WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Aaron Donald has signed a record $135 million extension that could keep him with the Rams up to 2024.
- Donald’s contract extension has been a work in progress since 2016, especially after he kept holding out during offseason training camp.
- While Donald said the negotiations gave him a “stressful time”, he and the Rams are happy he’s back.
After more than 18 months of negotiations, star defensive tackle Aaron Donald finally signed a six-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams last Friday.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the $135 million deal, which includes a guaranteed $87 million, is the richest defensive deal in NFL history.
Les Snead, the Rams’ general manager, said “it was good to see” Donald when he arrived at the team’s training facility Friday morning to finalize the deal.
Donald confessed, “Still got to get in football mode as far as pass-rush moves, and it’s just knock the rust off a little bit. That’ll come in a couple days.”
Coach Sean McVay assured, “We’ve got a strategic plan… to get him up to speed… you want to make sure he’s also fresh and ready to go for that date on Monday night.”
Donald is a three-time All-Pro, four-time Pro Bowl selection, and 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year, with 39 career sacks and nine forced fumbles.
His contract extension has been a work in progress since he finished with eight sacks, five deflected passes, and two forced fumbles as a third-year pro in the Rams’ 4-12 2016 season.
Donald’s extension ensures that the Rams’ highly regarded defense is kept intact this season.
Donald’s holdout lasted throughout training camp when, instead of attending the team’s voluntary offseason program, he trained with his former strength and speed coach at Pittsburgh, where he starred in college.
When he finally reported to the team’s practice facility on the eve of the 2017 season opener, a new contract was not in place. He was activated only in Week 2.
Donald’s absence hardly affected his play, however – he finished his fourth season with 11 sacks and five forced fumbles in 14 games, and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
When the Rams entered the offseason, Donald resumed his holdout pattern and was absent from organized team activities and mandatory minicamp.
While it was feared that Donald might miss part of the season, Snead said that a contract resolution had taken from more than three weeks ago.
Donald expressed relief that the dispute was over, saying, “It was a stressful time for me… So, it’s over and done with now, and I’m just happy to be here, back with my guys, back with these coaches and back playing football.”
Aaron Donald is the latest Rams player who was given an extension in 2018. He will be playing in the team’s season opener on Monday night, September 10th, against the Oakland Raiders.