Rumors of Aaron Donald considering an early retirement were started on the morning of the Super Bowl by NBC’s Rodney Harrison and despite Sean McVay shooting those reports down in late March, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler was back at it on Thursday.
Fowler wrote on Thursday that Donald and the Rams have been working on a contract extension that “promises to be record-breaking” but that if the two sides can’t come to an agreement that retirement is on the table.
If it’s not met, retirement can still go down. Adding years to an already existing three-year pact takes Donald well into his mid-30s, and who knows whether he wants to play that long? But that’s the best way for Los Angeles to stretch out the money for cap purposes.
Donald is in a class of his own among all NFL players, not just defensive lineman, and he’s already the highest-paid defensive tackle in the league at $22.5 million per year with $87 million guaranteed. He is signed through 2024, when he will be 33, and has a cap hit of $26.75 million this upcoming season.
If Donald did retire, the Rams would not incur much savings this year, but would recoup $19 million in 2023 and $21.75 million in 2024.
I gave five reasons why Donald would consider an early retirement prior to McVay’s comments that Donald was going to return for another season, and while spending time with his family must be high on that list, it’s hard to ignore what former players and coaches are able to make away from the game these days. The Rams are not just bidding against other NFL players, they’re also bidding against whatever Donald could make after he calls it quits and Tom Brady is reportedly set to make almost $40 million per season in broadcasting when he’s done with playing.
Fowler noted that the team is also working on a contract for Cooper Kupp that would adequately reflect his value to the Rams.