We might be getting a 30 for 30 about this one day. Apparently, Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald wanted to retire from the NFL and almost did. In fact, it was all said and done. Paperwork was put together. His agents sent it into the Rams’ front office! So, how did this not end up happening? Well, let’s break it down.
Ian Rappaport was the first to break the news and it is quite the story. On May 9, earlier this year, the Rams and Aaron Donald were in a bit of a dance. Trying to secure an extension that would work for all parties and prevent the best defensive tackle in history from leaving for another team.
Well, there are two sides to every argument, negotiation, and relationship. While LA has all the money and a whole lot to offer Donald… well, he’s the best to ever do what he does. His leverage is just as great as millions of dollars. Part of those negotiations was using the ultimate leverage – retirement.
Threaten to retire, go home with your ball, no one wins or loses, but they sure feel like they lost. That letter of intent to retire was addressed to Roger Goodell and sent to the Rams. Except, it never made it to the NFL Commissioner.
It was more than just money that Aaron Donald and his team were after. To be fair, Donald has nothing else to prove. He’s won the awards and accolades, he’s a Super Bowl champion. Negotiations weren’t great in May…but then they started to pick up. Meeting after meeting and soon enough, it felt like there was some common ground for these parties to agree on.
Aaron Donald’s Almost-Retirement
Look, if Aaron Donald did retire, no one at the Rams organization could be mad. They wanted to know if and when they needed to get a special ceremony together in order to honor their franchise player. A true gem and an all-time great. Still, they didn’t send in the retirement letter…and so things kept moving forward.
The timing of the retirement letter, and the decision not to send it were important as well. The salary cap hit that the Rams took earlier this summer was less than half of what it would have been if Donald retired. It saved them more than $10 million.
Who knows what would have happened had he retired. But, tonight – Thursday Night Football is back and the Rams are ready to suit up and play. Among those players in the locker room will be Aaron Donald. Will this be game one on another journey to the Super Bowl?