Aaron Donald

Khalil Mack Fallout: Suitors, Raiders, Donald

While the Bears won the 11th-hour Khalil Mack sweepstakes, several other teams are now known to have inquired or submitted bids. After reports of interest from the Jets, Browns and 49ers, Albert Breer of SI.com adds the Packers and Bills contacted the Raiders about their disgruntled defensive end. However, neither team was close to agreeing to the terms the Bears did. Only the Jets were on the Bears’ level in terms of compensation, Breer notes, and the Jets are not believed to have offered two first-round picks. A team was reported to have offered a first- and third-round pick for Mack; it’s possible that was the Jets. (Although, that report last week may have been about a possible first Bears offer rather than the Jets’.) The Packers hovered as the team Las Vegas pegged as the favorites to land Mack, but they will stick with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry on the edge. Buffalo has Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy slotted as its starting edge defenders, with trade-block occupant Shaq Lawson positioned as a depth piece.

Here’s more from one of this century’s biggest NFL transactions:

  • The Raiders submitted an offer to Mack’s agent in February, and it was swiftly rejected, Breer notes. Jon Gruden said Sunday the Raiders were not in the Bears’ ballpark on numbers, and Breer adds once the Aaron Donald $22.5MM-per-year deal surfaced, the Raiders knew Mack’s asking price was going to become more reasonable. For weeks, the Raiders gave hard no’s when approached with Mack trade inquiries. However, teams noticed the Raiders’ tone changed regarding Mack late last week, with Breer adding they were much more open to deals. It’s logical to assume the Donald agreement catalyzed this process.
  • Chicago brass monitored the Mack situation all summer, with Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy having long meetings about the prospect of acquiring the 2016 defensive player of the year last week, Breer reports.
  • As for why the Raiders didn’t try to hold their line about Mack playing on his fifth-year option salary? Jon Gruden referenced Kirk Cousins‘ situation with his brother Jay‘s Redskins as part of his reasoning for why he felt Mack had to go. “We have waited. We waited and waited and the (Week 1) Rams game was looming,” Gruden said, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). “Our feeling was that he was not going to report anytime soon. And … I saw the Redskins go through it with Kirk Cousins. … It’s a long process. You can wait it out; you can franchise him; you can force him to play. But we made a decision and we’re going to stand by it.” However, the Cousins situation dragged into the passer’s sixth season. Mack has yet to play his fifth. The Raiders had the franchise tag to use in 2019 and 2020, but it appears Mack’s threat about sitting out games prompted them to take the Bears’ unique offer while it was on the table.
  • Mack’s six-year, $141MM Bears deal will feature $73.3MM coming to the new Bears weapon within the first three years, Breer notes. He’ll make $41MM overall in 2018. Donald’s three-year haul on his six-year, $135MM Rams pact will be $67MM.

Latest On Khalil Mack Trade

One of this decade’s biggest blockbuster NFL trades came together in part because of something another team accomplished Friday.

Aaron Donald‘s $22.5MM-AAV Rams extension helped set up the Raiders’ choice to trade Khalil Mack to the Bears, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link).

The Raiders spent recent weeks and months pondering what Mack’s contract would ultimately cost them at least that, with Rapoport reporting Mack was not going to take anything less than what Donald received. Once the Donald deal occurred, the Raiders “certainly” knew they weren’t going to be able to authorize that kind of contract, per Rapoport. No progress had occurred on this front for months.

Teams then began contacting the Raiders about Mack again, despite previously being told he was not available. Upon receiving a Bears offer that included “at least” two first-rounders, the Raiders believed they “had to” accept it, Rapoport reports.

A two-first-rounder offer occurred within the past 24 hours, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (video link). Another offer involving a first- and third-round pick, and one including a player, occurred earlier this week. But once teams heard the Raiders received a proposal including two first-rounders, other teams dropped out, per Pelissero.

Mack’s fifth-year option salary of $13MM-plus is now off the books, and the Bears have a lead pass rusher to anchor a Leonard Floyd-fronted supporting cast. As for the Raiders, their prized 2014 draft class splinters. They agreed to a then-record deal with Derek Carr and signed Gabe Jackson for eight figures per year in June 2017, but because of Mack’s fifth-year option, they waited on an extension for the 2016 defensive player of the year. And they ultimately decided they were better off with the draft picks and cap space than paying Mack.

Rams, Aaron Donald Agree To Extension

Finally, it’s a done deal. On Friday, the Rams signed defensive tackle Aaron Donald to a historic six-year extension that will keep him in place through the 2024 season. Donald signed the contract Friday afternoon.

The new deal is worth $135MM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter), and includes $87MM in rolling guarantees. Donald’s signing bonus is worth a whopping $40MM (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) and he’ll receive $50MM fully guaranteed (Twitter link via Albert Breer of The MMQB). The deal represents the richest defensive deal in NFL history and ties Donald to Los Angeles for the next seven years.

