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NFL insider weighs in on potentially historic Aaron Donald contract extension

Matt Johnson

While Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is threatening to retire, many around the NFL think it’s a bluff to increase his power in contract negotiations. If it works out, the future Hall of Famer could be headed towards a record-breaking contract.

Donald will go down as one of the best defensive players in NFL history. After just eight seasons in pro football, the 6-foot-1 defensive lineman is widely considered to be one of the best to ever play his position. Coming off an MVP-caliber performance in the Super Bowl, the 31-year-old is weighing his future in football.

  • Aaron Donald career stats: 226 quarterback hits, 150 tackles for loss, 98 sacks, 23 forced fumbles

Los Angeles needs its superstar back on the field. One of the best NFL defenses in 2022 would take an alarming step backward if the three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner walked away from the game.

In an offseason with player salaries skyrocketing and the NFL salary cap expected to explode in the years ahead, Donald wants to get a deal that reflects his value to the team. Negotiations are ongoing, but there are early estimates for the potential contract value to prove his worth.

On the Yahoo Sports’ You Pod to Win the Game podcast, NFL reporter Charles Robinson estimated Donald’s value at $30 million per season.

“Frankly, if you ask me what’s his value. It’s a four-year, $120 million contact for Aaron Donald. I think he’s a $30 million defensive player.”

Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson on potential Aaron Donald contract

A $30 million annual salary would make Donald the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. Currently, Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt leads the way at $28.002 million. In a league where Ryan Tannehill makes $29.5 million and Tyreek Hill signed a contract with a $30 million AAV, Donald is deserving of setting a new mark on the defensive side.

Related: Aaron Donald ’50-50′ on playing in 2022

The Rams don’t have many options. If the organization doesn’t show a genuine interest in making Donald the highest-paid defender, he can walk away from the NFL. It would be a devastating blow for Los Angeles, wiping out its chances of repeating.

Wanting to avoid that disaster, a new contract should be signed before Week 1. As long as he is healthy and playing, the Rams will be one of the best NFL teams in 2022.