The Los Angeles Rams had an above average defense, but with cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib on board, their defensive swag is high. On top of those moves, Ndamukong Suh will be paired with Defensive Player of the Year defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Or, will he? The Rams gave Suh a one-year, $14 million deal this offseason. The DT he was paired with is still waiting on his payday.  

Due to ongoing contract negotiations between the two parties, Aaron Donald is holding out of training camp for the second straight year. It looks like he has no plans to rejoin the team for training camp. How was an extension for Donald not priority number one? 

“We’re in the same zip code,” Rams general manger Les Snead said, suggesting they may not be far apart in contract talks “Nothing has changed since we started this process. The goal is still to come up with a win-win situation for the reigning defensive MVP and the Los Angeles Rams, and that’s a long-term contract for Aaron Donald.” 

Donald has out-performed his current contract since he was a first-round pick in 2014. The problem with last year’s holdout is, he has just three years of credit even though the 2018 season is his fifth in the league. Staying at three years by holding out again this year will prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Donald is scheduled to earn $6.9 million of his rookie contract. However, his play demands a contract in excess of $20 million per season. That number would make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, but it can be argued he’s the best player in the league. 

Donald put up 11 sacks and five, forced fumbles last season leading the defense and the Rams to the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 season. He’s made the Pro Bowl in all his first, four seasons, is a three-time, First Team All-Pro member and won the 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year. That sounds like a promotion. His Defensive Player of the Year season was won while playing only 14 games. What makes things worse is, Donald has watched wide receiver Brandin Cooks and running back Todd Gurley sign extensions with the Rams, while having little progress in his extension talks. Some feel Cooks was overpaid. 

The Rams are good and are expected to take the next step as Super Bowl contenders. Not having one of the best players in the league won’t help their cause. Donald is one of the few players who can change the game on every snap. At just 27 years old, he has the opportunity to be a defensive building block for many seasons to come. The Rams must sign him to an extension sooner than later. Los Angeles is the city of the stars and there may be no bigger defensive star than Donald. 

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S.K. Patrick is a sports journalist from Louisville, Ky with over 5 years of sports journalism experience. Patrick graduated from the University of Louisville with his BA in mass communications and a minor in marketing. Patrick has been part of Louisville's local sports community for several years. He’s a former high school football player and little league football coach. Patrick has covered press conferences and games for U of L’s Sports Information Office. He now covers the ACC, along with Western Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati. He has reported on Rick Pitino, Bobby Petrino, Jimbo Fisher, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, and many others. Professionally he has covered the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

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