NFL fans may have to wait longer than expected before they see Aaron Donald take the field this season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Donald’s holdout for a new contract could last well into the 2017 season.
Appearing on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” on Tuesday morning, Schefter said there was a “realistic chance” that Donald could miss the first half of the season before reporting to the Los Angeles Rams.
“Now they’re in Nowhere Land, and Aaron Donald is going to miss the start of the regular season,” Schefter said. “He’s going to miss multiple games into the season. And I think there’s every chance that he misses about a half a season.”
Donald is signed to make about $3.2 million this season between salary and bonuses, but he has proved to be one of the best defensive players in the league and now wants to be paid like it. For perspective, 10 defensive tackles across the NFL are expected to make $10 million or more this year.
The Rams reportedly had a valuable offer for Donald on the table before the start of training camp, but Donald’s representation insisted it was not a fair price for the Pro Bowler and decided to keep at negotiations. Now, both the Rams and Donald himself are in a tough spot.
After this season, Donald has a team option that will be picked up in 2018 and then potentially two years of the Rams’ placing the franchise tag on him, meaning that if the team wants to keep him in Los Angeles at the rate it sees fit, it can do so for the next four years. But the Rams want their best player on the field, and it looks as if Donald has no intention of doing that until a new deal is reached.
We’ve seen players miss time over contract disputes before. Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks missed the first two games of the 2015 season before coming back even though a new deal was never signed. And it was well into August before Joey Bosa and the Chargers came to an agreement on his rookie contract last year, but the eventual deal worked out for both parties after a season in which Bosa won defensive rookie of the year. That said, a player of Donald’s caliber missing half the season would be unprecedented.
Schefter added that the holdout would most likely have to end at eight games, after which Donald’s contract could be “tolled,” meaning his current deal would be extended by a year.
You can watch Schefter’s comments below.