The Rams are hard at work trying to get Aaron Donald to sign a new contract. The team is encouraged that Donald is at least being responsive this year.
The Los Angeles Rams have had a busy offseason, bringing in a number of free agents that will really help their team. Now, the team is starting to turn its focus on taking care of one of their homegrown talents. The Rams know that locking Aaron Donald down with a new deal must be their top priority.
At the very least, Rams officials think talks this season are going better than they did last summer. Coach Sean McVay told reporters that his talented defensive tackle is “responding more than he was at this time last year.” That doesn’t mean a deal is imminent, but it does mean that progress is being made.
The team has obviously made a decision to go all-in this summer. Adding free agents like Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters was certainly designed to help the team win now. Investing millions of dollars in those defensive stars would be foolish if the team didn’t intend to make sure Donald is on the field with them.
If they aren’t able to make real progress on a deal soon, it could lead to another preseason holdout from Donald. He missed all of preseason last year before returning just before the start of the regular season. The holdout still prevented him from being ready to go for Week 1.
The stakes are higher this year. Last summer, no one outside of the Rams organization really thought they had what it took to reach a Super Bowl. This year, they clearly have a legitimate shot of making a deep playoff run. Entering the season without Donald could torpedo all of the team’s hopes.
Failing to sign Donald to a new deal this summer might also encourage the dominant defender to test free agency in 2019. That’s a potential nightmare scenario for the Rams. They could always choose to franchise Donald, but that would be very expensive. It would also likely worsen relations between the team and its most talented player.
Rams fans can be encouraged about the positive feelings between their coaching staff and Donald at the moment, but it doesn’t mean anything if they can’t get a deal done soon. The stakes are too high for the Rams to blow it this time around.