HomeSportsNFLAaron Donald opens up about retirement plans

Aaron Donald opens up about retirement plans

by Nick Geddes
Aaron Donald
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald contemplated retirement following the Super Bowl LVI victory before opting to return for the 2022 season. Donald returned after receiving a historic pay raise, inking a three-year, $95 million deal. His $31.66 million annual salary is the highest for a defensive player in NFL history.

Coming off a year in which the Rams took a step back, finishing 5-12, the soon to be 32-year-old was faced with another decision entering the offseason. It ended up not being a difficult one for Donald, who said Wednesday he didn’t really consider retirement this offseason.

“Not really, honestly,” Donald said, via Pro Football Talk. “You never want to end your career the way it was last year. So, it never really crossed my mind. I was just trying to do everything I could to get myself healthy to be here today.”

The three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year suited up in just 11 games this past season, suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 13 which effectively ended his season. He recorded a career-low 5.0 sacks to go along with 49 tackles (27 solo).

Having undergone surgery, Donald said he feels 100% as the Rams’ offseason program begins.

“It was different,” said Donald, who previously had never missed a game because of injury in nine NFL seasons, via ESPN. “But I’m at 100% now, so that’s all that matters. Feeling good, able to do everything I need to do to get myself to where I need to be.”

Aaron Donald taking on new role in 2023

Donald will have to take on an even larger leadership role this upcoming season. The Rams’ defense has seen multiple veterans exit out the door, including cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Miami Dolphins) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (Seattle Seahawks). Donald admitted he’s going to need to be more vocal playing alongside younger players.

“At times, I feel like I’m going to need to be [more vocal],” Donald said. “Obviously, you don’t have a Bobby Wagner or Jalen to do it. But, again, you’ve got a guy like Ernest who’s going to step up and play that leadership role well, you’ve got [Jordan] Fuller out there. So, there’s guys that are young, but on this team, they’re no longer young. It’s time to step up and be a leader as well.

“So, you’ve just got to trust that those guys are going to be there to speak up and motivate me, too. We all need it – no matter how long you’ve been playing this game, or how much success you’ve had in it. We all need somebody to push you at times. If I’m slacking, I want them to let me know I’m slacking so I can pick it up and I can get better. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about holding each other accountable and pushing each other.”