Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle and former Pitt star Aaron Donald is currently in the midst of a holdout, and Tuesday represented a crossroads on that front, as his failure to report to camp would result in his designation as a restricted free agent rather than an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season. Tuesday came and went, and Donald never showed.
However, Donald did make an appearance at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the fifth practice of Pitt’s preseason training camp and even got a workout in during his visit.
The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year’s absence from the Rams’ preseason camp was expected, as Adam Schefter of ESPN noted on Monday morning, “He’s determined not to play until he has a new deal.” Schefter later added Donald would not report to camp “anytime soon.”
The crux of the issue is that Donald has consistently ranked among the top defenders in the National Football League since his arrival in 2014, but he is still locked into a rookie contract that falls well short of providing him compensation commensurate with his franchise-altering impact.
Through the first four seasons of his career, Donald earned an average annual salary of $1.1 million. What makes that so egregious is the fact that the league average as of 2015 was $2.1 million, according to Forbes, and the Pitt product’s contributions have far exceeded the norm.
In the first four years of his career, Donald has racked up 148 tackles, 39 sacks, nine forced fumbles and nine passes defended. And more to the point, he’s led the Rams out of the mediocrity they were mired in during their time in St. Louis and helped turn the team into one of the gems of the league upon its arrival in Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest market.
For his efforts, he was named the 2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, earned a first-team All-Pro nod every season since 2015, then capped off that run by accepting the aforementioned NFL Defensive Player of the Year award back in February.
However, he’s still waiting on a contract that reflects any of that.