Aaron Donald is neither retiring nor holding out.
One of the best defensive players in NFL history has a new contract. The deal replaces the final three years of Donald’s prior arrangement with the team. Other contracts, the salary cap, and Donald’s ongoing stellar play made the existing deal obsolete.
The contract, per a source with knowledge of the terms, has no new years. Instead, the existing deal was torn up, and it was replaced by a new contract.
He’ll get $95 million over the next three years. He’s getting, a literally, a $40 million raise.
The contract includes a pair of voidable years. The void kicks in on the final day of the 2024 league year. Which means that the Rams won’t be able to tag him for 2025. Instead, he’ll become a free agent if he wants to keep playing.
He gets $65 million over the next two years, with no offset on guarantees. It’s structured to let him retire after 2023 with no financial penalty. If decides to play in 2024, he’ll get another $30 million.
Here’s the breakdown of the deal:
1. Signing bonus: $25 million.
2. 2022 base salary: $1.5 million, fully guaranteed.
3. 2022 roster bonus: $5 million, fully guaranteed.
4. 2023 roster bonus: $15 million, fully guaranteed and due on second day of 2023 league year.
5. 2023 base salary: $13.5 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed as of third day of 2023 league year.
6. 2024 roster bonus: $5 million, guaranteed for injury at signing. Fully guaranteed on third day of 2023 league year. With no forfeiture language.
7. 2024 base salary: $30 million, fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2024 league year. It would be paid with $20 million as an option bonus and $10 million as base salary, for cap purposes.
The guarantees have no offset language.
The $95 million in case flow over three years surpasses the $92.3 million paid to Josh Allen and dwarfs the $63 million paid to Patrick Mahomes in the first three years of their respective contracts. It’s the biggest contract ever given to a non-quarterback, and only 11 quarterbacks rank ahead of him in average salary.
He’s the first non-quarterback to pass the $30 million per year threshold.
And it was all done with no new years. And the ability to retire after two years. And the ability, if he so chooses, to sign with any team he wants in 2025.