Revised contract opens door for Aaron Donald making his way closer to home in 2024

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The new contract signed Monday by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald essentially guarantees that he’ll spend the next two seasons with the Rams. After that, things could get interesting.

The structure allows Donald to play for L.A. through 2023, at a total payout of $65 million. At that point, he can retire with no financial consequences of any kind. And if he retires following the 2023 season, the next move could be to try to unretire with a new team.

At that point, Donald could try to leverage a trade to a location closer to his hometown of Pittsburgh. If the Rams will get no further services from him either way, they could secure some amount of value in exchange for swapping the final season of his deal to another franchise.

For Donald, an annual commitment that entails spending so much time so far from home was one of the reasons he considered retiring after the 2021 season. After 2023, his mindset could be very simple. Happily retire from football altogether or keep playing in a city far closer to the city where he’d prefer to spend as much time as possible.

It could be Pittsburgh. It could be Cleveland. It could be Cincinnati. It could be Baltimore. Really, any of the AFC North teams would put him far closer to home, if he decides to keep playing after 2023. The Rams would have to decide whether to take what they can get for the final year of Donald’s deal and let him finish his career elsewhere, or the Rams can watch him retire without ever playing for another team. And get nothing in return.

If he’s determined to end his career closer to home, at that point Donald simply needs to play one more year for the Rams (at $30 million) and then, given the unique structure of his new deal, become a free agent after the 2024 season.

It’s two years away, but those two years will fly by — as two years usually do. That will be one of the top stories of the 2024 offseason. Will Donald retire from the Rams and then hope to be traded to another team? Or will he spend one more year in L.A. before dictating his football future?

His age and health will be a factor. He’s 31. Will the wear and tear of constantly double- and triple-teaming begin to slow him down, this year or next? Will he still be dominant, and will he be willing to continue his career if he isn’t as great as he’s always been?

Regardless, today’s outcome hardly binds him to the Rams for the long haul. The clock is ticking. Two years minimum, three years maximum. And, possibly, two years in L.A. followed by one or two or more in a city on the other side of the country.

However it plays out, he’ll make $32.5 million per year, on average, for the next two seasons of football. After the 2023 season ends, the next chapter of his career could very well begin.

20 responses to “Revised contract opens door for Aaron Donald making his way closer to home in 2024

  1. Watt Hayward and Donald. Steelers could drop 8 every play and have the best pass rush in the league.

    Not going to happen but interesting to think about.

  2. One thing I feel no one can argue is his agent earned his commission on that deal. No extra years added just a straight up $60 million plus raise. Teams very, VERY rarely do that for anybody even the elite QB’s.

  3. Aaron Donald plays as hard as anyone. He’s as good as anyone. If he retires after 2 years, he’s giving up 43 million, before taxes.

    I think he’s a 1 team guy, be it 2 or 3 years, it depends on what kind of inheritance he wants to leave behind.

    Is that 3rd year worth it? Only he will know. What I do know is, he’s a 1st ballot HOF’r and thus I can’t see that last year with another team. 2 and out or 3 and out. No other teams.

  4. I think what we’re all forgetting is that Aaron Donald played college football at Pittsburgh, and he is now playing for the rams

  5. Seriously, why would you play in a minor league market like P’burgh when you have the golden lights of LA? Dude aint stupid, keep balling,keep getting paid. Do your deals and keep winning.

  6. I can finally say that he is totally worth the contract..2 main reasons big contracts don’t work players get complacent and don’t bring it week in week out and lastly injury prone. Those 2 reasons never get in Aaron’s way!

  7. Ya, go from a team that’s a yearly contender to the AFC North… He’ll retire a Ram and go back to live his life.

  8. Well if he wants to be close to Pittsburgh, why would you not include Buffalo on that list? It’s closer to Pittsburgh than both Cincy and Baltimore
    Miles from Pitt:
    Cle: 134
    Buf: 215
    Bal: 247
    Cin: 288

  9. Just play out his contract and retire as a Ram. A one team career is becoming rare these days.

  10. There’s not a chance that he plays for another team. He’ll retire a Ram when he’s ready then he can live wherever he wants.

  11. Even if he only plays two more years for the Rams that would be fantastic. If his plan was to play only eight years these two or three extra years gives us a good chance at another ring. The offense is loaded but without Donald the defense would be mediocre at best. So for all you haters you’re gonna have to put up with us for at least the next couple years. Haha!

  12. The Donald/LA Rams dynamic is so weird to me. It seems like for the last five years he’s been constantly telling the team he doesn’t want to play for them anymore. And he literally just turned 31.

  13. I don’t recall this “playing close to your hometown” narrative with any other players, except for Tom Brady and the 49ers. Not sure Aaron Donald is begging to live close to Pennsylvania.

  14. Who in their right mind would choose to live in damp, dusty, and cold Western PA over beautiful, warm, and sunny SoCal? Especially when you have a lot of money? Nobody, that’s who.

  15. I guess with the amount of money he will make, right now he doesn’t have to think too much long term. But the smartest athletes realize their best business opportunities after retirement are in the city where they played, and they start to seed these while still playing.

  16. Why would you trade retiring in California with all the money you could ask for in exchange for any of those cities?

  17. Donald paired with that Baltimore secondary is scary.
    Don’t want to even think about that! Booo!

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