Aaron Donald's Early Retirement: Does He Owe the Rams? NFL Analyst Questions $5M

NFL Legend Bids Farewell After Illustrious Career Peak.

by Zain ul Abedin
Aaron Donald's Early Retirement: Does He Owe the Rams? NFL Analyst Questions $5M
© Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Over the weekend, the sports world was stirred by the news of Los Angeles Rams' star pass rusher, Aaron Donald, announcing his departure from the NFL. This decision elicited a mix of congratulatory messages and expressions of regret from fans across the league, highlighting the impact of his illustrious career.

Amid the reactions, questions surfaced about the Rams' decision to adjust Donald's salary so close to his retirement announcement, sparking a debate within the sports community. NFL insider Peter Schrager, during a segment on "Good Morning Football" Monday, shed light on this financial maneuver.

According to Schrager, the adjustment was a strategic move in anticipation of Donald's retirement, ensuring that he would not be indebted to the team. It was revealed that the Rams had restructured a $5 million roster bonus, first converting it into a signing bonus, and then into an option bonus.

This adjustment significantly reduced Donald's base salary impact on the team's salary cap. Schrager emphasized that this strategy was a win-win situation, benefiting both the team's financial health and Donald's pocketbook with a substantial $5 million parting gift.

However, this also meant fans' hopes of seeing Donald return in 2024 were dashed.

Donald's Strategic Exit

Reflecting on Aaron Donald's career trajectory, it's evident his decision to retire wasn't made hastily. Following the Rams' Super Bowl victory against Joe Burrow, rumors swirled about Donald possibly stepping away, alongside coach Sean McVay.

While those speculations didn't materialize then, Donald's retirement comes after a notable rebound in performance. Despite experiencing the lowest sack count of his career in 2022 with just five sacks, Donald defied expectations by surging back in 2023.

Matching his 2016 performance with eight sacks, Donald demonstrated he was exiting the stage not in decline, but at a career apex. This resurgence, however, makes his retirement at nearly 33 all the more poignant for the Rams.

As the team faces the challenge of filling the void left by one of the most dominant defenders in recent history, speculation abounds on how this will influence their strategy moving forward, particularly in the draft. Donald's legacy, characterized by unparalleled skill and leadership, sets a high bar for whoever steps into his shoes on the Rams' defensive line.

Aaron Donald Rams