Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald wanted to turn the current rookie wage structure upside down. While he didn’t quite do so (yet), Donald has created a new precedent for players caught between picks No. 11 and 32 in the draft.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Rams agreed to waive $1.48 million in fines in return for Donald reporting to the team today. By reporting today, Donald also avoided signing bonus forfeiture of $711,500 and the loss of a $106.014 game check. Also, the Rams have agreed that none of Donald’s remaining guarantees ($8.694 million) have been waived by the contract breach arising from the holdout.
So he’s exactly where he would have been financially, if he’d shown up for training camp (minus the per diem and piddly game checks for the preseason). Equally as important, Donald also avoided all injury risk arising from training camp and the preseason. Conversely, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. showed up for training camp — and nearly suffered a season-ending injury during a preseason game.
Talks will continue on a long-term deal for Donald. If one happens this year, great. If not, look for Donald to consider the same approach in 2018.
Either way, look for other plays who are subject to a fifth-year rookie option and who aren’t in the top-10 transition tag range to consider following Donald’s lead if they don’t get a new contract after their first three NFL seasons.