Since the NFL Combine earlier this year, there has been plenty of discussion surrounding a possible contract extension for defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Donald participated in the early portions of the Rams offseason program before departing the voluntary OTAs in May. General manager Les Snead confirmed it was a contract-related absence for Donald, who then returned to the facility for Los Angles' mandatory minicamp in June.
But with veterans slated to report to training camp at UC Irvine on Friday, there is some question as to whether Donald will be among the arrivals.
"Vets report tomorrow so I don't want to speculate on that," Snead said in a press conference on Thursday. "I'm not certain. Veterans report tomorrow so we'll not know until then."
"I think, like I said, these are delicate situations," Snead added. "I think you have to respect Aaron and his side in that business move. And it's really, at that point, all about respect. And yes, we would love for him to be here, hope he's here, [he] would help if he's here — but if he decides not to, it's a thing you have to respect from their group."
Donald has appeared in each of the first 48 games of his career, starting the last 44 for the franchise. He's recorded 28.0 sacks and led the league with 31 quarterback hits in 2016 — five more than No. 2 Khalil Mack. Donald came close to breaking the franchise record of sacks for a defensive tackle with 11.0 in 2015, and has been a AP first team All-Pro for the last two years.
As they have both done previously, Snead and head coach Sean McVay said Thursday they would keep the specifics of the contract discussions in-house. But Snead did characterize the dialogue as open.
"I think we're working to find the resolution," Snead said. "I don't want to get into optimistic or pessimistic because it's a complicated situation, and [we] respect Aaron and his group. We're working to try to find a win-win."
As one of the most productive defensive players in the league, the team would certainly feel an impact should Donald not report. If that does end up being the case, McVay said the team will have to react accordingly.
"I think, certainly, Aaron's a great player. He's one of the best players in this league, especially at his position," McVay said. "But it's one of those deals with the NFL — whether it's guys not reporting or injuries for whatever matter — guys have to be able to step up. And we feel very confident in our defensive depth.
"We're optimistic that Aaron will be here and be a part of what we're trying to do this coming year," McVay continued. "But I think the defensive line is a spot we feel good about, and we'll be ready to adjust accordingly if that's something that does come up."