Donald stayed away from the Rams this summer in order to boost his leverage in talks, creating doubt about whether he’d be in uniform for the start of the season. With the deal, the Rams have assured that he’ll be in the lineup for the team’s Monday night opener against the Raiders.

Donald has been one of the league’s most fearsome defenders since entering the league as the No. 13 overall pick in 2014. Over the years, he has racked up numerous accolades and a shocking number of sacks from the interior. The Associated Press named Donald its Defensive Rookie of the Year in ’14 and, last year, he earned his first AP Defensive Player of the Year award.

In 14 games last year, Donald amassed 11 sacks, five fourced fumbles, and led the league with 91 quarterback pressures, which is perhaps the best metric by which to judge a pass rusher. The Rams made a number of splashy moves on defense this offseason, but this massive new deal with Donald may be the biggest of them all.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Rumors: Donald, Wright, Cards

The Rams seem to be preparing their fans for a contract coronation soon, continuing to declare they’re near the goal line of the Aaron Donald negotiations. After Sean McVay made comments about the Donald deal being close to completed, Rams GM Les Snead confirmed this two-offseason saga is nearing completion. He added, via Pro Football Talk, nothing’s been agreed to just yet. After Donald reported into the regular season and won defensive player of the year acclaim despite being in a new defense, the fifth-year player’s late arrival probably won’t mean much to the Rams. But the results of this process will be plenty important for Khalil Mack and others seeking to raise a defensive salary ceiling that’s remained stagnant for two years as quarterbacks’ wages have skyrocketed.

Over the past year alone, the top of the QB market has climbed by 24 percent, with Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweeting Donald or Mack will have to sign for a $23.66MM deal to match that kind of increase. Von Miller‘s $19MM-AAV agreement — signed in July 2016, when the highest-paid quarterback wasn’t yet making $25MM per year — remains the top defender contract.

More from the NFC West, moving to another longtime defensive starter, here:

  • A Seahawks defense that already jettisoned four Super Bowl-era starters this offseason may be without another in Week 1. K.J. Wright underwent surgery on Monday and probably won’t be ready when the Seahawks face the Broncos next Sunday, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. Pete Carroll categorized this procedure as a “cleanup” but said a couple of weeks would be the most optimistic timeline. Shaquem Griffin‘s first start, then, figures to occur sooner than expected. Condotta confirms the fifth-round rookie will start if Wright can’t go.
  • Jonathan Cooper went from signing a near-$5MM contract with the 49ers this spring to possibly being a post-preseason casualty. A slow recovery from knee surgery has Cooper on the 49ers’ bubble, Corry notes. Cutting Cooper, who is behind Mike Person and Joshua Garnett at right guard, would cost the team $4.48MM in dead money.
  • Two notable names appear to be competing for the final Cardinals receiver spot. Former Cowboys rotational cog Brice Butler signed a two-year Cardinals deal but is not a lock to make the team. He and one-time Browns second-round pick Greg Little, who hasn’t played since 2014, may be vying for one job, with Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com writing he wouldn’t be surprised if Little beats out Butler. He has Butler making the team ahead of Little, however. A Butler cut would cost the Cards $500K in dead money.

Finish Line In Sight For Rams, Aaron Donald?

Sean McVay seems confident he’ll have his best player available soon, continuing the momentum that’s been building as August’s progressed.

Addressing the Aaron Donald situation, the second-year Rams HC said (via ESPN.com’s Lindsay Thiry, on Twitter), “We are very optimistic. Seriously, we are.” McVay said a lot has changed the past few days on this front and believes the finish line is finally in sight, per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic (on Twitter).

The Rams are prepared to finalize this deal soon, with the end of this week being a reasonable target date, Bonsignore tweets. He adds the drama no longer centers around the prospect of the Rams refusing to meet Donald’s demands. Instead, the suspense here will be this contract’s numbers and how far in front of other NFL defenders they will be.

As Khalil Mack‘s talks with the Raiders remain at a standstill, Donald steam’s picked up to the point he appears likely to be with the Rams when they face the Raiders in Week 1. He missed the first two games last season because of a holdout but still earned defensive player of the year acclaim. Nothing’s emerged indicating a Mack deal is imminent, but it’s possible the Donald saga concluding will help bridge the gap between the 2016 defensive player of the year and his team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Rams, Aaron Donald

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the Rams and Aaron Donald are still on the verge of completing an extension. Despite the lack of updates in recent days, the two sides are still on course for a deal that will make Donald the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of PFT

[RELATED: Texans Sign Ex-Rams CB Kayvon Webster]

There has been talk of a deal coming together soon, but head coach Sean McVay also recently denied that a deal is around the corner. Despite the misdirection, the deal still seems to be something of an inevitability. Even though the Rams gave their defense the Hollywood treatment this offseason, they recognize Donald’s value and will likely find a way to give him a history-making contract.

