The Rams both rewarded a player with three years left on his deal and did so without adding any additional years to the contract. While two void years are present in Aaron Donald‘s reworked pact, via Albert Breer of SI.com, the future Hall of Fame defensive tackle can still hit free agency in 2025.
More sweeteners are present in Donald’s groundbreaking three-year, $95MM accord. The Rams included a no-trade clause as well, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Only a handful of players hold no-trade clauses, which force teams to send a player to an approved destination. This impacted the Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson trades earlier this year.
With the guaranteed money ($65MM; $46.5MM fully guaranteed) included in the deal’s first two seasons, the Rams are tied to Donald through at least 2023. Ahead of the 2024 league year, the parties can reassess the situation. A $30MM package — $10MM in base salary, $20MM via option bonus — becomes guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2024 league year. Money was not the only reason Donald considered retirement. Spending much of the year in Los Angeles and away from his hometown (Pittsburgh) factored into the uncertainty as well, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes.
Donald, 31, spends extensive time in Pittsburgh during the offseason. The prospect of playing closer to home could become relevant in the future, and Donald’s no-trade clause would allow him to direct a move to a team that plays in or near his hometown. The prospect of a player seeking to leave Los Angeles for a less glamorous city is interesting, though we are a ways away from this becoming relevant.
Monday’s agreement will almost certainly ensure Donald plays his age-31 and age-32 seasons with the Rams. While the league’s only active seven-time All-Pro may not be on the level he currently is by 2024, Donald has no notable injury history (zero injury-related absences in eight seasons) and has stacked all seven All-Pro honors back-to-back. His 2014 debut, which still produced Defensive Rookie of the Year acclaim, represents Donald’s lone non-All-Pro campaign. If Donald wishes to keep playing in 2024, he will almost certainly carry considerable value.
His value bolstered somewhat by playing alongside Donald during last season’s second half, Von Miller secured a six-year, $120MM Bills deal ($51MM guaranteed) ahead of his age-33 season. Donald mentioned late last month he long ago set eight seasons as a potential retirement benchmark. Monday’s news likely moved that to 10. More seasons obviously stand to further Donald’s case as the greatest defensive player in NFL history.