When is a deadline not a deadline?
When both sides in a negotiation find the artificial cutoff meaningless.
Tuesday marks the reporting "deadline" for Donald to report to camp to accrue a season towards free agency. When he doesn't show up today, he will be defined as a restricted free agent in the offseason.
If the Defensive Player of the Year were tendered at the highest restricted free agent level, some team would gladly pay a first-round pick for Donald's services -- and likely attempt to structure the contract in a way that would make it difficult for L.A. to match. That reality means Donald wouldn't find the restricted nature of his status much different than if he were an unrestricted free agent.
From the team's perspective, knowing other clubs would gladly pay a first-round pick (especially if that pick landed in the back portion of the round) for Donald's skills, the Rams would likely slap him with the franchise tag, negating any restricted/unrestricted nature of his status.
Therefore, we land back in limbo.
Donald remains a holdout with no real end in sight.
"I don't think anything is going to change with that in the near future," coach Sean McVay said Monday, via ESPN's Lindsey Thiry. "I've had a little bit of dialogue with Aaron and we're hopeful that we'll get something done, but I don't think there's any realistic deal to August 7th being a date that changes really anything, but you never know.
"Things remain the same. I'm looking forward to trying to connect with him later on today, and we'll see where we're at."
Rapoport reported Monday not on NFL Network's Total Access that sides remain about as far apart in negotiations as they were last season.
A year ago, Donald reported on Sept. 9, and sat out the first week of action. This season it appears the holdout could linger even longer.
With no looming, hard deadline to spur action before the opening of the season, Donald's unsettled situation will persist.