Aaron Donald breaks the bank in L.A.

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Three transcendent players signed new contracts this week. Only one got a truly transcendent deal. And he’s the one who chose to withhold his services.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who stayed away for all of the 2017 training camp and preseason and held out again this year, has a contract that doesn’t simply nudge the bar higher. It shoves it several levels up.

Here’s the full breakdown of the deal that sets a record that may not soon be broken.

1. Signing bonus: $40 million.

2. 2018 base salary: $892,000, fully guaranteed at signing with no offset.

3. 2019 base salary: $9.108 million, fully guaranteed at signing with no offset.

4. 2020 base salary: $17 million, guaranteed for injury at signing, and fully guaranteed in March of 2019, with no offset.

5. 2021 base salary: $19.892 million, guaranteed for injury at signing, and fully guaranteed in March of 2020, with no offset for $10 million of the total amount.

6. 2022 base salary: $9.25 million, non-guaranteed.

7. 2022 roster bonus: $5 million, due second day of league year.

8. 2023 base salary: $14 million, non-guaranteed.

9. 2023 roster bonus: $5 million, due second day of league year.

10. 2024 base salary: $16.75 million, non-guaranteed.

11. 2024 roster bonus: $5 million, due second day of league year.

Now for a little analysis and some extra facts.

First, the $40 million signing bonus is more than any non-quarterback ever has gotten.

Second, Donald will make $50 million during the first two years of the deal, all of it fully guaranteed at signing, with no offset.

Third, by March 2019, Donald will have $67 million fully guaranteed, with no offset. Given what they’ll be paying him the next two years and the cap hit resulting from cutting him by then, the chances of the Rams cutting him before the next $17 million becomes fully guaranteed as slim and none.

Fourth, by March 2020, Donald will have $86.892 million fully guaranteed, $76.892 million of which will be exempt from offset. Again, given what he’ll make in 2018 and 2019, the chances of the Rams dumping Donald after only two years are remote.

Fifth, the new-money average is $22.5 million, and the total average at signing is $20.2 million.

Sixth, and perhaps most importantly, Donald would have made roughly $40 million over the next three years under the last year of his rookie deal and a pair of franchise tags. He’ll exceed that by $27 million, an amazing feat — especially in light of the position he plays.

50 responses to “Aaron Donald breaks the bank in L.A.

  1. Donald would have made roughly $40 million over the next three years under the last year of his rookie deal and a pair of franchise tags. He’ll exceed that by $27 million, an amazing feat — especially in light of the position he plays.

    ————-

    Why did the Rams do this? How does this benefit them, other than making the player happy?

  2. These megadeals are making a mockery of the intent of the hard salary cap. Teams are using the piggy bank of “signing bonuses” (and others) to get around the cap. This was NOT what the league intended when they instated the cap. What kind of “parity” does this serve? Doling out piles of Monopoly money to these dudes is an insult!

  3. Rams have mortgaged their future, setting themselves back possibly by a decade. Once this season falls flat, the roosters will come home to roost. It will all be for not and will habe learned the same lesson that Washington team learned after Dan Snyder took over the team: money doesn’t buy you a super bowl in the NFL.

    Rams just paid 135 million for 60 tackles and 8 to 10 sacks. Can I get a LOL?

  4. “Three transcendent players signed new contracts this week.”
    Actually, four. Geno Atkins is every bit as disruptive as Donald (although three years older), and he signed for four years and $65 million, which makes PFT’s premise about the power of a holdout even stronger.

  5. Best defensive player. 88 tackles for loss,4 x pro bowl,3x all pro,defensive rookie of the year,defensive player of the year,one of 4 players with at least 8 sacks per season.

  6. While some people will freak out about what the Rams is paying Donald. Seeing these type of contract makes me happy for the players. No NFL fan goes to a game, spends money on sport package, or plays fantasy sports because of the team’s owner. But While the CEO is pocketing huge chunks of money, some fans will get mad at players. Well, you fans can complain and whine, while Donald, Beckham, Rodger etc laugh their butts to the bank.

    Congrats Donald. Next year, I expect Leveon to break the Bank.

  7. Michael Saphiere says:
    August 31, 2018 at 1:33 pm
    How can the Rams afford all these players under the cap.
    __________________________________________________

    One reason only: Their franchise QB is on his cheap rookie deal for at least the next 2 seasons. After that….. BOOM.

    Now you understand why things are different with the Raiders and Mack. Carr jsut signed his mega-deal, he’s hitting the cap around $25M per.

