THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay has been asked daily throughout training camp and the preseason about star defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s holdout.
His usual responses range between “no update” to “we’re hopeful something will get done.”
But on Tuesday, McVay’s tone struck a new chord. At times, he sounded as though he was joking, but he also expressed a newfound optimism that with the season opener looming the dispute could be nearing an end.
“Things are heating up,” McVay said when asked if he and Rams executives were considering a trip to visit Donald and his representatives in person. “You might see that sooner than later, you know? It could happen. It’s exciting. We’re very optimistic. Seriously, we are.”
When asked to clarify what he was optimistic about, a trip to visit Donald or a contract resolution, McVay said, “Could be both. Could be both. Let’s put it this way. Maybe it will happen.”
Donald is scheduled to earn $6.9 million in the final season of his five-year rookie contract, but is seeking an extension that would make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history and would rank his salary among quarterbacks.
Donald held out of training camp last year before reporting on the eve of the season opener, without a new deal in place. He was activated in Week 2 and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year as the Rams won the NFC West for the first time since 2003 and made their first playoff appearance in 13 seasons.
After the season, Donald’s holdout resumed. He did not attend the offseason program, including mandatory minicamp, and did not report for training camp.
McVay said that he would like Donald to report by the end of the week so he could acclimate and prepare for the season opener on Sept. 10 against the Oakland Raiders.
If a deal is not in place when the Rams play their preseason finale against the Saints on Thursday, McVay said he and executives would take a detour either to or from New Orleans to visit with Donald.
“We’re going to do everything we can to be proactive. Whether it’s before the game or after being out in New Orleans, whatever we can do to make it work and do our part to demonstrate to Aaron how important it is for us to get him here, be a part of this team,” McVay said. “All jokes aside, there is a level of increased optimism. I’m not really kidding around with that. There are a lot of things that need to get done for it to be finalized, but we’re working in a positive direction. … Aaron: See you soon, buddy.”
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