect. And yes, we would love for him to be here, hope he’s here; [he] would help if he’s here. But if he decides not to, it’s a thing you have to respect from their group.”
Donald skipped the voluntary OTAs because of his contract situation. He has outplayed a contract scheduled to pay him $1.8 million in salary and $1.4 million in bonuses this season. The Rams exercised their fifth-year option, putting Donald in line for $6.9 million in 2018. But he wants a long-term deal that will pay him as the best player at his position.
Forty defensive tackles have higher averages than Donald, including the highest-paid, Ndamukong Suh, at $19.1 million per season.
Snead characterized the dialogue with Donald and his representatives as open.
“I think we’re working to find the resolution,” Snead said. “I don’t want to get into optimistic or pessimistic, because it’s a complicated situation, and [we] respect Aaron and his group. We’re working to try to find a win-win.”
New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has changed the defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4, but it won’t affect Donald much. As long as Donald is in the lineup for the start of the season, the Rams feel good. In the meantime, training camp will go on without him.
“I think, certainly, Aaron’s a great player,” McVay said. “He’s one of the best players in this league, especially at his position. But it’s one of those deals with the NFL — whether it’s guys not reporting or injuries for whatever matter — guys have to be able to step up. And we feel very confident in our defensive depth.”