Aaron Donald Comments on Rumors of Rams Contract, Retirement After Super Bowl Win

Erin WalshMay 30, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If Aaron Donald can't agree to terms on a contract with a team he believes can contend for a Super Bowl title in 2022, the veteran defensive tackle told the I Am Athlete podcast on Monday that he will be "at peace" retiring this summer:

"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, and we got to handle the business side of things, and if that wasn't to get handled then, you know, it is what it is type of situation.
"I'll be fine regardless, but me talking about retirement, that was happening way before we won a Super Bowl. I've been saying that since I got into the league I was going to play eight years and be done. That's just what I've been saying. ... If I was to play, it's just to win another Super Bowl, but at the end of the day, it's still a business and it got to make sense to me and my family.
"... I don't need to play football to be fine. ... I was blessed to play this game, to make the money I made, the accomplishments I made in eight years is, like, I'm complete. If I can win another one, that's great. But if not, I'm at peace."

Donald's comments come after ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported earlier this month that the eight-time Pro Bowler was working with the Rams on a "new deal that promises to be record-breaking."

"This is expected to be an extension, repackaging the remaining three years on his deal with a big raise," Fowler wrote. "Top-of-the-market for defensive players is $28 million annually, and Donald will be well above that when this is all said and done. He has been arguably the game's best player for at least a half-decade."

Fowler added that his "understanding" was that Donald "has a number he will play for," and if it's not met, then he'd consider retirement. However, Donald said during his appearance on the I Am Athlete podcast that "it ain't about the money."

Donald is under contract with the Rams for three more seasons and is set to earn $26.8 million in 2022 before his salary drops to $23.5 million in 2023 and 2024, per Spotrac

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt is the NFL's highest-paid defensive player, earning $28 million per year. Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa is the second-highest paid defensive player at $27 million per year. 

Considering Donald has the potential to go down as the most dominant player in NFL history, he deserves to be paid handsomely.

Donald has spent his entire eight-year career with the Rams, earning eight Pro Bowl selections, seven first-team All-Pro nods and three Defensive Player of the Year awards, in addition to being named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014.

The 31-year-old has been arguably the most consistent defensive player in the league since being drafted 13th overall, and he showed no signs of slowing down last season. 

In 17 regular-season games, Donald posted 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, 84 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hits. He was just as good in the playoffs, recording 3.5 sacks, 13 tackles, four tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits en route to a Super Bowl title. 

If Donald retires or fails to re-sign with L.A., the Rams defense shouldn't be nearly as effective in 2022. And considering the franchise is looking for another Super Bowl run, locking up Donald makes all the sense in the world.