Rumors of Aaron Donald’s early retirement have been floating for the last couple of years, but the future Hall of Fame defensive tackle has remained in place with the Los Angeles Rams and says he will continue to be here for 2023. But is this Donald’s last season with the Rams, with or without retirement?
ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio said that he would be shocked if Donald was traded this year, but that he sees it as AD’s final season in Los Angeles. Noting that Donald probably wants to get traded to a team near his hometown of Pittsburgh before closing out his historic career.
Trading Donald before June 1 this year creates massive salary cap complications: $41 million in dead money, plus another $15 million against the salary cap. It’s impossible for Snead to trade Donald before the draft.
However, what if Aaron Donald becomes a midseason trade block candidate in the event that the Rams see themselves out of the playoff picture and think they could get back a 2024 first round pick? Trading Donald midseason would save a good portion of his $13.5 million base salary, money that L.A. could use for other areas, but of course the big plan there would be to get the 2024 draft picks.
But if the Rams trade AD in 2024 and he decides not to retire, the team would save $5.6 million against the salary cap with $28.5 million left in dead money. They would also be saving $13.3 million against the cap in 2025.
Two players who cost way too much to trade in 2023 are Donald and Matthew Stafford. Jalen Ramsey rumors will continue to circulate until news breaks, and Cooper Kupp carries $3.4 million in savings if a team wants to sacrifice a ransom in draft picks, of course. Trading Allen Robinson would be complicated because no team will trade for him, and trading Joe Noteboom is a possibility because of the scarcity of left tackles.
Donald should be on the Rams in 2023. After that, as always, his future is unclear.