Since entering the NFL as a first-round pick back in 2014, Aaron Donald has been one of the best football players on the planet. He absolutely dominated on the defensive line for the then St. Louis Rams in his first two seasons, taking his game to a completely new level when the team relocated to Los Angeles this past season.
All said, Donald has recorded 28 sacks from the defensive tackle position in his three NFL seasons. He’s also up there among the game’s best from the perspective of those who are tasked with analyzing tape.
Aaron Donald generated pressure once every 6.1 pass rushes, the best figure of any interior defender.
— PFF (@PFF) February 7, 2017
Now, entering his fourth season, it appears that the Rams are willing to give Donald a lucrative long-term extension at some point in the near future.
Les Snead says Aaron Donald extension "coming" at some point. "He deserves a raise"
— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) March 2, 2017
The bluntness we saw from Rams GM Les Snead here is refreshing. He recognizes the talent Donald possesses and the impact he’s made since entering the league. It’s also a clear indication Los Angeles plans to pay their star defensive tackle on a scale we’ve never seen before.
Ndamukong Suh of the Miami Dolphins is currently the highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the NFL at $19 million annually. He signed a six-year, $114.4 million deal with nearly $60 million guaranteed back in 2015. Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox comes in second at $17.1 million annually after he signed a six-year, $102.6 million deal last June.
In reality, Donald’s new deal should set a completely different market. For the fourth consecutive year, the NFL salary cap has increased by $10-plus million. It’s a new normal, one that will set new markets for pretty much every position around the league over the next couple years.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Donald get a deal north of $20 million annually with $70-plus million guaranteed. Yes, we’re talking a value that once represented franchise quarterback money.