Every year this is usually a couple of players who sit out of organized team activities (OTA’s) to voice their frustration about how well they are being compensated. One player clearly pissed-off about how much dinero he is bringing in is Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Donald, entering his fifth NFL season, did the same thing last year by sitting out of Ram’s training camp. It got him a little behind the 8-ball, but that didn’t stop him from winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year this past season despite missing two games.
So, how much is this guy actually worth? In short, a lot. The former University of Pittsburgh product has been a force since entering the league. Donald has already racked up 39 sacks in his career, which is impressive in itself, but the fact that it has come from the interior of the trenches makes it even more astounding.
Getting to the quarterback isn’t even the biggest part of Donald’s tremendous play. Yes he applies plenty (and I mean plenty) of pressure on the golden boy’s , but the attention he garners from the offensive line allows others on the Rams defense to make plays. If the guard and center have to pay attention to Donald, it opens lanes for players like Connor Barwin to charge into the backfield with a full-head of steam. Donald changes the whole dynamic of the defense.
At the moment, Donald is still in his rookie contract after the Rams picked up his 5th year option priced at $6,982,000.00. To broke people like me, that’s a lot of money. But to Donald, who sees money getting tossed around the league to subpar players over and over, he thinks he deserves more; which he does.
The issue with Donald’s predicament is that defensive tackle is not considered a “vital” position in the NFL. That belongs to the quarterbacks, linebackers, offensive tackles, and cornerbacks, so the Rams may not be able to pay him what he is actually worth.
His new teammate Ndamukong Suh was paid the highest ever for a defensive tackle, but eventually was cut from his contract from the Miami Dolphins; so that’s how that worked out. The Rams, just like the rest of the league, saw this so why would they be ready to toss money Donald’s way after what they saw the Suh contract turn into for Miami?
Donald is going to suit up this season. The Rams have leverage in the contract negotiations. They already showed they can handle Donald’s drama last season when he sat out for a bit. Los Angeles knows they have Donald on a bargain, but they aren’t quite ready to give him the $20 million-a-year he wants.
If they do want to keep him, they are going to have to make him either the highest-paid defensive lineman or player in the league. They should do it. Some team will and if the Rams let him walk, they could derail the potential dynasty that they are trying to build.
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)