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Aaron Donald’s contract is making life difficult for 49ers amid Nick Bosa holdout

If not for the Rams paying Aaron Donald over $30 million per season, Nick Bosa may have already signed

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have less than a week to resolve Nick Bosa’s contract holdout before he ends up missing the opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the main reason for his extended absence could be Aaron Donald’s massive deal with the Los Angeles Rams. The latest reports on Bosa’s holdout are that the 49ers are more than willing to make him the highest-paid edge rusher, surpassing T.J. Watt’s $28 million per season, but less likely to want to make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL.

That title currently belongs to Donald at $31.6 million per year.

“This really isn’t a question of, is he gonna be the NFL’s highest-paid pass-rusher. It sounds to me like they’re already there, already past T.J. Watt,” Rapoport said. “That’s not really what this is about. This is about how close to Aaron Donald’s $31 million and change does he get, or does he get over that?”

Bosa was set to make $17.9 million on the fifth-year option, but that’s never been a realistic possibility. Instead, the 49ers must decide if they want to pay Bosa over $31 million per season—a significant mark-up from Watt at $28 million and way more than 99% of players who aren’t quarterbacks—or see if he’s bluffing and will either sign for their best offer or see if he’s going to return before he ends up losing an accrued season by holding out. That’s what Chris Jones is threatening the Kansas City Chiefs with, another player who looks likely to miss the season opener because of a holdout that is related to AD’s massive contract extension.

Because Donald makes $7 million more per season than the next-highest defensive tackle, L.A.’s huge contract re-do in 2022 has seriously moved the market for defensive players who are the top of their games. It has also, unfortunately for some teams, made it impossible for those players to feel like they’re being respected or paid enough unless they’re on the Aaron Donald tier.

The Rams play the 49ers in Week 2, making it possible that Donald’s contract is what keeps Bosa from facing L.A. in their first regular season matchup.