Aaron Donald Agrees to Lucrative Extension with Rams
It’s been quite a week for new contracts in the NFL. Earlier this week, we saw both Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Rodgers become the highest-paid players in the NFL at their respective positions. Now, we have a new player setting the bar for salary at his position.
On Friday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Los Angeles Rams and star defensive lineman Aaron Donald have finally come to terms on a new contract. Per Schefter, the pact is a 6-year deal worth up to $135 million, including $87 million in guaranteed cash. It is the most lucrative deal for a defensive player at any position in the history of the NFL, and it will keep Donald in Tinseltown through the 2024 campaign.
Donald hasn’t appeared in a single practice or preseason game for the Rams this season as a part of his contract holdout. ESPN says that despite having missed all practices, Donald will be ready to hit the field when the Rams open their season on Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders on September 10.
Donald, who was entering the final season of his rookie contract that would have paid him $6.9 million, was the Rams’ first-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Pittsburgh. Since then, he has gone on to become one of the best players in all of football.
In his 4 NFL seasons, Donald has racked up All-Pro honors 3 times already and he has been named to the Pro Bowl every year. He was named as the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in his first season, and he has recorded 39 sacks and 9 forced fumbles as a pro.
Donald’s return means the Rams will have one of the most talented on-paper defenses intact when the regular season begins. Donald will join steady veteran Michael Brockers and highly-touted newcomer Ndamukong Suh as a part of a potentially ridiculous defensive line for L.A.
This has been a long time coming. Donald held out of last season’s training camp, as well. No deal was struck, obviously, so Donald returned to the field after missing just Week 1.
Negotiations between the two sides began after the 2016 season, which was the Rams’ first season back in Los Angeles after Donald began his career with 2 years in St. Louis. Donald chose not to attend the team’s voluntary minicamp that year, but he did show up for the mandatory workouts in order to avoid having to pay any fines. After missing training camp, he reported to the team’s practice facility the day before the season-opener and would ultimately be activated to the 53-man roster before Week 2’s contest.
Missing training camp had no negative effect on Donald’s impact on the field. He would go on to rack up 11 sacks in his fourth season along with 5 forced fumbles across 14 games. He earned Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time in helping the Rams to a surprising playoff berth.
As was the case last offseason, Donald elected against showing up for voluntary workouts but did attend the mandatory camp in order to avoid a fine.
With Donald having put pen to paper on a new deal, all eyes will now focus on the situation between Khalil Mack and the Raiders. Like Donald, Mack is considered to be one of the very best defensive players in the league. It’s hard to imagine Mack ultimately getting a deal more lucrative than Donald’s, but the Donald deal should be able to serve as something of a guidepost for the two parties to use in negotiations.
We will have to wait and see whether both players will hit the field when their teams square off in Week 1.
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