Aaron Donald has done it all. He has three Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight Pro Bowls, seven All-Pros, an All-Decade honor, 98 career sacks, and now a Super Bowl ring.
The Rams defensive lineman has joined Lawrence Taylor in the conversation for the greatest defensive player in history, and Donald will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after his retirement.
Donald just turned 31, but he said he could walk away after eight seasons without playing another down and be satisfied.
While appearing on Brandon Marshall’s I Am Athlete podcast, Donald said four times he is “at peace” with his career.
Donald is not participating in the team’s voluntary organized team activities as he seeks a new contract, having outplayed the six-year, $125 million deal he signed in 2018.
“It ain’t about the money, but it’s a business at the end of the day,” Donald said. “That’s what you’ve got to see For me, it’s about winning. I don’t want to play football if I can’t win anyway, so I feel like if I got a real opportunity to win another Super Bowl, then it makes sense to play. But again, it’s still a business. We’ve got to handle the business side of things, and if that wasn’t to get handled then, you know, it is what it is type of situation. I’ll be fine regardless.
“But me talking about retirement, that was happening way before we won a Super Bowl. I’ve been saying that since I got into the league that I was going to play eight years and be done. That’s just what I’ve been saying. It just came out and then everybody think that, ‘Oh, he said if he wins a Super Bowl he’s going to retire.’ Nah, I got teammates, coaches, my family who know about this. I said I’m going to play eight years, and I’m going to probably be done playing football. But winning a Super Bowl you get kind of a little addicted to it. I ain’t going to lie. I want to feel that again. That experience is like none other. If I was to play, it’s just to win another Super Bowl, but at the end of the day, it’s still a business and it got to make sense to me and my family.”
Donald is scheduled to make $14.25 million in 2022, which ranks 102nd in the NFL, per spotrac.com. His avearge of $22.5 million ranks 27th.
Donald admits the sides “probably [will] figure it out,” but he said he won’t be mad if they don’t.
“I don’t need to play football to be fine. I’m fine,” Donald said. “I was blessed to play this game, to make the money I made, the accomplishments I made in eight years is, like, I’m complete. If I can win another one, that’s great. But if not, I’m at peace.”
Donald told NBC Sports studio analyst Rodney Harrison before Super Bowl LVI that he would consider retiring if the Rams won. It sounds as if Donald will consider retiring if he doesn’t get a new deal, and the Rams surely will do what they have to do to convince him to keep playing.
Money, after all, talks.