Aaron Donald deserves to be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
So let’s just get that out of the way at the very top, lest anyone thinks sides are being taken in a contract holdout that has cost Donald all of training camp and preseason. And if he doesn’t report in the next day or so, it likely will mean sitting out at least the Rams’ season opener Sept. 10 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Repeat: Aaron Donald deserves to be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
Have we cleared that up?
Let’s make something else clear: It’s time for Donald to end his contract holdout and get back to Los Angeles.
Preferably by Friday. But absolutely in time for Donald to be available when the Rams open the season at the Coliseum.
He’s taken his stand far enough by holding out. Made his point loud and clear.
Up until now, we’ve all just sort of stood off to the side and nodded in agreement. Of course Donald needs to be compensated as one of the best players in the NFL. And if it means him sitting out some voluntary offseason practices and skipping the grind of training camp and not suiting up for some meaningless preseason games nobody pays much attention to, so be it.
Nothing was being lost, tangibly, other than time and preparation.
If it meant the Rams standing up and taking notice and ultimately doing right by Donald as a result, that’s something we can all get behind.
Thing is, the Rams got that point a long time ago.
And while they won’t say so publicly, there is a strong sense they’ve made it clear they are open to making Donald the highest-paid defensive player in the league relative to annual average salary while guaranteeing him a life-changing amount of money.
If you’re doing the math at home, that means Donald making $70 million in guaranteed money and, should he play out the length of the deal, pocket $118 million or so.
For point of reference, think somewhere above Ndamukong Suh’s six-year, $114.4 million deal that guarantees him $60 million, and Von Miller’s six-year, $114 million contract that guarantees him $70 million.
That’s an incredibly fair offer given that Donald has two years remaining on his original rookie deal and that, frankly, with the Rams controlling him for at least the next four years they aren’t obligated to do anything.
But they understand Donald has massively outplayed his rookie contract, and the $8.7 million he has coming to him over the next two seasons is almost an insult…