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Has any player been ‘Rams MVP’ more times than Aaron Donald?

Donald’s career includes being the most valuable player on the Rams for each of his 9 seasons

Carolina Panthers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

This week, writer Eric Edholm cited Aaron Donald as the MVP of the L.A. Rams, calling the race “not even close” despite the probable need for Sean McVay to have Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp if the team has any chance of rebounding. Not that Donald isn’t the MVP, he could be, but surely Stafford and Kupp are “close”.

Donald is the pick here, and it’s not even close. I won’t launch into the millionth paean committed to his greatness. You know about the most destructive interior defender the league has seen, possibly ever.

Frankly, the Rams are lucky they still have him. Donald considered retirement, he said, following the Rams’ Super Bowl victory, and he’s sticking it out after the wicked hangover that was the 2022 season.

What is left for Donald to accomplish? Well, if he can continue dominating on a rebuilding defense, it could vault him to even loftier greatness. The man is likely to see even more tricked-up blocking schemes designed to neutralize him.

Who is the most valuable Rams player of all-time?

Donald is the only player on the 2023 Rams defense who has any notable experience of playing in the NFL for more than a couple of seasons, with Ernest Jones and Jordan Fuller being the next-closest. That’s an unbelievable statement and a reason why Donald is being mentioned by writers in segments about potential in-season trades already.

Notably, Edholm named Jalen Ramsey as the MVP of the Miami Dolphins.

This wouldn’t be the first time that AD had to carry a defense though. Donald won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, when the Rams went 6-10, then nearly took him Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016 despite the team going 7-9 and 4-12 those seasons. He finished in the top-four of voting then and could have been the team MVP for each of his first three years in the league.

Donald was most likely the team’s MVP in 2017, when Sean McVay brought in a lot more help for him and the Rams went 11-5, as well as 2018, when the team went to the Super Bowl...Donald won Defensive Player of the Year in both of those seasons.

So you could easily argue that Donald was the MVP of the Rams for each of his first five years in the league. Then the Rams stumbled to 9-7 in 2019, but Donald was a first-team All-Pro who led the NFL in tackles for a loss, followed by another Defensive Player of the Year trophy in 2020.

Make that each of his first seven seasons in the NFL.

Really it wasn’t until the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford and that helped elevate Cooper Kupp to winning Offensive Player of the Year in 2021 that you could have even had a second candidate. No offense to Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, Andrew Whitworth, or Jalen Ramsey. The team also got a nice boost from Von Miller and Odell Beckham, Jr. in 2021.

But Donald still finished third in DPOY voting, was a first-team All-Pro, and closed out the Super Bowl by sacking Joe Burrow.

Even in 2022, Donald made the Pro Bowl at a time when Stafford and Kupp also missed half of the season. So I think it’s fair to argue that Aaron Donald has been the MVP of the L.A. Rams for all nine of his career campaigns. Will he make it 10 seasons in 2023?

Has any player in Rams history been the most valuable player on the Rams at least 10 times?

The Rams have had some great quarterbacks in their history, but none who had 10 seasons worth of success. Steven Jackson had eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but wasn’t quite as impactful as Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson, albeit they had shorter Rams careers.

Isaac Bruce had 14 seasons with the Rams, but was he the team’s MVP for more than half of those? Torry Holt had 10 seasons with the team, eight of those going for at least 1,100 yards. Then you’ve got Jackie Slater and his career that spanned from 1976 to 1995.

Defensively, Deacon Jones, Jack Youngblood, Merlin Olson, and Kevin Greene come to mind.

Aaron Donald is simply as unique as they come, so maybe there isn’t another contender. Now or in the past. Whether he is the MVP in 2023 is also yet to be determined, and a reason why teams could triple-team him again like its 2014. But that’s for the future.

He might stand alone in value for the past and present.