Aaron Donald is one of the few remaining members of the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl team from the 2021 NFL season.
Los Angeles moved on from several key players in cost-cutting moves this past offseason, including the trade of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
At this point, the Rams have to be seen as one of the least-talented teams in the league as evidenced by our most-recent NFL power rankings.
The backdrop here includes rumors from the past several months that Donald might be moved as the Rams’ rebuild process starts to take hold. Just recently, this was brought up as a possibility with a little over a week to go before the opening of the regular season.
It makes perfect sense. At 32 years old, Donald does not fit into the Rams’ long-term future. Meanwhile, the nine-time Pro Bowler and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year might want to conclude his career with a contender. Below, we look at four ideal Aaron Donald trade scenarios from the Rams.
Aaron Donald returns home with the Pittsburgh Steelers
This one seems a bit too obvious. Donald was born in Pittsburgh. He starred for the Pittsburgh Panthers in college. He has roots in the city. He has family in the city. Speculation arose months ago that he might demand a trade to the Steelers.
While Pittsburgh might not be a top-end Super Bowl contender, it has a highly respected head coach in Mike Tomlin and several pieces that could entice Donald. That includes a young offense led by quarterback Kenny Pickett, running back Najee Harris and wide receiver George Pickens.
The Steelers’ defense is expected to be darn good in 2023 with EDGE rusher T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick leading the charge. Adding someone like Donald in the front would be a boon for the Steelers.
Related: Updated NFL trade rumors
Cleveland Browns double down on offensive line
Browns general manager Andrew Berry has exhausted cash and draft picks to help build around Myles Garrett on the defensive line. This past offseason alone, that included signing defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson to a huge contract while acquiring EDGE guy Za’Darius Smith in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.
- Aaron Donald career stats: 237 QB hits, 160 tackles for loss, 103 sacks, 24 forced fumbles
Why would Berry want to stop there? Cleveland’s window of contention is pretty short-term given the Deshaun Watson contract. The Browns know that very well. It’s why they restructured his contract during the spring. It also has the most room under the 2023 NFL salary cap at $31.99 million, making it realistic to take on Donald’s contract.
The idea of teaming Donald up with Garrett, Tomlinson and Smith on the defensive line would create so many mismatches for opposing teams this season. Imagine what new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could do with that.
New York Jets pull off another blockbuster trade
New York is obviously in win-now mode after acquiring future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It has also given him a ton of skill-position talent, including multi-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook. Why not double down and add to one of the best defenses in the NFL?
The idea of teaming Donald up with fellow star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams might be too hard for GM Joe Douglas to pass up on. Think of it this way. The likes of Williams, Donald and Sauce Gardner would make for one of the most-talented trio of defenders in the league.
Dallas Cowboys add Aaron Donald in shocking trade
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones likes to make flashy moves. That came to fruition during the offseason with blockbuster trades for quarterback Trey Lance, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. If Donald is indeed put on the trade block, we fully expect Dallas to come calling.
There’s also a scheme fit under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Donald would slot in next to rookie Mazi Smith on the interior of the defensive line with Demarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons doing their thing out on the edge. It would create one of the best defensive fronts in the entire NFL. With rookie defensive tackle Mazi Smith struggling, there could also be a need here.