Los Angeles Rams Restructure Aaron Donald’s Contract, Make Him Highest-Paid Non-Quarterback in NFL History

by Bryan Fyalkowski

Aaron Donald said last week that he would be “at peace” if he never played again in the NFL. Seems like he is more “at peace” with a $40 million raise.

The 31-year-old, three-time Defensive Player of the Year restructured his contract with the Los Angeles Rams on Monday afternoon. In the final three seasons of his deal, Donald will now earn $95 million. He is the first non-quarterback in league history to make more than $30 million per year.

The deal nets Donald $65 million guaranteed over the next two seasons, and then has a $30 player option for 2024. It is expected that he would make a decision to then retire or return for a final season. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the contract renegotiation also includes a no-trade clause.

Shortly after signing the papers, the Rams’ social media accounts posted a selfie video of Donald in SoFi Stadium saying: “I’m locked back in. Let’s go get us another ring. Why not? Getting chills thinking about it. Let’s go to work.”

Head coach Sean McVay appeared on SiriusXM Radio on Monday night and weighed in on the situation.

“It’s a big deal, and he’s earned it. He truly is one of one in my opinion,” McVay said. “What he’s accomplished through his eight years is unparalleled. So we wanted to be able to find a solution to getting him taken care of, having him continue to lead the way for our team, for our defense.”

Donald made an appearance as a guest at McVay’s wedding on Saturday night, in which the Super Bowl-winning coach had a cake shaped like the Lombardi Trophy.

“We had a feeling it was trending in the right direction when he was at my wedding,” McVay joked in the SiriusXM interview.

What Led to the Record Deal?

As a guest on the “I Am Athlete” podcast – hosted by former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall – Aaron Donald was quite candid.

“It ain’t about the money, but it’s a business at the end of the day,” Donald said. “For me, it’s about winning. I don’t want to play football if I can’t win anyway, so I feel like if I got a real opportunity to win another Super Bowl, then it makes sense to play. But again, it’s still a business. We’ve got to handle the business side of things, and if that wasn’t to get handled. … I’ll be fine regardless.”

With a Super Bowl ring now on his finger, the Pittsburgh native has cemented himself as one of the best defensive players of all time. Not to mention it was Donald’s pass rush late in the fourth quarter that hurried Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow into an incompletion on fourth down and clinched the 23-20 win for Los Angeles.

“Winning a Super Bowl, you get kind of a little addicted to it,” Donald said. “I ain’t going to lie. I want to feel that again. That experience is like none other. If I was to play, it’s just to win another Super Bowl. Once you’re actually in that moment, it’s different. … There’s no other feeling like it.”

I wrote in an article last week that it was a positive sign for Rams fans that Donald was just toying at the idea of retirement – rather than actually doing it. Turned out to be true.

Was it all a ploy to become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history? I doubt it, but maybe. Either way, Los Angeles is a far better team with Aaron Donald anchoring the defense than without his presence in the trenches.