Could Aaron Donald still retire if Rams don’t meet his salary request?

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Aaron Donald flirted with retirement this offseason after the Rams won Super Bowl LVI, considering walking away from the NFL after reaching the pinnacle of the sport. All indications point toward him returning to the Rams in 2022, but the team still has not gotten a new contract done for the All-Pro defensive tackle.

That’s likely the reason Donald has yet to publicly say he’s coming back for another year, even if he has hinted at a return. And the longer these negotiations go on, the more speculation there will be about whether Donald will still be suiting up on Sundays this fall.

As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN understands it, Donald “has a number he will play for. If it’s not met, retirement can still go down.” That doesn’t mean Donald will retire if the Rams don’t give him the contract he deserves, but it seems like it’s still on the table.

Keep in mind that the retirement buzz around Donald — first delivered by NBC’s Rodney Harrison on the Super Bowl pregame broadcast — was always real. And it’s my understanding that Donald has a number he will play for. If it’s not met, retirement can still go down. Adding years to an already existing three-year pact takes Donald well into his mid-30s, and who knows whether he wants to play that long? But that’s the best way for Los Angeles to stretch out the money for cap purposes.

Sean McVay sounds confident that Donald will be back with the Rams next season, and he would know better than most how things are going between the team and the player. It would be a huge surprise if Donald were to retire at this point in the offseason, especially after seeing him work out like he usually does to prepare for a season.

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