When all is said and done, it is expected that Donald’s deal will average about $22MM/year with up to $80MM guaranteed overall. Of course, the overall guarantee is different from the fully guaranteed amount at signing, and that will be a key metric in evaluating the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Notes: Donald, McVay, Havenstein

The Rams and Aaron Donald would like to get an extension done before the start of the season, but that’s there’s no deadline in negotiations, according to head coach Sean McVay.

I don’t think so,” McVay said when asked whether there’s a deadline (via Mike Florio of PFT), “but I think for us ideally you’d like to be able to see a guy get in here a couple weeks before the season starts but in terms of a stern deadline we don’t have that. We’ve been in this situation before. Everybody knows how important Aaron is to us and how much we want to be able to get this thing done. In the meantime we’re appreciative of the guys that are here that are working but to say that there’s a stern deadline I wouldn’t say that but I think there is an ideal time where you’d like to get him in here to get him in football shape and feel confident that he’ll be ready to go and be healthy enough to participate just based on the things we’ve gotten exposed to before that first game.”

There has been talk of a deal coming together soon, but McVay has cautioned that nothing is imminent.

Here’s more out of L.A.:

West Notes: Rams, Donald, Raiders, Penn

The Chiefs gave up on Marcus Peters largely because of his conduct in the locker room. Peters was the source of many headaches in KC, but head coach Sean McVay says the Rams did their homework on the cornerback before trading for him this offseason.

You talk to the people that have been around him, that you really value their opinion, you trust it,” McVay said (via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com). “Got a lot of good things that came back in terms of a guy that loves football, does a lot of really good things for his community.”

The Rams added other bold personalities on defense, including cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but McVay isn’t concerned about how everyone will gel. McVay feels that 71-year-old defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has “more swag” than all of them combined and has the ability to keep them in line.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

West Notes: Rams, Donald, Raiders, Mack

Another day, another report of progress between the Rams and Aaron Donald. The latest positive word comes from Mike Florio of PFT, who hears from a league source that chatter of a deal happening soon is increasing.

Last week, both GM Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay indicated the club is moving in the right direction with the star defensive tackle. If the deal does come together, it’s likely that Donald will become the league’s highest-paid defensive player with a contract that tops Von Miller‘s six-year, $114.6MM contract.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

  • Despite common speculation, the Raiders do not appear to be waiting on the Rams to sign Donald before they lock up Khalil Mack, Florio opines. That theory would make some sense if the Raiders and Mack were actively negotiating, but they haven’t talked since February, so it seems unlikely that they would wait on Donald before starting from square one late in the offseason. The notion of waiting on Donald seems especially unlikely, Florio adds, when considering that Donald waited until the last minute before reporting to the team last season.
  • Seahawks rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin has shown that having just one arm is not an obstacle for him on the field and he appears on course to make the final cut, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com writes.
  • The Chiefs worked out running back Darius Victor on Monday, Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports tweets. Victor appears to have lost out to fellow RB Ray Lawry, who was signed shortly after the audition.

NFC Notes: Donald, Giants, Cash, Lions

The Aaron Donald saga may finally be nearing a conclusion. Rams GM Les Snead indicated earlier this week that team and player were progressing towards a new deal, and head coach Sean McVay echoed those sentiments last night. Per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic (Twitter link), McVay said, “there’s increased dialogue. There’s more…we feel positive about the direction that these things are going. I think there’s a level of urgency that’s being displayed from us.” That probably sounds like music to the ears of Rams fans, who have legitimate championship dreams this season.

Now let’s take a quick look at a few more notes from the NFC:

  • Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets that Giants quarterback Kyle Lauletta is getting reps with the second team today, which is the first time Dunleavy can recall that happening. 2017 third-rounder Davis Webb was said to have a big lead on Lauletta for Big Blue’s backup job coming out of minicamp, but this could be a sign that Lauletta, a 2018 fourth-round pick, is closing the gap. Webb, of course, was selected by New York’s prior regime, while Lauletta has the benefit of being chosen by the team’s new crop of decision-makers.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that Cardinals LB Jeremy Cash sustained a knee injury during last night’s preseason game that is believed to be season-ending. That is a tough blow for the Duke product, who has bounced around a few different teams since entering the league but who had a real chance of cracking Arizona’s 53-man roster this season. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers in March.
  • Good news for 49ers fans, as right guard Joshua Garnett has returned to practice after missing two weeks to deal with his right knee issue, per Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets that Garnett’s primary competitor for San Francisco’s right guard job, Jonathan Cooper, is also on hand, so perhaps the competition can finally begin in earnest. This comes just a week after a report that the 49ers were growing increasingly concerned about Garnett’s knee problems.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press offers his take on the prospects of a few different Lions after the team’s first preseason game several nights ago. He says it is only a matter of time before rookie Kerryon Johnson becomes Detroit’s starting tailback, though Ameer Abdullah also looked good and was the first man up on kick and punt returns. Birkett adds that Jake Rudock‘s rough night, combined with Matt Cassel‘s ties to head coach Matt Patricia, have increased Cassel’s chances of opening the season as the club’s backup QB.
  • The Bears signed running back/return specialist Knile Davis earlier today.