Even with deadline connected, Rams don’t expect Aaron Donald to show up in Baltimore on Tuesday
A flight from Pittsburgh to Baltimore takes about an hour, a drive a little more than four.
The Rams are not expecting holdout defensive tackle Aaron Donald to make the trip by Tuesday.
That is the deadline for last season’s NFL defensive player of the year to report without losing a year of accrued service toward becoming an unrestricted free agent.
“I don’t think anything’s going to change with that in the near future,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday after a joint practice with the Baltimore Ravens. “I’ve had a little bit of dialogue with Aaron and we’re hopeful that we’ll get something done.
“But I don’t think there’s any realistic deal to kind of that Aug. 7 being a date that changes really anything. But you never know. And things remain the same.
“I’m looking forward to trying to connect with him later [Monday] and we’ll see where we’re at.”
If Donald does not report, he could become a restricted free agent in 2019, although that point is generally considered moot because the Rams can still control him for as many as three seasons with the franchise tag.
Donald, in the fifth year of a rookie deal that will pay him about $6.9 million this season, is thought to be seeking an extension that would not only make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, but also put him among the league’s highest-paid players.
Asked if it would be a surprise if Donald showed up Tuesday, McVay said, “It would be. Yeah, I’d be surprised.”
Last year, Donald sat out training camp and reported on the eve of the season opener. The Rams excused the $40,000-a-day fines he accrued for sitting out training camp and preseason games.
Donald’s absence from a mandatory June minicamp could cost him $60,000. He also could be accruing $40,000-a-day fines during camp. As a player who is scheduled to play under a fifth-year option, he also could be fined $430,750 — the equivalent of a regular-season game check — for each preseason game he misses.
Donald’s teammates do not sound overly concerned.
“We’ve talked about it from time to time but, I mean, we don’t focus on it,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We’re here with the guys we’ve got here, but we’d love to have Aaron as soon as it gets done.”
Defensive lineman Michael Brockers said that he had not contacted Donald recently but was confident Donald was preparing on his own.
“I know he’s working. I know he’s grinding,” Brockers said, adding, “Doing everything possible where he’s in shape when he comes here. So, that’s all I can look forward to. Whenever he gets here he’s ready to roll.”
The history between Rams cornerback Aqib Talib and Ravens receiver Michael Crabtree, and the hot and humid conditions during a two-hour practice, seemed as if it could be an environment ripe for conflict.
But Talib lined up across Crabtree 10 times during drills without incident. Talib broke up the only pass that came Crabtree’s way.
“Aqib is a smart player, he’s a leader,” McVay said. “I think he knew that there would be a lot of eyes on that specific situation and [I] trusted that based on our conversations he’d be smart about it and he certainly was.”
In each of the last two seasons, Talib and Crabtree fought during games. Talib was playing for the Denver Broncos, Crabtree the Oakland Raiders. In both instances, Talib ripped a gold chain from Crabtree’s neck.
Last season, both players were ejected and served one-game suspensions.
Talib had downplayed the potential for conflict.
“Just going out there to get some work,” he said last week when asked about his history with Crabtree. “Just going to play football.”
Stay tuned: The teams practice again Tuesday.
McVay indicated that Goff could be among the starters who will sit out against the Ravens on Thursday night in the Rams’ preseason opener. “That’s a big part of being able to get good work in here and kind of limit some of the risk for injuries,” McVay said, “but that’s something we’ll determine as a staff after [Tuesday’s practice].” Said Goff: “Whatever he wants to do, we’re on board with.” … Safety Lamarcus Joyner practiced after sitting out the previous three workouts because of an Achilles issue. … Brockers grew up in Houston, played at Louisiana State and began his NFL career in St. Louis, so he is accustomed to practicing in muggy weather. But after spending two-plus years in Southern California, he said that Monday’s 90-degree conditions were an initial shock. “Yeah, when you’re spoiled with having great weather — 70 degrees, no humidity, little breeze — you know, you’re a little spoiled. So when you get out here, yeah, it was a little thick when we first got out here.”… McVay on the Ravens’ facility: “You feel like you’re pulling up to a country club, so pretty nice.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.