The Rams made big news Tuesday by signing Brandin Cooks to a long-term deal, but locking up Aaron Donald would be even more important.
The issue of Aaron Donald’s future has hung like a cloud over the Rams offseason. Fortunately for fans of football in Los Angeles, that might be about to change.
Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the talented defensive tackle has told close friends that he “anticipates a new deal being done before camp opens.” It’s impossible to overstate how important that would be for the future of the Rams franchise.
Donald is arguably the top defensive player in the game today. His ability to both rush the passer and clog up the middle against the run makes him a nightmare for opposing offenses. He’s a physical freak in every sense of the word.
Moreover, he isn’t the sort of player you can replace through either free agency or the draft. Donald is the rare sort of talent that teams can’t afford to let go.
He also has the distinction of being one of the game’s most underpaid stars at the moment. Donald will only make a little over $6.8 million in 2018. It’s safe to say the Rams won’t be able to keep his future salary anywhere near that level.
He’ll certainly want a contract north of the $17 million and change Fletcher Cox will make for the Eagles this year. Initial indications are that Donald and his representatives want him to break the $20 million barrier per season.
The Rams front office may not give in to that request, but don’t expect Donald’s salary to be far away from that mark. He holds a ton of leverage against the team in this situation.
Yes, they can use the franchise tag on him for a couple of seasons, but that would bring the star defender entirely too close to free agency for the team’s liking.
The Rams have Super Bowl dreams this year, and they will need a happy and healthy Aaron Donald to realize them. Giving him the big money contract he deserves might give him the extra edge to help Los Angeles win a title.