How Aaron Donald's Historic $95M Contract Impacts Rams' Salary Cap

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 6, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals running with the ball is pursued by Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Aaron Donald is staying put with the Los Angeles Rams.

And he's making a lot of money to do so.

The Rams announced Monday that he will be back on a new deal, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the reworked contract will pay the defensive tackle $95 million through 2024. It represents a $40 million raise over the next three seasons and makes the future Hall of Famer the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted this contract replaces his existing one and features a pair of voidable years that kick in at the end of the 2024 league year. That means Los Angeles would not be able to place the tag on him in 2025 should he choose to keep playing.

According to Spotrac, the Rams' adjusted salary-cap total was $201.1 million prior to the news of the new contract.

Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus noted the reigning champions actually cleared $2.75 million in 2022 cap space by reworking Donald's deal.

That means it's a win on the salary-cap front for the upcoming campaign and a massive win on the football front for Los Angeles' chances at repeating as Super Bowl champions.

After all, Donald is one of the best defensive players in NFL history. His resume includes the Lombardi Trophy, eight Pro Bowl nods, seven All-Pro selections, three Defensive Player of the Year awards and the 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year.

He turned 31 years old in May but showed few signs of slowing down in 2021 with 84 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four passes defended while appearing in all 17 games. He has appeared in all but two games since he was the No. 13 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft.

Paying anyone this amount of money carries an element of risk for any NFL team, but Donald has been durable his entire career and remains one of the most productive players in the league well after what would be considered some players' prime.

Throw in the fact that he is the face of the franchise coming off a Super Bowl title, and it comes as no surprise the Rams did what they could to keep him in the middle of their defense.