The Rams and star defensive tackle Aaron Donald have not reached an agreement on a new contract, but general manager Les Snead intimated Wednesday that the sides were not completely at odds in regard to a proposed extension.
“We’re in the same ZIP Code, area code, ballpark,” he said.
So the two sides are close?
“ZIP Code usually means you’re close,” Snead said, “but we still haven’t agreed.”
Snead made his comments as a long procession of Rams players descended a hotel escalator en route to team buses that would take them to the Baltimore Ravens’ practice facility for a walk-through.
Donald, of course, was not among them.
The reigning NFL defensive player of the year remains a holdout, the Tuesday deadline for the four-time Pro Bowl accruing a season toward unrestricted free agency having passed.
“I think all of us weren’t anticipating Aaron showing up on the 7th,” Snead said. “As we worked through this, we always figured this wasn’t the date, per se.”
Donald, the 13th pick in the 2014 draft, is scheduled to earn about $6.9 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract. He is believed to be seeking a deal that would make him not only the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, but put him in the realm of the game’s highest-paid players — at $20 million or more per season.
“Nothing’s changed since we started this process,” Snead said. “The goal is like, ‘Hey, come up with a win-win solution for the reigning defensive MVP and the Los Angeles Rams,’ and that’s a long-term contract for Aaron Donald.”
If he plays this season without a new deal, Donald could become a restricted free agent in 2019. But the Rams could nix those plans by putting the franchise tag on him in each of the next three seasons.
Coach Sean McVay joked last week that he was having “nightmares” about the situation. He said Tuesday that he has been in contact with Donald but steers clear of contract discussions.
The Rams open the preseason Thursday night against the Ravens. Their final preseason game is Aug. 30 at New Orleans, and the season opener is Sept. 10 at Oakland.
Snead said that there was not a specific date for getting a deal done and that the Rams would not “put a false timeline” on the process.
“Whatever the date is to prepare for the regular season,” he said, “but again, there’s no hard date there.”