He hinted at a retirement, saying he would be “at peace” if he doesn’t play for the Super Bowl champion Rams in 2022.
But there’s no way the Rams would be looking to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat in the group without star defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
On Monday, two days after his wedding, coach Sean McVay had more to celebrate when the Rams agreed to a deal with Donald that will make the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history, one person said with knowledge of the situation.
Terms of the deal weren’t available, but NFL.com reported Donald was guaranteed $65 million over the next two seasons and $95 million through 2024.
So the Rams will try, as Donald said during a Super Bowl victory parade, to “run back” with their star pass rusher who has a new million-dollar infusion in his pocket.
“Locked up again to get us another ring,” Donald said in a video released by the Rams. “Why not? At SoFi Stadium, you get chills just thinking about it. Let’s get to work.”
Donald, 31, has been absent from organized team activities for the past two months but is expected to attend a mandatory mini-camp beginning Tuesday in Thousand Oaks.
Rams players unsurprisingly rejoiced at the news that Donald had agreed to a contract with the Rams.
“Yes indeed!” The Rams’ new linebacker Bobby Wagner tweeted.
Donald, a seven-time All-Pro, returns to lead a defense that now includes Wagner, a six-time All-Pro, and three-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
This isn’t the first time Donald has been the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
In 2018, he signed a six-year, $135 million deal that included $50 million in guarantees, according to overthecap.com. Donald’s status at the top of the defensive player payroll lasted a day.
Then-Chicago Bears edge-rusher Khalil Mack quickly eclipsed that deal with a contract that included $60 million in guarantees. Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher TJ Watt and Chargers endman Joey Bosa have since signed deals that include guarantees of $80 million and $78 million, respectively, according to overthecap.com.
Donald and his agents watched as he surpassed his contract with annual performances that will almost certainly make him a first-choice player in the Hall of Fame when his career is over.
Donald, the 13th pick in the 2014 draft, has amassed 98 sacks, including 20½ in the 2018 season. Last season, he had 12½ sacks on a defense that also included edge rusher Leonard Floyd and linebacker after a midseason trade Owned by Miller.
Donald helped lead the Rams to a Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, his late pressure on quarterback Joe Burrow securing the win and starting a celebration at SoFi Stadium.
Before the Super Bowl kicked off, a report surfaced that Donald was considering retiring. After the game, Donald did not dispute the report and said he would take his time to enjoy the win. Last week, during an appearance on the I Am Athlete podcast, Donald said he would be “at peace” if he didn’t play in 2022.
But the Rams had made new contracts for quarterback Matthew Stafford and Donald their top offseason priorities. In March, Stafford signed a four-year extension that could be worth up to $160 million.
It was a foregone conclusion that they would find a way to reward Donald, who was due to carry a $26.75 million salary cap in 2022, according to overthecap.com.
“Things are going in the right direction,” McVay said last week.
Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said McVay and general manager Les Snead will receive contract extensions.
But working out the terms of a new deal for star receiver Cooper Kupp would be the next task.
Last season, Kupp led the NFL in receptions, yards and touchdown catches. He was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year, then caught two touchdown passes in the Super Bowl, including the game winner, and was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
Kupp signed an extension ahead of the 2020 season. According to overthecap.com, he is said to have a salary cap of $18.7 million.
Kupp attended off-season training and is expected to attend minicamp.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-06-06/rams-restructure-extend-aaron-donalds-contract Aaron Donald and Rams agree on record NFL contract for non-QB