Los Angeles — All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald reported to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, ending his four-month holdout without getting a new contract.
Donald passed his physical when he reported to the Rams’ training complex in Thousand Oaks, but the three-time Pro Bowl selection will not play in the season opener at the Coliseum against Indianapolis on Sunday. Coach Sean McVay ruled him out for the opener Friday.
Donald stayed away from the Rams starting in May, holding out through offseason team activities, training camp and the entire preseason while attempting to get a lucrative new contract. The Rams agreed that Donald deserved a pay raise after just three standout seasons, and they held months of civil negotiations with the star’s representatives.
The sides couldn’t reach a deal, but they intend to continue talks even with Donald back in uniform, the Rams announced.
Donald will be on the Rams’ active roster Sunday despite not playing. The franchise is expected to receive a roster exemption from the NFL that will allow them to pay Donald without cutting a player from their 53-man roster before Monday.
Donald is scheduled to make $1.8 million this year and $6.9 million in 2018 under the terms of his rookie deal. Even the Rams agree that the rookie scale contract isn’t reflective of Donald’s status as one of the NFL’s most effective players at any position.
Donald is seeking a contract that would make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. By reporting this week, he avoided any chance of preseason injury, and he also won’t miss any game checks from the Rams, who appear determined to stay on Donald’s good side by not fining him or taking any other punitive actions.
Donald is among the top defensive players in the sport, recording 28 sacks in three seasons and earning a reputation as both an elite pass-rusher and run-stopper. He was the AP’s defensive rookie of the year as a first-round pick in St. Louis in 2014, and the 6-foot dynamo has only improved.
Donald missed the Rams’ entire training camp under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who is eager to plug Donald into the center of his 3-4 defense. Donald’s teammates said he was staying active and training back home in Pittsburgh, but they expect him to need a few weeks to get into game shape.
The Rams host Washington next weekend, and McVay has said Donald will play whenever he is able to contribute, even if it isn’t on every snap.
Tanzel Smart, a rookie sixth-round pick out of Tulane, is expected to start in Donald’s place Sunday against the Colts.
Janikowski on IR
The Raiders placed longtime kicker Sebastian Janikowski on injured reserve with a sore back and promoted Giorgio Tavecchio to the active roster.
The team made the move a day before the season opener at Tennessee. The Raiders had signed Tavecchio on Friday as insurance if Janikowski wasn’t healed and brought him to Tennessee.
Tavecchio has spent time in training camp with the Raiders the past four seasons but has never kicked in a regular-season game. He will replace Janikowski, who is the franchise’s career leader in games played with 268 and points with 1,799.
Janikowski joined the Raiders as a surprise first-round pick in 2000 and is one of the few remaining ties to late owner Al Davis.
Bears, Hicks reach deal
Defensive end Akiem Hicks and the Bears have agreed to a four-year contract extension through the 2021 season.
The team announced the agreement on Saturday. Agent Drew Rosenhaus said it’s a $48 million deal with $30 million guaranteed, confirming an ESPN report.
Hicks signed with Chicago last year after spending his first four seasons with New Orleans and New England. He was one of the Bears’ best performers on defense last season, starting 16 games and setting career highs with seven sacks and three pass breakups.
Hicks has 16.5 sacks and 33 tackles for loss in 77 games — 49 starts.
The Bears are coming off a 3-13 season and last-place finish in the NFC North. They open against defending NFC champion Atlanta on Sunday.
Dolphins start long stay in L.A.
The Dolphins evacuated South Florida before the arrival of Hurricane Irma and will practice in Oxnard, Calif., next week to prepare for their delayed start of the season.
Team owner Stephen Ross flew players, coaches, traveling staff and their families to Los Angeles on Friday as the hurricane approached Florida.
Other players who had already left the state in advance of Irma are also arriving in Los Angeles.
The Dolphins will have a team meeting Tuesday and will practice beginning Wednesday at the Dallas Cowboys’ complex in Oxnard.