Rams defensive lineman and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald was absent for the start of mandatory mini-camp Tuesday. While this may seem like big news, it came as a surprise to nobody. In fact, it would have been far more surprising if Donald WAS in attendance.
Widely renowned as the most dominant player in all of football, Donald, who is entering his fifth year in the NFL, is on a Hall of Fame pace. The 280 pound ball of pure muscle known as AD is averaging almost 10 sacks per season, numbers simply unheard of for an interior defender. Simply put, 99 is a force to be reckoned with on the inside. In the offseason, he can be seen working on his hands by defending himself as his trainer thrusts steak knives at him.
However, all of this does no good for the Los Angeles Rams if Donald is not in the building. The war between Donald’s representation and the LA front office has been raging on since last offseason, boiling over to the point where Donald missed the team’s week one contest against the Colts. However, the star did eventually return and play in all of the team’s games for the rest of the season.
So the question must be raised, if Donald was willing to miss a game with two years remaining on his contract, what will he be willing to do this year? Unfortunately for Rams management, players, and fans that can not be determined until Donald either signs a contract or bites the bullet and returns as the most underpaid player in all of football (and possibly in the history of the sport).
What Does Donald Want?
With contract negotiations going on for such an extended period of time, one must believe that Donald wants to be paid on a grand scale. This is not entirely unreasonable, considering the young star is on pace to become one of the greatest defensive players to ever step between the white lines. However, with a plethora of young talent, including Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, working its way up the system and needing to be paid as well, will the Rams be willing to meet Donald at high enough a number to satisfy his needs?
Would Snead Let Donald Walk?
This is a thought that sends chills down the spines of Rams fans. Not a single Ram fan can bear to let Donald be the one that got away. Not a single Ram fan can bear to watch Donald toss Jared Goff like a ragdoll like he has done to Russell Wilson so many times. Not a single Ram fan can bear to watch Donald be enshrined in Canton as a member of any other organization. But can Snead? General managers around the league frequently let high profile players walk because what they are asking for is simply too much, and it is not outside of the realm of possibility to imagine Snead would do the same.
In the eyes of many Rams fans it is quite simple: Pay. The. Man.