Bonsignore: Aaron Donald had no choice but to return to Rams

By Vincent Bonsignore, Los Angeles Daily News

From the outset, the Aaron Donald contract holdout seemed a bit dubious. The longer it dragged on through OTAs, training camp and preseason games, the more equivocal it became.

That he finally returned early Saturday morning, just ahead of the Rams season opener Sunday against the Colts with no new deal in hand only adds to the puzzlement.

As in, what was all that for?

We know why hes back, of course. Had he not reported in time for the season opener he stood to lose the $100,000 in salary his weekly game check represented. Donald wont play Sunday, but hell collect his money. It would have been ludicrous for him to play it any other way. A hundred grand is a hundred grand, no matter how entrenched Donald is in his negotiating position or how hurt his pride might be by the Rams not checking off all his contract demand boxes.

The bigger question is, what, exactly is his optimum end game and did he really think holding out all this time was going to deliver his ideal outcome?

Because, I have to tell you, no one in the NFL believed for one second a guy with two years left on his original contract and whos under team control the next four years was going to get all his wishes granted.

That kind of leverage is reserved for players who play out their contracts, earn free agency and peddle their talent across the entire 32-team league.

And lets be frank here. By wishes we mean whatever overall salary number he believes hes worth over the current highest-paid defensive player, what percentage of that number is guaranteed up front and what percentage of that overall number is guaranteed within the first three years or so of the deal.

Donald has his number.

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