One of the best players in the NFL may take his holdout to a rare extreme

NFL fans might have to wait longer than expected before they see Aaron Donald take the field this season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Donald’s holdout for a new contract could last well into the 2017 season.

Appearing on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” Tuesday morning, Schefter said that there was a “realistic chance” that Donald could miss the first half of the season before he reports to the Rams.

“Now they’re in Nowhere Land, and Aaron Donald is going to miss the start of the regular season.” Schefter said. “He’s going to miss multiple games into the season. And I think there’s every chance that he misses about a half a season.”

DonaldĀ is signed to make about $US3.2 million this season between salary and bonuses, but has proven to be one of the best defensive players in the league and now wants to be paid like it. For perspective, there are currently ten defensive tackles across the NFL expected to make $US10 million or more this year.

The Rams reportedly had a valuable offer for Donald on the table before the start of training camp, but Donald’s representation insisted it was not a fair price for the pro bowler, and decided to keep at negotiations. Now, both the Rams and Donald himself are in a tough spot.

Donald currently has next year left on his deal, a team option that will be picked up in 2018, and then potentially two years of the Rams placing the franchise tag on Donald after that, meaning that if the team wants to keep him in Los Angeles at the rate that they see fit, they can do so for the next four years. Meanwhile, the Rams want their best player on the field for them, and it looks as thought Donald has no intention of doing that until a new deal is reached.

We’ve seen players miss timeĀ over contract disputes before. Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks missed the first two games of the 2015 season before coming back even though a new deal was never signed. And it was well into August before Joey Bosa and the Chargers came to an agreement on his rookie contract, but the eventual deal worked out for both parties after Bosa won defensive rookie of the year. That said, a player of Donald’s calibre missing half the season would be unprecedented.

Schefter added that the holdout would likely have to end at eight games, after which Donald’s contract could be “tolled,” meaning his current deal would be extended by a year.

You can watch Schefter’s comments below.

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