Can the Rams’ front office handle the Aaron Donald holdout? Define “handle.”
What the hell are the Los Angeles Rams doing?
Actually, I should be more specific: what the hell is the front office doing?
I can accept that Aaron Donald is holding out. That’s not the problem. Plenty of NFL players on competent teams have held out in the past. I can accept both sides have an idea of what Donald’s contract should look like and they will disagree.
But the incompetence of the Rams’ front office, specifically a luscious-locked blonde and his trusted companion Kevin Demoff, is what will screw this team. Very badly.
It’s hilarious for everyone but the Rams’ fan base, who are pulling out their own locks. Seeing their best player, and the best player in the NFL, hold out of training camp is tough. It’s a sign of rougher times ahead if Donald doesn’t get his way. Which he should. He is one of the few (very few) reasons why this team is watchable.
Well, watchable on the football field, at least.
Off the field, Snead and company make it a cringe-fest of front office disfunction. Say what you will about the NFL off-season, but with the Rams, it’s at least interesting.
“We’re dedicated to getting this guy signed long-term,” says the team that franchise-tagged the same player two years in-a-row, while also looking to trade him, and then decided against it because no one would take him.
Give the Rams credit: they are transparent. They called a press conference on Friday to explain that Donald was holding out but it’s okay because they’re working hard.
“Today is no different than yesterday or this spring,” Snead said. “Aaron’s play speaks for itself; that’s the reason we want to make him a Ram long-term. Today doesn’t change that urgency at all.”
Oh good. I was beginning to worry the urgency to sign the league’s best player was fading. Hope is restored.
Mo’ bad contracts, Mo’ problems
The Rams owe Trumaine Johnson more than $16 million this year. According to ProFootballFocus (PFF), Johnson was No. 26 among 32 starting corners. While that’s not a bad ranking, it speaks volumes that a solid cornerback is eating 10 percent of the salary cap this year.
And let’s not forget that Tavon Austin is eating $14 million this year. That’s $14 million of his 4-year/$42 million extension signed last year.
Reason for the extension?
“It is important to our organization to retain players we’ve drafted and invested in, and Tavon is an example of that,” said now-canned head coach Jeff Fisher.
Let that sink in: the Rams said they value retaining their draft picks. Was that new company policy established last year when Austin signed his extension? It did not occur to me they felt that way after letting Janoris Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, and T.J. McDonald walk.
Well, actually, I am not being fair. The Rams did sign Michael Brockers to an extension.
So, for those keeping score: the front office is 1-for-4 in retaining good draft picks, 1-for-1 in signing mediocre draft picks, and 2-for-2 in applying the franchise tag (Johnson twice).
Say one thing, Do another
None of this is news. I’m screaming into an echo chamber because history is repeating itself.
What was done to Johnson will most likely be done to Donald, if I am being pessimistic/realistic. That’s best-case scenario.
I am not taking anything away from Michael Brockers. He’s a talented interior lineman. He’s not in high demand. Brockers is a solid guy who could get a decent contract if he left the Rams, but LA could survive without him.
That’s what makes all of this seem like kangaroo court. The Rams say they want to retain their draft picks, but only succeed in signing those middle-of-the-pack talents.
Tavon Austin makes top receiver money without being a top receiver or even a top weapon.
Signing Donald would make things a lot easier on a creditability standpoint for the front office. But Donald is the first mountain in the entire range the team has to get through. After him, other top draft picks will be up for contract extensions.
The nightmare treks on.
Tim Godfrey is a writer for Pro Football Spot’s Los Angeles Rams, to read more articles from Tim click here.