Los Angeles Rams  

 

Aaron Donald, Rams clear hurdle, but will he get new deal?

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A day before their first game of the season, the Rams received a present they can't quite open yet. Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald ended his training camp-long holdout and showed up. He passed his physical, rejoined his team and saved himself a lot of money.

It remains to be seen whether the two sides can come together to ensure he makes a lot of money.

The Rams and the megastar defender have been attempting to negotiate a deal that likely would make him the highest-paid defensive player in football. They have not found a resolution to this point, and perhaps both sides have found the breakthrough they need with Donald returning to the team. Though it would've been difficult to do a deal while he was away from the team, perhaps the goodwill from him showing up will be enough to push it across the finish line.

As for Sunday, Donald won't play in the opener against the Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Scott Tolzien. He might not play next week, either, as he works himself back into shape after missing camp.

And he does have more than ample insurance, sources say, in case of injury. As far as why he arrived after working out in Pittsburgh, it's more than just wanting to be there for his teammates. At the least, a holdout likely would've cost Donald roughly $2.3 million. When he showed up, the Rams waived the fines, which would have been $1.48 million, sources say. He avoided the $711,500 in signing bonus forfeiture, kept all his $8.7 million guarantees, and didn't miss any game checks ($106,014 per week).

If the holdout had gone to eight games, all told, he would've lost about $3 million after having made $8 million in his career.

New coach Sean McVay has not had his team's best player in the building, save for a few weeks of the offseason program. Donald has not really worked in Wade Phillips' new scheme since the staff came in.

There are some unknowns that won't be solved quickly.

The Rams negotiated hard with Donald during the spring, then made an offer at the start of camp. When his holdout became official, it became clear a breakthrough would take time. Then members of the organization's brass flew to Atlanta to meet with Donald's reps.

Donald made a gesture of his own -- a business decision -- by flying in on Friday and taking his physical on Saturday.

And now, with the season set to begin, Donald is there.

The perennial Pro Bowler, who has 28 sacks in three years, is set to make $1.8 million this year and $6.9 million in 2018 on his fifth-year option. Had he not shown up this week, his other likely option would've been to holdout until November, to make sure his contract won't toll to 2018. With Donald present, all the pieces are in place for a big-time deal and satisifaction for both sides. Time will tell if they can make it happen.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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