Rams, Donald Having "Legit Game Of Chicken"

Aaron Donald wants to be paid, and the Rams want to pay him. It's just that they, well, haven't

Taz and the Moose
August 07, 2018 - 10:16 am

USA Today Images


The Los Angeles Rams, who have signed or traded for several elite players this offseason, are all-in on 2018. There’s just one problem: Aaron Donald, perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL, isn’t at camp.

Two words: contract dispute.

“They’re going to have to do something,” NBC Sports NFL analyst Ross Tucker said on Taz & The Moose. “I wouldn’t blame Aaron Donald if he sits out and only plays the last six games to get the credited season. It’s a bad situation. I’ve been told now for a good year-and-a-half by people, ‘Oh, they’ll get it done. Oh, don’t worry about it. They’re going to get a new contract. It’s fine.’ It’s not fine. It’s not OK.”

Donald, the 13th overall pick in 2014, is slated to make just under $7 million this season.

“I think the Rams look at it and say, ‘Is he really going to miss the big paychecks and the games when they come?’ And I think that Aaron Donald says, ‘They went all-in on this year with Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh and Marcus Peters. Do they really want to take the chance that I miss a couple games?’” Tucker outlined. “If Aaron Donald misses a couple games, that could easily be the difference between them winning or losing that game. You look at the NFC, that could be the difference between a bye or not. That could be the difference between home-field advantage or not. And with that many really good football teams in the NFC, I don’t think you want to take that chance if you’re the L.A. Rams. So we’ve got a legit game of chicken going on right now.”

Tucker said the relationship seems “cordial,” but make no mistake: Donald is unhappy.

“Once you start to pay all these other guys, that’s when the frustration builds,” Tucker said. “Ndamukong Suh and Aqib Talib and even Brandin Cooks, all three of those guys are making more money this year than Aaron Donald has ever made. None of them have ever played a snap for the Rams, and Aaron Donald has given them four unbelievable years. So you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think there’s some frustration there.”

The Rams are reportedly willing to pay top dollar for the three-time All-Pro and 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, but Donald apparently wants more.

“I think the argument for the Rams is, ‘Look, we’re offering to make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. We’re offering to make him the highest-paid defensive lineman in the NFL, but he wants more than that,’” Tucker explained. “They kind of backed themselves into a corner with the Gurley deal where you made Gurley the highest-paid running back in the NFL on a multi-year deal by double over Devonta Freeman. The Rams don’t even have that part of the argument anymore. They could have said, ‘Aaron, we’re willing to make you the highest paid guy, but we’re not going to go above and beyond.’ They just went above and beyond for Gurley, who’s a year younger and has a year less of service than Aaron Donald. 

“So I think it would be inhuman to think Aaron Donald is not getting very, very frustrated,” Tucker continued. “We’ll see. He has said he’s not going to play in a game until he gets paid. I really doubt the Rams actually want him to miss a game. I still think somehow, some way, they get it done.”

The Rams open against the Raiders on Sept. 10 on Monday Night Football. Kickoff is at 10:20 p.m. ET.