There are a lot of rumors swirling around about Aaron Donald and the Rams being close to a contract extension, but Sean McVay isn’t buying them.
No one wants to see Aaron Donald back on the field for the Los Angeles Rams more than their head coach, Sean McVay. His presence on the defensive line makes McVay’s job much easier. Unfortunately, the Rams’ head man isn’t as optimistic about the team’s contract talks with Donald as most other people.
McVay claims that reports insisting Donald and the team are close to agreeing to a new contract are news to him. He admits both sides are engaged in dialogue at the moment, but he doesn’t believe anything meaningful has changed. In other words, the Rams and Donald still disagree on just how much he should be paid moving forward.
At some point, one of these sides is going to have to blink. Given the fact that Donald has already proven he’s willing to hold out over the issue, it’s a safe bet it’s going to be the Rams. Their front office knows they need a happy, healthy and productive Donald to make their Super Bowl dreams come true. They don’t need to capitulate to his salary demands immediately, but they should be strongly motivated to get a deal done in enough time for him to be a starter Week 1.
The biggest challenge in these negotiations is the position that Donald plays. He lines up almost every down at defensive tackle. However, his true impact on a defense transcends the positional value provided by every other defensive tackle in the NFL. The team wants to use that classification to depress his value. Predictably, Donald wants to be paid based on his overall contributions on the field instead of just being compared to what other DTs earn.
The solution here is for both sides to meet in the middle. Donald deserves to be significantly more than any other defensive tackle in the game. There’s a reasonable argument to be made that he should be the highest paid defender in the game regardless of position.
The Rams don’t need to go quite that far, but they need to blow the defensive tackle pay scale away. Once they do that, they can get Donald back on the field. The longer they wait, the more risk they run of getting their regular season off to a rocky start.