There was plenty of speculation this offseason about Aaron Donald possibly retiring from the NFL. It didn’t seem realistic for the all-world pass rusher to call it a career after just eight seasons, but he was very serious about walking away.
In fact, he went as far as sending the Rams a letter informing them that he planned to retire. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network shared that new tidbit of information Thursday, saying Donald really did plan to retire, and the decision was effective on May 9.
Obviously, Donald didn’t actually retire, but part of the reason he didn’t was that the letter was never sent to the NFL. The Rams wanted to make sure there was nothing else they could do to change his mind.
They set up a call with Donald and his agent the day after receiving the letter, attempting to keep No. 99 in the fold. Contract talks progressed from there after they “looked grim” initially, with Donald seeking a big raise – more than the $8 million the Patriots gave Tom Brady in 2019.
So, the letter was sent to the Rams, and Donald was at peace with his decision. The only caveat was this: The Rams brass, Donald and his agent had a zoom set up the next day to discuss his contract. The letter stayed unearthed until that meeting just to be sure there wasn’t anything they could do. Meanwhile, the Rams were endlessly respectful of Donald, regardless of his decision, simply wanting to know when and how to properly honor him for his stellar career.
Instead, there was a slightly encouraging conversation between Donald’s agent and the Rams and another one was scheduled. And then another. And another. And suddenly the two sides were even more encouraged that an impossible deal could get done.
It’s possible this could’ve been a negotiating tactic by Donald to get the Rams to reconsider his contract and give him a bump in pay. If it was, it worked because he signed a revised three-year deal worth $95 million, a raise of $40 million.
Donald is committed to the Rams for two years, but after those two seasons, he’ll have the choice of either retiring or returning for the final year of his contract and earning another $35 million.
The Rams should be thankful they still have Donald on the roster because based on this latest report, he was set on stepping away.