By Terrance Turner
June 6, 2022
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is back!
Donald has agreed to a new deal with the Los Angeles Rams that will make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history. The contract extension guarantees him $65 million over the next two seasons with an option that allows him to either return or retire in 2024 for an additional $30 million, according to ESPN. The deal offers him a total of $95 million through the 2024 season, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports.
Donald, 31, is taking his physical now and is expected to sign the contract later this evening, sources told ESPN reporter Adam Schefter. The Rams begin their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. The team announced the news via a celebratory tweet today:
Donald has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his eight NFL seasons, one of only three defensive players since 1970 to achieve that. He has 98 sacks total and has six seasons with at least 10 sacks, the second-most by a primary interior lineman since sacks became official in 1982, per ESPN. Donald had 12.5 sacks in the regular season and then followed that up with 3.5 more in the playoffs during the Rams’ run to the Super Bowl.
And it was Donald who sealed the game for the Rams by sacking Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, forcing him into an errant throw that hit the ground. With 43 seconds remaining, Cincinnati found itself in a do-or-die scenario: 4th-and-1, at midfield. The Bengals lined up in shotgun. But their plans were dashed when Donald sacked Burrow, throwing him down and foiling the pass. Donald then ran in view of the camera, pointing to his ring finger — he was about to get a Super Bowl ring.
The Rams won the Super Bowl. They are now the second team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Celebrations erupted on the sideline: head coach Sean McVay was bathed in Gatorade by his players; WR Odell Beckham Jr. burst into tears. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald got weepy, too, in an emotional postgame interview with Michelle Tafoya.
“I’m so happy. I wanted this so bad,” he said. “I dreamed this, man. I dreamed this, and it’s like… It’s surreal. Look at this,” he said, as confetti streamed down from the ceiling. “Look at this, man. I feel amazing.” He added: “It’s the best feeling in the world, man. God is great. I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say. It’s a blessing.”
Tafoya had asked about swirling reports that Donald was considering retirement after the Super Bowl. Donald avoided the question. ‘I’m in the moment,’ he said at the time. Last month, on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, Donald indicated that his return is contingent on getting a new deal.
“It ain’t about the money, it’s a business at the end of the day,” Donald, 31, said on the podcast hosted by former NFL players Brandon Marshall, Adam “Pacman” Jones and LeSean McCoy. “That’s what you’ve got to see. For me, it’s about winning. I don’t want to play football if I can’t win anyway, so I feel like … if I got a real opportunity to win another Super Bowl, then it makes sense to play. But again, it’s still a business. We’ve got to handle the business side of things, and if that wasn’t to get handled then, you know, it is what it is type of situation. I’ll be fine regardless.”