Aaron Donald returning to the Los Angeles Rams in 2022 is far from a guarantee at this point.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Aaron Donald “has a number” in mind that he’ll accept in order to play football this season.
“Keep in mind that the retirement buzz around Donald — first delivered by NBC’s Rodney Harrison on the Super Bowl pregame broadcast — was always real,” Fowler said, via Rams Wire. “And it’s my understanding that Donald has a number he will play for. If it’s not met, retirement can still go down. Adding years to an already existing three-year pact takes Donald well into his mid-30s, and who knows whether he wants to play that long? But that’s the best way for Los Angeles to stretch out the money for cap purposes.”
Now this all seems like Donald is using retirement as a leverage tool for the Rams to honor him with a new contract that will likely reset the market for defensive players. The two sides have been working on this record-breaking deal, but nothing is imminent. And that’s where things are getting interesting and why retirement is coming up again.
Donald currently has three years remaining on the six-year, $135 million contract he signed with the Los Angeles Rams back in 2018. At the time, that made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, but that record has since been exceeded. Now, the top defensive players are making around $28 million per season, which is above the $22.5 million in AAV that Donald is currently making.
Donald will be 31-years-old at the start of the 2022 season and adding any additional years to his current contract will bring him into his mid-30s. Given that retirement talk has already been buzzing around, it’ll be curious to see if he plays throughout the life of whatever gargantuan deal he’ll eventually put pen to paper on, but tacking on years is an easier way for the Rams to spread out his money to make it more palatable.
Last year’s Super Bowl victory was the cherry on top of what has already been a dominating, Hall of Fame-worthy career for Donald. He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, a seven-time first-team All-Pro, and has been named to the Pro Bowl in every season of his eight-year career. That’s enough to get him into Canton, so if the Rams are unable to pony up with the contract he desires, Donald can rest easy knowing that he’ll be putting a yellow jacket on one day.
That said, L.A. will certainly want to keep him on the field for as long as possible, so they’ll likely be moving heaven and earth to try and hammer out this new deal.