The Los Angeles Rams will conduct their first game-week practice on Wednesday, and they’re going to be doing it without their best player. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is still holding out for a new contract, and he’s at home on the east coast, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Donald is set to make $1.8 million in base salary this season, and $6.9 million in the final year of his contract in 2018. His signing bonus was a healthy $5.7 million, but beyond that, he’s severely underpaid as one of the most dominant defenders in the NFL.
He might even be the best defender in the entire NFL at this point. Ndamukong Suh signed a deal with nearly $60 million guaranteed with the Miami Dolphins while Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is getting $70 million guaranteed in his $114 million deal. Donald’s deal is going to have to be in that range.
And if the Rams hope to be good at all in the near future, they need Donald. For now, he seems to stand a real shot of missing the team’s Week 1 game against the Indianapolis Colts. Donald has yet to take a real snap in the 3-4 defense that Wade Phillips is installing under Sean McVay this year.
The 49ers will play the Rams in Week 3, and this holdout has been described by those in the know as something that could seriously run long into the regular season. That creates the chance he misses that game, though with contract talks, Donald could sign a deal five minutes after this article goes up.
Neither the 49ers nor the Rams figure to be very good this season, but the Rams are definitely going to be a lot worse off if they can’t get Donald signed to a new deal.