  8. My question is, why are so many of you salty about football players finally getting paid? Football is hands down the most dangerous major sport so what’s wrong with these guys getting paid accordingly?

  9. And the onslaught begins of comments such as “this will blow the Rams cap space” – “no huge DLine salary has ever worked out – “the Rams can’t afford any other players”.

    We have a staggering amount commenters who know more about building teams and managing the cap than professional GMs and salary cap experts do.

  10. Geno Atkins – 4 years, 65.3 million ($16.3 m average)

    6 Pro Bowls, 2x 1st team All-Pro, 3x 1st team Pro Football Focus
    8.8 sacks per 16 games played (since rookie season when he barely played)

    Aaron Donald – 6 years, 135 million ($22.5 m average)

    4 Pro Bowls, 3x 1st team All-Pro, 4x 1st team Pro Football Focus
    10.1 sacks per 16 games played

    ———

    Now I’m not going to say Atkins > Donald, but Atkins IS a future Hall of Famer and it’s not THAT big of a difference. Did the Bengals get a steal, or did the Rams get taken to the bank?

  11. cardinealsfan20 says:
    August 31, 2018 at 1:44 pm
    And the onslaught begins of comments such as “this will blow the Rams cap space” – “no huge DLine salary has ever worked out – “the Rams can’t afford any other players”.

    We have a staggering amount commenters who know more about building teams and managing the cap than professional GMs and salary cap experts do.

    =================================

    Looking at the results of some teams performances I think some of the commentators on here couldn’t do much worse.

  12. In three years he’ll be complaining that he’s making less than $10M and want to renegotiate his contract.

  13. I think this was a bad contract for the Rams.
    He’s 27.5, how much longer will he be elite, as opposed to very good.
    50MM for 2 years, 67MM over 3 years.
    The team paid full price, despite having him this year and two franchise tags.
    They paid a large premium over that.
    And his 4th and 5th years given his age (31, 32) will probably be fair market value for a player who is good but no longer great.

    It’s like splitting a pie and one side gets 95% and the other gets 5%.

  14. The team with NO DEPTH now officially is cash strapped. Good luck. One year wonder. Flash in the pan.

  15. Good for Donald. Get that money. The losers are the Rams and their fans. They have a 2 year window before they’ll have to play Goff $30m+ a season. After paying Goff, Gurley, and Donald the majority of their salary cap, all the other good players that want to get paid will leave and they’ll be a 4 win team.

  16. Donald and suh are gonna be stupid together and anyone that disagrees simply doesn’t inderstand the game. NOTHING more disruptive than two stud DT’s

  17. ripwarrior says:
    August 31, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Has a large contract for a D-lineman ever panned out? Suh, Haynesworth, Watt has always been hurt. I can’t think of one.

    ———————————————————–

    Fletcher Cox got paid $100 million and just won the Super Bowl…

  18. Folks talk about Goff being cheap and allowing this cap hit; however, look at the Donald cap hit the year Goff’s new contract will be due. The Rams are fine this year and maybe next, but it ain’t gonna be pretty in two years.

  19. This will be a 3 year deal. After the guaranteed first 3 years are up, they’ll dump him as they’ll have to pay their QB by then and won’t be able to pay both of them. Might even only be with the team for 2 years as they’ll have to trade him because they won’t be able to afford to give Goff a new contract and pay Donald in that 3rd year.

    Donald’s a great player, no doubt, but nobody outside of the QB position is worth this much. A defensive player at any position doesn’t have anywhere near the effect on a team/game as a QB has.

  20. How do people not get that just because “they could have franchised him next year” doesn’t mean Donald would have played? He had leverage, too. He could have been tagged, sat out until week 10, gotten his year of service and the higher franchise tag the next year, and they would be in the same stalemate next year or the year after. You play to win the game, Herm. Not having by far your best player on the field is not helping win games. Now he is there and can give the Rams the best chance of winning it all before they have to pay Goff. All part of Snead’s master plan.

  21. This will turn around and bite them in the butt. When has obscenely overpaying a DT ever worked out in a team’s favor?

  22. The people predicting gloom and doom do realize that the salary cap goes up every year, don’t you? Sure you do, lol. Maybe the Rams should not pay any of their good players and get back to those 7-9 days under Fisher. That was so much more fun apparently. They just got a huge salary off the books in Quinn this off-season and have reallocated funds to their new studs. That Cooks contract is shaky, but everything else sounds about right to me. Pay great players while you’re in your window. Otherwise, why are you playing for? To penny pinch? Croenke owns Wal-mart. I think he’s got it.

