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How an Aaron Donald contract extension might look

Aaron Donald

The hint of Aaron Donald retiring certainly scared the Los Angeles Rams, with the organization fearful of how big of a setback this team would suffer if its All-Pro defensive tackle walked away. With the future Hall of Famer now ready to run it back, it’s time for the Super Bowl champions to reward their best player.

Donald didn’t win Super Bowl MVP, but there’s no doubt Los Angeles doesn’t reach the Super Bowl or hoist the Lombardi Trophy without him. When the game was on the line, McVay predicted exactly what was going to happen on 4th down. “Aaron Donald’s gonna make a play.” Seconds later, the greatest defensive player of his generation took Joe Burrow down and secured a Super Bowl ring.

  • Aaron Donald contract: $$14.25 million yearly cash (2022), $19 million (2023), $19 million (2024)

The 30-year-old easily could have walked away on top, ending his legendary career on a high note. Whether he used the threat of retirement for contract leverage or serious consideration was given, it needs to result in a contract extension.

Let’s take a look at how a potential contract extension might look

Projecting the Aaron Donald contract extension

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams Championship Parade
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt is the highest-paid player in the NFL outside of the quarterbacks. It’s certainly a title he deserved in 2021, playing at an All-Pro level and earning that four-year, $112 million contract.

Watt is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, but he isn’t Donald. Both are elite players with outstanding production, but one is simply making a bigger impact and a more unique position.

PressuresHurriesQB hitsSacksTFLsPFF Pass RushESPN PR Win Rate
Aaron Donald86612512.51992.726%
T.J. Watt62253922.52190.624%

In terms of pass-rush effectiveness, Donald is the better player. Pro Football Focus graded him significantly higher as a pass rusher, he generated significantly more hurries and his pass-rush win rate is higher.

Keep in mind, Donald is doing this mostly from the interior defensive line. Opponents routinely double-team him with two offensive linemen and then mix in a running back to sometimes be a third blocker. Yet, as the data shows every year, it rarely matters.

Another thing to keep in mind is his complete dominance over a long period of time. According to Pro Football Focus, Donald leads the NFL in pressures (502) and the second-closest player (Cameron Jordan, 356) isn’t remotely close.

Voted first-team All-Pro seven times, Donald has already won Defensive Player of the Year three times and arguably deserves the honor every season. Now, it’s time for the Rams to set a new market with his contract.

  • Projected Aaron Donald contract: 3 years, $91.5 million

A non-quarterback has never broken the $30-million AAV threshold, it’s time for that to change. Donald is in the conversation for being recognized as the best defensive player in NFL history. A player of that caliber deserves a record-breaking contract and we expect that to happen this offseason.

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