Aaron Donald's 2022 contract was crafted to make 2024 retirement easier

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has retired. It's a stunner, but not a surprise.

His three-year contract from 2022 specifically was crafted to allow him to walk away after two years, without giving up a penny that he'd already received.

From our item at the time: "He gets $65 million over the next two years, with no offset on guarantees. It’s structured to let him retire after 2023 with no financial penalty. If decides to play in 2024, he’ll get another $30 million."

So he gives up $30 million, but he gives nothing back.

A strange wrinkle that emerged on Friday morning, not long before he retired. The Rams reportedly restructured the deal, creating $9.2 million in 2024 cap space. Why do that if he's retiring?

It's possible that, with $30 million otherwise exiting the 2024 cap, the Rams wanted to kick some of it to next year, which could happen if/when the Rams officially process the retirement after June 1.

Whatever the reason, Donald has retired. But remember this. He submitted a retirement letter to the Rams in May 2022, roughly a month before they tore up his existing deal and replaced it with a three-year, $95 million contract.

We're not saying his latest retirement is real. But he has retired before. We just didn't know about it at the time.