I'm a person who likes to think outside of the box. A lot of times it comes to nothing, but it was that kind of thought process that got me thinking about whether or not the Dallas Cowboys could work out a trade with the Los Angeles Rams for their disgruntled defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
As things stand right now, Aaron Donald and the LA Rams are at a stalemate in their contracts talks and it's starting to look as if the All-Pro DT could carry his holdout into the season. It's probably not what either party wants to happen, but Donald is using the only leverage he has right now to try to get a contract extension.
This entire situation may be even more concerning to the Rams organization because Aaron Donald is arguably the best player they currently have on the roster. But, they don't really know yet how he fits into Wade Phillips new 3-4 defensive scheme since he has missed the entire off-season so far.
You see, Aaron Donald is really better suited to play in a 4-3 defensive scheme as an under tackle or 3-technique, where he can use his speed and agility to his advantage. He is a little undersized (6'1″, 280) to be in every down defensive tackle in Phillips' defensive scheme, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the crafty defensive coordinator has a special way in mind to utilize Donald's unique skill set. But, that still remains unknown.
So, with Aaron Donald being unhappy with his current contract situation and not really knowing how he fits into the new 3-4 defensive scheme the Rams have gone to this season, could this workout to the Cowboys advantage?
The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need to upgrade their pass rush this season. All of Cowboys Nation knows what their holdovers are capable of, but there is some unknown about the young talent they have. Regardless, Aaron Donald would be a tremendous addition and would instantly upgrade the entire defensive line.
Can you imagine having Aaron Donald and Maliek Collins playing next to each other and the havoc they would inflict to the middle of opposing offensive lines? It would be absolutely insane and would make it extremely difficult for QBs to get comfortable on the pocket. And it would also create more favorable matchups for whichever defensive ends are on the field at the time.
Now that I have the majority of you drooling or on Cloud 9 thinking about the pairing of Donald and Collins on the same defensive line, let's come back down to earth to look at how realistic this possible acquisition would be. Brace yourselves, because it's not pretty, but it is possibly doable.
Aaron Donald is wanting to be paid like one of the best DTs in the NFL. That would mean he could be looking at a contract similar to Ndamukong Suh, who signed a six-year, $114 million contract with $60 million guaranteed with the Miami Dolphins back in 2015. Unfortunately for Donald, that's an insane amount guaranteed of money for a DT and it's just silly to think any team can or will offer that kind of contract.
Realistically, Aaron Donald is probably looking at a contract that would pay him at least $20 million a year and somewhere in the ballpark of $45-$50 million guaranteed. That's a big chunk of change for an undersized DT, but that's likely the going rate for someone who is as disruptive and young as Donald.
Okay, this is where reality sets in. The Dallas Cowboys can't afford that kind of contract right now if they plan on re-signing there All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin. That would indicate that Aaron Donald is currently out of contention to even be considered as a trade candidate. But, it is possibly doable to sign both Martin and trade/sign Aaron Donald to a contract extension.
There's no doubt it would take some creative finagling for all of this to happen, but like I said I'm an outside the box thinker.
First, the Cowboys would have to workout a trade with the Rams and that would likely require at least a couple first-round draft picks. Then, they would have to create some cap relief this season to fit Donald under the salary cap. Finally, they would have to convince Donald that they will take care of him next off-season. They could do this by dumping some bad contracts (Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton) and moving around money.
That's just a brief example of all the things that would have to be done in order to trade and extend Aaron Donald's contract to make him a Dallas Cowboy. There is much more involved, but it gives you an idea. It's highly unlikely and probably impossible this will ever happen, but it's definitely fun to think about.
Aaron Donald is an outstanding player and one of the best in the NFL at disrupting and sacking the QB. In just three short seasons in the NFL, he has amazingly amassed 28 QB sacks. That's an average of about nine a season as an interior defensive lineman. There are simply no words how impressive that is and how much it would improve the Cowboys defense.
Of course, this is probably just a dream and will likely never become reality. But, if Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys think it could be pulled off, I would absolutely be on board with everything it would take to put a star on Donald's helmet.