Can Rams, Aaron Donald bridge the gap?

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The Rams have paid plenty of money this year to two guys who never have worn the team’s uniform in a preseason or regular-season game. So when will they pay the player who has become in four seasons one of the most dominant forces in the entire league?

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald reportedly has told others that he anticipates having a new deal before the start of training camp. But we’ve been hearing “almost there” for months. Will the deal finally get done?

The answer surely resides in the fundamental differences between what Donald wants and what the Rams will offer. Donald undoubtedly is looking for market value. The Rams, however, can keep him off the market until 2021 at the earliest, via a $6.892 million salary in 2018 and two years of the franchise tag (and roughly $15 million in 2019 and $18 million in 2020).

Under the Rams’ calculation, that’s a three-year haul of just under $40 million. If Donald is looking for $20 million per year, that’s a $20 million gap over the first three years.

The Rams may want to meet in the middle. Donald may be trying to hold firm. His leverage (other than holding out and losing real money) comes from going year to year and forcing his way to the market in 2021, when his franchise-tag number would be close to $26 million (a 44-percent raise over 2020) or the quarterback franchise tender, whichever is greater.

Of course, the Rams may decide to pay whatever it takes to keep him in 2021. Even if the quarterback franchise tag gets to $30 million by then (unlikely), the Rams will have paid $70 million for four years — and that’s still $10 million less than what Donald likely wants over four years.

So then the can gets kicked to 2022, which is an eternity as far as NFL teams are concerned. By then, the player will be closing in on 31, with four more years of wear and tear and Father Time possibly commencing the process of making Donald mortal.

The analysis ultimately is a lot like what the Steelers went through with Le'Veon Bell the last two years. What will it take to get the Rams to surrender the right to squat on Donald for the next four years at something in the range of $70 million?

In answering that question, here’s an important consideration: What will the potential impact on the locker room be, if the Rams continue to stiff Donald after giving Ndamukong Suh $14 million for one year and Brandin Cooks a five-year, $81 million deal? Also, with other key players (like Todd Gurley and Jared Goff) eventually due for new deals, will they fear that their efforts under a wage-scale rookie deal will be rewarded with a protracted game of hardball?

The more immediate concern should be whether Donald would actually hold out and skip game checks. Given that Donald caved last year on the eve of Week One, the Rams could be banking on Donald not passing on his weekly bank deposits.

35 responses to “Can Rams, Aaron Donald bridge the gap?

  1. The Rams need to win it this season because they are going to step up and pay Gurley and Goff soon….. can they also pay Donald? Not likely

  2. He’s gone. Pay a WR that kind of money while you still have your #1 and #2 offensive stars and future foundation waiting to get paid? Good luck. I’d take Donald over Gurley any day. RB’s, even good ones can be had a hell of a lot easier than consistently superior defensive line talent

  3. So paying Brandon Cooks is more of a necessity than paying Donald? Obviously LA has put all of it’s chips on the table for this year and this year only.

  4. The Rams are as dysfunctional as Washington right now, and no one wants to admit it. This is not the NBA you cant buy championships, they will get bounced in the first round. The locker room is lost already, coach is in over his head, they are worrying about what color to paint the house before the concrete foundation is laid. (see what I did there)Cooks paid as top 3 WR, lol dud is a one trick pony, and if he don’t get the ball, watch out, Sean and Bill toss this dude aside, they have rings, what do the rams have(current)

  5. Remember boys and girls. It’s no good being the best player on your team. You have to be a top 5 with potential then someone will pay you bank and you aren’t worth franchising.

    It’s amazing how the NFL has top players on lockdown longer than Baseball when Baseball is paying guys those first few years expressly under something ruled illegal (the reserve clause).

  6. Maybe if they’re paying him only a fraction of what he’s worth, he can/should go out there and put forth that same fraction of effort. That way the Rams will get what they’re paying for.

  7. Also for those who don’t seem to know. A great DT can do nearly as much for a team as a great QB. If you don’t believe me, imagine putting Donald on a 6-5 college team. Name the players who’d get that team more wins than he would. It’s a short list and non-QB’s need not apply.