  23. niyidelano says:
    August 31, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    While some people will freak out about what the Rams is paying Donald. Seeing these type of contract makes me happy for the players.

    ====================

    The “players”? Or the 1% of players that get deals anywhere close to this, taking enormous parts of the pie from all the other players?

    Because that’s the real impact of a contract like this one – concentrating a huge part of the wealth for one person while other players will wind up cut, stuck in low-salary purgatory, or stalling out on getting any pay raises for years, all due to one guy’s refusal to play until he “gets his”.

  24. Boy, these Rams are the most win-nowiest team ever. They are putting everything and then some into Super Bowl or bust.

    Too bad they’re about the 4th-best team in the conference and will be a salary-cap disaster in a couple years.

  25. Looks like a lot of the following will be somewhere else next year.

    Saffold, Jamon Brown, Cornelius Lucas, Suh, Ethan Westbrook, Dominique Easley, Ryan Davis, Matt Longacre, Ramik Wilson, Bryce Hager, LaMarcus Joyner, Sam Shields, Troy hill, Isaiah Johnson, plus some no names.

    Then in 2020

    Pharoh Cooper, Tyler Higbee, Andre Withworth (though he’s old, still starting LT), John Sullivan, Michael Brockers, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Greg Zuerlein.

    Also people forget in the hype the Rams lost two very big pieces of the Rams defense people have come to be wary of these past few years. Robert Quinn, and Alec Ogletree.

  26. Florio, would you please write a quick article about what “guaranteed” means? Because fans think that “guaranteed” means “guaranteed,” but it doesn’t. In fact, $36M of AD’s $87M of “guaranteed” money is, as everyone should know, “guaranteed for injury.” Or in the words of Rudy Guiliani, “Guaranteed isn’t guaranteed.” Thanks in advance.

  27. Aaron Donald breaking the bank.

    You know what that means in Hollywood.

    The man is gonna be breaking some beautiful ladies backs. Not in the Ray rice though.

  28. the Rams have absolutely no flexibility now if either Goff or Donald gets hurt or even have an off year;

    they have no ability to fortify their bench with quality backups if and when any starters get injured, which was the indispensable key to the Eagles winning the Super Bowl;

    smart teams will keep their defence on the field much as possible, make Donald have to beat them with his wallet and Goff have to come in the game down one or two scores;

    there are at least three teams in the NFC capable of doing just that—Philadelphia, NO and Minnesota (so long as they keep Cook healthy);

    the Rams think they’ve found a way to cheat the salary cap just like the 49ers, Cowboys and Giants did when the cap was first implemented;

    they are one broken or twisted knee away from learning the same bitter lesson those three teams did;

  29. I laugh when people say that this will put the Rams in “cap Hell” in a year. Here is a list of their key players who are signed for at least 3 years:

    Goff, Gurley, Cooks, Woods, Kupp, Everett, Havenstein, Donald, Barron, Johnson, Robey-Coleman, Ebukam, Hekker

    Signed for 2 more years:

    Whitworth, Sullivan, Higbee, Talib, Peters, Zuerlein, Cooper

    This isn’t a one and done roster by any means.

  30. man, a $40M signing bonus. that changes your financial life forever.

    and i don’t blame the Rams – if you’ve got the best defensive player in the game still on the front half of his prime – you pay market to keep him.

  31. All that for a guy who missed all of training camp and won’t be game ready for weeks. Can’t wait until he gets hurt.

  32. niyidelano ,

    And the only players doing that to rosters are QBs. I think everyone agrees that Aaron Donald is one of the two or three best defensive players in football, and he’s done it for a while now. The problem you’re mixing up with guys like him getting paid is that contract Kirk Cousins signed this off-season or that that any mid-tier QB has signed over the past few. If anyone is getting upset that Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Donald are getting paid, stop watching. Get upset that mediocre QBs are getting overpaid everywhere, and it’s often out of wack with the salary cap, which this is not. Even with this contract, Donald fits among the highest paid at his position requisite with his pay. Just look at the comments here predicting $30 mil for Goff. Does anyone think he’s going to ever be worth that with how he plays, even with his giant improvement last year, but if he’s decent the next few years, that will be the mid-tier for QBs by then. That’s what and only what you should be railing against, not this.

  33. You may as well just take the first 3 years and throw away the last 3 years of the contract because there’s no way these guys don’t ask for a new contract within 3 years. The market is always being reset and they want top dollar. And they’ll get it.

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