It didn't take long for Rams general manager Les Snead to acknowledge that Donald was sitting out because of contract-related reasons.
“I can tell you this, we’re definitely at the serious stages of renegotiating,” Snead said, adding he’d keep the details of the discussions in-house, according to TheRams.com. “But [we] respect Aaron as a player, a person, respect his representation, and respect the process.”
The Rams had announced last month that they were picking up the fifth-year option on Donald's rookie contract for the 2018 season. It appears that it could be a matter of time before both sides agree to a new long-term to keep the star defensive lineman in Los Angeles well beyond his current deal.
This potential extension could easily rival that of J.J. Watt's five-year, $100 million
Despite all that, head coach Sean McVay sounds quite confident that things will be worked out.
“Yeah, everything is good with Aaron," McVay said. "We expected him not to be here today, but what we have seen from Aaron this offseason in terms of the effort, the way that he’s competed, been very pleased with him. It is voluntary right now, so whenever we get him back we’ll feel good about that.”
Since being selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Donald has become arguably the best defensive player in the league. In his first three years, he has quickly become a game-changer as he leads all defensive tackles in sacks (28.0), and tackles for loss (57.0). During this span, he ranks second in the NFL behind Watt for tackles for loss.
Although he experienced a drop in his sack total to just eight in the 2016 campaign, Donald recorded 36 tackles, 31 hits on the quarterback, two forced fumbles, and a league-leading 17 tackles-for-loss. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 82 quarterback pressures, which was five more than any other interior