Imperial Valley Press

‘Pay the man’: Rams back DT Aaron Donald in latest absence

- BY GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer

THOUSAND OAKS — Aaron Donald is skipping another set of offseason workouts while his contract negotiatio­ns with the Los Angeles Rams drag on into their second year.

The All-Pro defensive tackle’s teammates would like to see this standoff resolved before it has any chance to impact their promising season.

“Hey man, pay the man,” cornerback Marcus Peters said. “You win the MVP? Come on now.”

The NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year was back home in Pittsburgh while the Rams began voluntary organized team activities at their training complex Monday. He also skipped the start of their offseason program in April.

He is missing the first steps in the assembly of a potentiall­y impressive defense. Peters joined the Rams in the offseason along with fellow star cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh — but they haven’t yet teamed up with Donald, who turns 27 on Wednesday.

“Aaron is a vet, man,” Talib said. “He’s going to take care of his own business. What’s his business is his business.”

Donald is due to make $6.89 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract, and the Rams theoretica­lly could keep him for three additional years under a franchise tag. But he has been one of the NFL’s top defensive linemen since his career began in 2014, and the Rams’ front office has claimed it is eager to sign Donald to a longterm contract.

“It’s kind of where it’s been,” coach Sean McVay said of the Rams’ negotiatio­n with Donald. “We’re in constant dialogue and communicat­ion with his representa­tion. It is something that we want to get resolved. As far as a timetable, don’t really have any dates on that. I don’t expect Aaron to be here until we get a resolution to that.”

These negotiatio­ns still appear to be civil and respectful, despite their abnormal length. Donald has expressed little public frustratio­n with the Rams’ reticence to write the check he is seeking, while McVay and general manager Les Snead have scrupulous­ly avoided any public criticism of the tactics that have kept Donald away from his teammates.

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