Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald Accuser Retracts Assault Allegations

Aaron Donald is off the hook. Following reports from earlier this week that the star defensive lineman was facing assault allegations, the victim’s attorney told a Pittsburgh television station that his client, De’Vincent Spriggs, mistook his attacker(s) for Donald (via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry). Spriggs (via his attorney) released an apology to the Defensive Player of the Year.

Yesterday, Donald’s attorney vehemently denied the assault claims, noting that Spriggs swung a bottle at Donald before other individuals stepped in. The attorney added that they have five witness accounts that would corroborate that story, and video footage showed that Donald ultimately helped pull people away from the victim.

“Aaron actually runs over to [Spriggs’] aid and starts pulling people off of this guy,” White said. “He’s trying to get these kids off Spriggs. He gets at least two or three people off of Spriggs, and at that point in time, somebody grabs Aaron and says, ‘This is not a good situation, let’s get the heck out of here.'”

Spriggs’ attorney initially said that his client accidentally bumped into Donald inside a nightclub, leading to an argument. Donald reportedly confronted Spriggs and began punching and kicking him outside the venue, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Mick Stinelli. Spriggs, who admitted to throwing a bottle of alcohol at some point during the proceedings, required hospitalization. He suffered a broken eye socket, a broken nose, a concussion, and required 16 stitches. The initial reports indicated that Spriggs intended to press charges against the superstar Rams defensive lineman.

While the Rams and the NFL will presumably do their own investigations, this revelation would seemingly hush any whispers of punishment for the lineman. The six-time All-Pro has missed just two games in his seven seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Aaron Donald Facing Assault Allegation

A man filed a police report accusing Aaron Donald of committing assault outside a bar in Pittsburgh, KDTV reports. The alleged incident occurred in the morning hours of April 11.

The accuser, DeVincent Spriggs, intends to press charges against the superstar Rams defensive lineman, whom Spriggs alleges attacked him after the two were asked to leave a bar on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Police have not issued a charge against Donald, a Pittsburgh native.

Spriggs’ attorney said his client accidentally bumped into Donald inside the nightclub. This led to an argument and both being asked to leave the club, with Spriggs’ attorney then indicating Donald confronted Spriggs and began punching and kicking him outside the venue, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Mick Stinelli. Spriggs, who admits to throwing a bottle of alcohol at some point during the proceedings, required hospitalization. He suffered a broken eye socket, a broken nose, a concussion and required 16 stitches.

Neither Donald, 29, nor Spriggs, 26, are named in the police report. This does not appear to have progressed to the point a possible Donald suspension would be in play, but the Rams are monitoring the situation. The six-time All-Pro has missed just two games in his seven seasons; both came because of a 2017 holdout.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More Fallout From Matthew Stafford Trade

It’s been a week since the Rams and Lions completed the Matthew Stafford trade, but the fallout from that deal is ongoing. Here’s the latest:

  • We previously heard that the Panthers offered their No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft, plus a later pick, for Stafford. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), that later selection was a fifth-rounder, and Carolina also included Teddy Bridgewater in the proposal, so the Lions would at least have had a veteran signal-caller to take Stafford’s place while they groomed a younger QB. Plus, Detroit would have had the No. 7 and No. 8 overall picks in the draft, so it would have had a terrific chance to land a top collegiate passer and another elite prospect, or at least enough ammo to trade up for a top QB prospect.
  • What’s more, Bridgewater’s contract is much less onerous than that of Jared Goff, who ended up going to the Lions in the swap. But as Peter Schrager of the NFL Network tweets, the Lions didn’t just take on Goff’s contract in order to squeeze more draft picks out of the Rams. They actually wanted Goff and believe he can regain the form he displayed in the 2017-18 seasons, which is a key factor in evaluating Detroit’s return.
  • When negotiations with the Rams commenced, though, the Lions were interested in another high-profile LA player. As Schefter reports in a separate tweet, Detroit first requested DT Aaron Donald, a request that the Rams summarily dismissed. Donald just landed his third Defensive Player of the Year award, and he obviously would have gone a long way towards the Lions’ much-needed defensive rebuild.
  • Stafford’s presence is attracting free agents to the Rams, as Schefter writes. Already, players have reached out to Stafford to express their interest in teaming up with him in Los Angeles, and Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones — who is eligible for free agency — is one such player. However, the Rams are projected to be well over the new salary cap of $180.5MM, so it’s unclear how active they will be in the free agent market.

Lions Negotiating With Domata Peko

Free agent Domata Peko told TMZ Sports that he met with the Lions last week. The defensive tackle added that he “had a nice visit” in Detroit and that his agent is “trying to work some stuff out” for a contract. 

Peko also indicated that he would be interested in joining the Rams, though it’s not clear if that interest is being reciprocated.

I would like to be with Aaron Donald, man,” Peko says … “Hell yeah! That would be dope.”

Peko spent the first eleven years of his career with the Bengals before joining the Broncos on a two-year, $7.5MM deal in 2017. Over the past two seasons, Peko has only missed two games, racking up 44 tackles (eight for loss) during that time frame. In 2018, Pro Football Focus ranked Peko as the No. 39 interior defender among 112 qualifiers.

Peko wouldn’t necessarily start for the Lions, but he could be a solid rotational piece for the team’s defensive front. He’d also give the team some extra firepower as Trey Flowers continues to rehab from shoulder surgery and Damon Harrison stays away from the club amidst his contract dispute.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.