Rams, Aaron Donald finally agree to contract extension for All-Pro defensive lineman

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist

After an offseason spent adding new players and signing holdovers to extensions, the Los Angeles Rams finally came to an agreement with their best player: Aaron Donald.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who was first with the details, tweeted that the contract being finalized on Friday is for six years and $135 million, including $87 million guaranteed.

He’s all smiles now: DT Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams have agreed to a record-breaking contract extension. (AP)
He’s all smiles now: DT Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams have agreed to a record-breaking contract extension. (AP)

Contract details

Via ProFootballTalk, Donald’s signing bonus is $40 million, the largest for a non-quarterback. He will make $50 million over the first two years, all of which is fully guaranteed.

It is the richest deal for a defensive player in NFL history.

The pact runs through 2024, added on to this year, the final season of Donald’s rookie contract.

It is expected he’ll be ready to go for the Rams’ opener against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 10.

Frequent communication led to deal

The Rams have publicly kept things positive when it came to talking about Donald’s status, and seemingly were in frequent communication with Donald’s representatives at CAA Sports.

On the eve of training camp, as he discussed the contract the team had just agreed to with running back Todd Gurley, Rams general manager Les Snead said keeping Donald with the Rams “for a long time” was the goal, and that the team was actively working to get something done.

But as the early days of training camp became weeks and then camp officially broke, Snead was still saying the same thing, telling ProFootballTalk on Sunday that the two sides were “working to come to a solution.”

Also on Sunday, coach Sean McVay gave a bit of a nudge, saying in a conference call he’d like to see Donald join the team “by the end of the week” to give him time to prepare and get up to speed.

On Tuesday, McVay jokingly said to reporters, “Let’s go, Kevin Demoff!,” referring to the Rams’ vice president of football operations.

But Donald isn’t new to this; he took part in mandatory minicamp in 2017 but then sat out all of training camp. He ended his holdout on the eve of the regular season and missed the regular-season opener, but still had a fantastic season, with 11 sacks and 27 quarterback hits as well as five forced fumbles.

“He did come on a short period of time last year and played in the Washington game after he was only here for a week,” McVay said. “He’s kind of been through a situation like this if he is able to report.”

The 13th overall pick in 2014, Donald was named to the Pro Bowl in each of the first four seasons of his career and has been voted first-team All-Pro each of the last three.

What does this mean for the Raiders and Khalil Mack?

There’s been a theory this offseason that Donald and Khalil Mack’s agents were waiting to see which player signed first, thus setting the bar the other would be aiming to clear. But since camp began, it seemed clear that Donald would be first to agree to an extension; unless the Rams have been lying for weeks, they were talking to Donald’s representatives and trying to get the contract done.

That has not been the case with Mack and the Raiders. By all accounts, there has been little to no communication between the two sides for months.

On Thursday night, Mack, who has been quiet as he stays away from his team, briefly popped onto social media.

The Athletic NFL’s Ted Nguyen tweeted, “Poetry” under a highlight clip of Mack beating two Miami Dolphins offensive linemen to chase Jay Cutler out of the pocket and Mack responded, “I miss it.”

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr tweeted to Mack, “I miss you” thus reminding us of their bromance.

It was all quite quaint, but doesn’t get Oakland to pay Mack the money he’s earned.

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