Whether the Los Angeles Rams would or would not trade superstar Aaron Donald is first and foremost a decision that has to be made by superstar Aaron Donald. If Donald doesn’t want to be traded, he won’t be traded. He could sooner retire than play for a team that he doesn’t want to play for, it’s as simple as that. It’s not just that Donald has enough money to last many lifetimes, he might also be more valuable as a retired player with countless post-career opportunities than on an NFL salary.
But also if Donald wants to be traded, if he doesn’t want to carry the most inexperienced defense of his career on his back, then that’s what will happen too. The decision isn’t really up to Les Snead, Sean McVay, or the L.A. Rams at all.
It’s Donald’s call. McVay says that despite Donald getting excused absences from mandatory minicamp and essentially sitting out the offseason after the most difficult season of recent memory, that AD will be ready to go at the start of training camp. That’s in two weeks and at that point we’ll have a lot more information about the future of the Rams than we’ve had in the last six months.
Until then, speculation of the Rams demise and subsequent firesale will continue and the name that is requested for almost every other team in the market is Aaron Donald. If it comes to the point where Donald wants to try on a different uniform, the L.A. Rams will have no shortage of bidders and a chance to drive up the price considerably. Just two years ago, the Rams paid the price of a second and a third round pick for Von Miller at a similar stage of his career and that was only for a half-season rental.
Could Donald be worth much more than that?
Jaguars low-ball Rams for Donald
Offer: LT Cam Robinson, 2025 second round pick
The blog Black and Teal wasn’t willing to part with much for their dream acquisition, only offering Cam Robinson (set to serve a four-game suspension and falling out of favor as is) and a 2025 second round pick. Not 2024, mind you. 2025.
In another proposal, Black and Teal considered first round bust K’Lavon Chaisson, plus first and fourth round picks in 2024. Then just a straightforward deal of a first in 2024 and a third in 2025, which is essentially the same as a fourth in 2024...so why? That’s the same as the other offer minus Chaisson.
Browns don’t have 2024 first round pick
A fanbase that comes up often in making requests for Donald is the never-truly-never-say-die fans in Cleveland and they see the future Hall of Fame defensive tackle as the missing piece to a defensive puzzle that includes Myles Garrett on the edge.
But the Browns traded their 2024 first round pick in the package for Deshaun Watson, so their best offer would have to be day two picks next year and then more coming in 2025.
ClutchPoints names four teams, plus Browns
The website ClutchPoints, which I never read except moments like this when I’m searching for relevant articles and yet what is it and who owns it? I have no idea. They mention five teams that could make sense for Donald: Raiders, Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, and Browns.
Do the Raiders actually believe they are contending for the Super Bowl this season? Unless they do, why make a trade for Donald? I can’t see them getting that much better with Jimmy Garoppolo and surviving the difficult AFC West. Las Vegas also lacks cap space, currently ranking 30th in the NFL according to Overthecap.com.
The Giants rank 29th.
The team that has the most space of these five clubs is Philadelphia, plus we know that the Eagles can contend for a Super Bowl this season and GM Howie Roseman likes to make splashy moves. However, the Eagles keep pushing the due payment on the credit card bill into the future and it is difficult to believe that Roseman wants to add Aaron Donald to his tab on top of everyone else.
Similarly, the Dolphins are projected to be $32 million over the cap already for 2025.
Would Steelers try to bring AD back to Pittsburgh?
What it would take to acquire him is likely not cheap. The Steelers aren’t a team in trade trouble when it comes to their draft picks, though. They have as many assets as a team requests, with some limitations if things get out of hand. At that point, though, it may not be worth adding a 32-year-old defensive tackle.
Where he would play and how they would acquire him are answers that come when the time comes. But if Donald is on the market during the season, and the Steelers appear to be everything they’re hoping to be, they should certainly make a run to bring the seven-time All-Pro home.
The Steelers have all their 2024 draft picks and seemingly enough cap room to make it work if they have to. Pittsburgh hasn’t been shy in the past, trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick not long ago when they had the opportunity and giving up a first round pick. Also, the Steelers have won either eight or nine games in four of the past five years, disappointing for a franchise that expects to consistently win at least 10 games and make the playoffs.
Every team in the AFC could want Donald
Add the Broncos to the list of teams that might think they’re closer than outsiders expect and after trading for Sean Payton, Denver’s fanbase hopes that the franchise is ready to keep pushing.
Well, what if he wants to play for the Denver Broncos? You never know. Donald might see a reinvigorated Broncos team under Sean Payton and may think that Denver gives him the best chance to win another Super Bowl.
If there was anything better than being considered a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Donald would be that. He’s a graduate of Penn Hills High School (where I taught for a year) and is an insane player.
That trade for Payton cost Denver their second round pick in 2024, so trading for Donald would mean that once again the Broncos are left waiting on draft night. The Broncos are just coming out of the era of paying two firsts and two seconds for Russell Wilson, do they want to keep waiting like the 2017-2023 Rams by the “F picks” strategy?
Still, what AFC team wouldn’t dream of Donald in a competitive playoff race? We’ve already talked about the Dolphins, Steelers, Browns, Jaguars, Raiders, and Broncos, but surely there are many more.
First off, we have to include the teams that are already Super Bowl contenders like the Chiefs, Bengals, and Bills. Kansas City and Buffalo are strapped for cap space, but the Bengals have some wiggle room.
AFC teams with the most cap space are the Colts, Jets, Patriots, Browns, and Jaguars. If New York is willing to make a deal for Aaron Rodgers, why not another future Hall of Famer named Aaron? The issue there might be that they already traded a conditional 2024 first round pick for Rodgers. We know that Bill Belichick isn’t gun shy with trades.
That’s nearly every team in the AFC already, but we can’t rule out Donald’s former defensive coordinator Brandon Staley on the L.A. Chargers. Donald wouldn’t even have to move. Any team with a chance in the AFC, including a reunion with Odell Beckham Jr on the Ravens, is a possibility of Donald becomes available.
It would make it easy for Snead to make a deal that gets Donald out of the NFC, if that’s what he would want.