The Los Angeles Rams signed defensive tackle Aaron Donald to a two-year, $60m extensions earlier this week.
In a move that is sure to top sports news for the rest of the offseason, Donald’s new contract makes him the most expensive non-quarterback in the National Football League. Donald publicly flirted with the idea of retiring from the game throughout the offseason. But also remained adamant that he felt he could work out a deal with the team, and he was proven right.
The reigning Super Bowl champion Rams now head into the new season with their three-time Defensive Player of the Year back in the middle of their defensive front. Making them an instant contender once again.
Bringing Aaron Donald Back
The Rams reworked Donald’s contract to give him a $40m raise over the last three years of his deal, bringing the overall value of his new and improved deal to $95m over the final three years.
“It’s a big deal,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday in a SiriusXM town hall interview. “And he’s earned it. Means so much to me, to our organization. I think the respect that he’s garnered around this league from guys that have done it at such a high level. What he’s accomplished through his eight years is unparalleled.”
Another caveat in Donald’s deal, negotiated by agent Todd France, is that. He may retire after the 2023 season or return for an additional $35m guaranteed after playing two years with $60m guaranteed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Donald will also enjoy the protection of a no-trade clause. Meaning that he would have to approve any deals to send him elsewhere.
Donald worried fans as recently as last week by saying that he was “at peace” with retirement if a new deal could not come into fruition; McVay understood why he made the comments but said that the new deal was “something that you felt good about.”
“The things that you see day in and day out— the way that he works. The consistency at which he works. How he affects and influences the rest of our team and really even me as a coach and the rest of our coaching staff. Everything— you’re checking all the boxes for what you want for a Ram,” said McVay. “He’s a special guy.”
Run it Back Rams
The Rams head into the 2022 NFL season with the fourth-best odds of capturing the Lombardi Trophy and defending their title. They will have to traverse a crowded NFC West division. Headlined by the electrifying Arizona Cardinals and tough-nosed San Francisco 49ers.
LA will also be without veteran pass-rusher Von Miller. Who signed a long-term deal with the Buffalo Bills in the offseason. But did manage to obtain the services of all-time great middle-linebacker Bobby Wagner. He, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey will give LA star power at every level of the defense. And make them an unimpeachable unit.
Donald himself, however, will always be the key; an eight-year pro. He has made seven first-team All-Pro lists and eight Pro Bowls. Before finally getting the monkey off his back and winning a Super Bowl in February. Donald was also influential in that game. Coming up with two sacks and pressuring Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on a decisive failed fourth-down attempt with 43 seconds left on the clock.
The former Pittsburgh Panther has 98 sacks in his professional career, including 12.5 in 2021; that was his sixth season with 10+ sacks, the second-most by an interior lineman. Trailing only 2021 Hall of Fame inductee John Randle.
McVay credited Rams owner Stan Kroenke with getting the deal done and putting his team back in championship contention.
“Mr. Kroenke knows how important it is to really be able to take care of your foundational guys that have done an outstanding job,” McVay said. “It’s a big deal.”