Aaron Donald told Sean McVay after playoff loss: "I'm full"

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has retired. We found out on March 15. Coach Sean McVay knew two months earlier.

McVay tells Albert Breer of that Donald said, the day after the January 14 playoff loss to the Lions, "I’m full."

“I’m just like, 'And you should be. You have every right to feel that way,'” McVay told Breer. “What an amazing thing. The words won’t do justice to the way that he so eloquently articulated it to me and just put it in a way that, as a human being, all you’re really looking for is to be at peace and to be happy. He was full. And, man, did you feel that. You’re just so happy because he earned it too.”

Two days later, McVay was asked about Donald's future with the team. It sounds, in hindsight, as if McVay realized it might have been the emotion of the end of a season talking.

"I think those conversations occur at the appropriate time," McVay said. "There's so much emotion that takes place right after a game and after a season that I think. . . . And even I was reading earlier, you see Jason Kelce, there's all these assumptions and things like that and so I think you give guys the chance to really just digest the season, coaches and players alike, and then we'll address all those things at the right time.”

Two months to the day later, Donald retired. Just like he did two years ago (privately) when trying to get a new contract from the Rams.

It's fair to wonder whether an offer of significantly more than $30 million from the Rams or someone else would get Donald to change his mind. Maybe it would. Again, he had to tell the Rams he was retiring in 2022 to get his three-year, $95 million deal. With $65 million paid over two years and only $30 million left on the deal, it could be that Donald has simply decided that, for $30 million, he's done. For $35 million or $40 million, maybe he wouldn't be.

It's not a leverage play per se. It's reality. Given what he's made and given what he's worth, it's not worth it to him to play for $30 million. So he walks away on his own terms, one of the few NFL players to earn the ability to do so.