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Sean McVay: Rams had an unspoken understanding it was probably Aaron Donald's last year

Aaron Donald's retirement announcement did not catch his head coach by surprise.

Rams coach Sean McVay told Steve Wyche of NFL Network that although Donald hadn't specifically said the 2023 season would be his last, the Rams were anticipating that Donald seemed ready to walk away.

"Aaron and I have such a special relationship," McVay said. "You know being around somebody as long as I've been around. When they are savoring moments, they are taking it in and without having to say, there was kind of unspoken understanding that I had that this was probably going to be his last year. What a great job he did leading, influencing and affecting throughout the course of his career, but it was really on display this year. With how young we were, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We've known for a while and you never replace an Aaron Donald. Fortunately, we had a little bit of time to get our ducks in a row but man, there's truly one of one when you talk about him."

McVay said it's tough for the Rams to lose Donald as a person.

"It's one of the most special relationships that I've been fortunate to have in this coaching profession," McVay said. "You are reminded why you get into it and it's to be around people like him. He also happened to be an incredibly special player. I think a lot of people are probably happy that he retired, other than people on the Rams."

Opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks were thrilled with the news of Donald's retirement, but for McVay it's bittersweet.