By now it seems like the Los Angeles Rams are trolling defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
The Rams have had one of the busiest offseasons in recent history, and that includes signing their own players to large extensions. The latest player to get paid by the Rams is right tackle Rob Havenstein. He got a four-year extension worth more than $32 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Havenstein joins receiver Brandin Cooks and running back Todd Gurley, who got huge extensions this summer from the Rams. And all of this money is being spent while Donald, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year, waits for his own extension.
Donald is holding out, and it’s getting weird how the Rams seem intent on paying everyone other than him.
Rams have handed out some huge contracts
Havenstein got a reported $8 million a year. Cooks got $16.2 million, even though he hasn’t even played a game for the Rams. He was acquired in a trade this offseason. Gurley got a little less than $14.4 million, even though his deal went through the 2019 season.
Those three players deserved the deals they got. Havenstein is a good run blocker on the right side. Cooks is a first-round talent and annually reaches 1,000 yards receiving. Gurley won NFL offensive player of the year last season.
They’re all very good players. But Donald isn’t just the best player on the Rams, he might be the best non-quarterback in the entire NFL. The Rams paid fellow defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh $14 million in free agency. The three Rams who recently signed extensions got more than $38 million per season combined.
It’s not necessarily as easy as taking the money given to those players and giving it to Donald instead. But it might not be the worst idea, either.
What’s the holdup with Aaron Donald?
The Donald issue hasn’t snuck up on the Rams. Donald held out all last preseason, reported before Week 1 and then was the best defensive player in football.
The Rams have put out public optimism about a deal getting done soon. Last week Rams general manager Les Snead said the two sides were in the “same ZIP code, area code, ballpark,” but there’s still no deal. Havenstein’s contract got done first and while one doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the other — Havenstein got a perfectly reasonable deal for a right tackle of his talent, while Donald is presumably asking to be the highest paid defensive player in NFL history or very close — it’s a strange optic for the Rams as Donald holds out.
The Rams have Super Bowl dreams, but those take a big hit if Donald holds out deep into the regular season. Los Angeles has done very well to get some of their young players signed to long extensions. Now it’s time to take care of their best player.
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