Aaron Donald’s holdout continues, but Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay said Saturday there has been “increased dialogue” between the team and the star defensive lineman.
Echoing some phrases general manager Les Snead used earlier in the week, McVay updated reporters after Saturday’s practice.
“Same ball park, zip code. That’s good,” said McVay.
“Let’s put it this way: There’s increased dialogue. There’s more … we feel positive about the direction that these things are going. I think there’s a level of urgency that’s being displayed from us. I know that they know how much we value him and appreciate Aaron. Hopefully, we’ll see some things change on that front sooner than later, but it’s still kind of in the same boat.”
Snead said Wednesday the Rams and Donald were “in the same zip code, area code, ballpark” in their negotiations. Snead, who said the Rams have an offer on the table, clarified that “Zip code usually means you’re close, but we still haven’t agreed.”
Per NFL rules, Tuesday marked the deadline for players to report to training camp in order to accrue a season toward free agency, as it is 30 days before the NFL season opener. However, that deadline — which Donald missed last year when he held out for all of camp — wasn’t expected to spur any action to reach an agreement.
“I know there’s a huge level of urgency from our side in terms of how important he is, wanting to be proactive about trying to find a solution, get this thing done. We’ll see if we can get that situation handled,” McVay said.
After waiting to report until Week 1 last year, Donald has just three seasons accrued toward free agency. By not reporting on time this season, he would be eligible only for restricted free agency, rather than unrestricted, when his contract is scheduled to expire in the spring. In either instance, however, the Rams would very likely use the franchise tag on Donald to prevent him from negotiating with other teams, assuming no extension is signed before then.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Donald is very likely seeking to become the highest-paid defender in league history, but it’s unclear how much of a gap remains between the two sides in negotiations. Von Miller leads all NFL defenders with a deal that averages just over $19 million annually.
The Rams have been able to reach deals with other core players recently, extending both wideout Brandin Cooks and running back Todd Gurley in a span of a week before training camp opened. They have repeatedly been vocal about their plan to re-sign Donald.
Donald, 27, has made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons and has three first-team All-Pro nods. He earned just over $10.1 million from 2014-17 and is due $6.9 million this season, the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.
–Field Level Media