  8. Pay Donald, but not a ridiculous amount.
    If Donald ever wants to play on a winner, he needs to accept taking the best he can get without limiting the team’s financial ability to sign talent around him.
    Ask Suh, e knows that this is exactly what happens.
    Players are the greediest people on the planet.

  9. Paying Cooks allows the Rams to keep their WR corps together for the next three years. What will that do for their 23 year old QBs development?

    Remember when Tavon Austin was the Rams no 1 WR? Wasn’t that long ago, and their offense was worst in the league.

  10. I’m so sick and tired of these primma Donna divas and their salary demands.

    If you don’t like your salary, go out and apply for a job in your major field of study.

    And then become a working stiff like the rest of us.

  11. They can get a 4 year deal done now easily….
    Pay him 65 mill…. 15 mill at signing this year & with 45 more guarenteed….with the Rams having no ability to franchise him after 4th year…..
    He gets a nice raise immediately upfront, 15 mill a year for 2 years & 15 Million year 4 + 5 additional on incentives….
    He gets great security & Rams can get him 4 more years in his prime

  12. dryzzt23 says: “Players are the greediest people on the planet.”
    ==================================

    And I’m sure you’d be okay with all your co-workers making more money than you. Even those co-workers that are half as productive as you. Hypocrite.

  13. Rams are like a drunk in a liquor store with dad’s credit card.

    Random signings with no forethought to the goal.

  14. amurdora says:
    July 19, 2018 at 9:44 am
    Also for those who don’t seem to know. A great DT can do nearly as much for a team as a great QB. If you don’t believe me, imagine putting Donald on a 6-5 college team. Name the players who’d get that team more wins than he would. It’s a short list and non-QB’s need not apply.

    Im an Eagles fan and fully endorse this. Kind of hard for an offense to get in rhythm with a great DT busting up the middle.

    Id pay a great DT over a WR anyday. You dont need superstar receivers to win the Super Bowl. The Eagles just won without a 1000 yard receiver (or rusher).

  15. Lol…. I just saw the guarenteed money on Cooks 81 million dollar contract…. 20.5 million in guarentees…..

    Basically it a BS contract that LOOKS BIG……

  16. Donald, a lifetime Ram, is being lowballed while all these outsiders are getting top dollar. If I’m Aaron, I stick to my number cause it’s not likely he will have this opportunity for a 3rd contract. Report last day possible to accrue the season and tell them you want a trade. He’s been playing for 10 cents on the dollar long enough.

  17. The Rams big mistake was signing Suh. Now they are screwed. Either pay him or let him go and move on without him.

  18. No one knows what going on, so let’s end all this armchair-GM work. But think about this…Let’s give one player 25% of the salary cap, thats always a good idea, keep that in mind when you say, “pay the man”. I do wish something would come of this soon, tired of hearing about it. Oh STL fans…they are the Los Angeles Rams, just wanted to remind you of that 🙂

  19. 3 year rookie contracts, no “team option” max 1 time franchise tag
    Billionaire money grubbers screwing the players

  20. footballinla says: “Let’s give one player 25% of the salary cap”
    ==============================

    The salary cap is $177.2m – no one is getting 25% of that. Even Matt Ryan’s $30m/yr is only 16.9%, which isn’t that high as a percentage. Brett Favre’s GB contract was at 17.2% of the cap in 1996.

  21. HOF QBs and Stellar defensive lines are how you win Superbowls in this day and age…The Giants, Broncos, Eagles defenses were ferocious and could get pressure only rushing (4) guys…Donald allows you to get pressure with (4) guys…No top 5 paid WRs have won the Superbowl in a long time…Defensive linemen don’t need to rely on anyone to be successful…WRs are only as good as their QB (ask Antonio Brown who sucks when Big Ben is hurt)…Rams are dumb!!!

  22. “Donald allows you to get pressure with (4) guys…”

    Rams are still running a Wade Phillips defense, last year they blitzed as much as anybody.

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