Jun 7, 2022
The reigning Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams began mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, and their franchise defensive lineman was back in the building fresh off signing one of the richest contracts in NFL history.
“It’s a good opportunity to try to win another Super Bowl. We’re back to the beginning stages of that and ready to work for it,” Aaron Donald said. “Happy to be here and ready to go to work.”
Donald put ink to paper on his reworked contract on Monday. The Rams defensive lineman is now guaranteed $65 million over the next two seasons and $95 million through the 2024 season, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose terms of the deal. The restructured contract gives Donald a $40 million raise and makes the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year the highest-paid non-quarterback in league history. He’s set to average approximately $31.7 million per season through 2024.
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Speaking to the media for the first time since signing the restructured contract, Donald professed one of his biggest incentives to return was the opportunity to winning another Super Bowl.
“It’s about winning for me. The pieces are here for that to come into fruition,” Donald said. “For me to be a piece of the puzzle and be here right now is a blessing.”
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Donald contemplated retirement this offseason, but Rams coach Sean McVay was never too concerned about the possibility. The two remained in contact leading into Monday’s contract signing.
“The communication between Aaron (Donald) and us and me and him personally, I felt really good about it. He’s been very clear all along,” McVay said. “I wasn’t too nervous about that just based on the dialogue that had existed.”
With Donald officially back in the fold, the Rams should once again have a formidable defense. The Rams lost edge rusher Von Miller to the Buffalo Bills in free agency, but their core other starters – including Donald, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and edge rusher Leonard Floyd – are returning. Plus, the Rams added eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The four defenders were all on the practice field on Tuesday for the first time.
“It’s awesome. Leonard was out here as well as Jalen. We have some really special players on defense. I think Bobby's communication and his ownership of what (defensive coordinator) Raheem (Morris) and the defensive coaches are trying to get done already is really impressive,” McVay said. “And obviously, Aaron's continuity and comfort level with both (defensive line) coach (Eric) Henderson and Raheem, he’s going to be able to pick up where he left off.”
The engine to the Rams' defense, though, is Donald. His 98 career sacks are a franchise record, and his 78 sacks since 2016 are the most in the NFL in that span. The Rams status as a Super Bowl contender hinged on Donald’s decision to return -- and the Rams aptly compensated him like it.
“I think he’s one of the best defensive if not football players to ever play the game,” Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp said. “What he’s been able to do, what he does on a daily basis and what he does week in and week out. To have someone like that in our building comeback here. Just what he brings on the field, brings to our locker room (and) to the practices. Just the mindset and the standard that he lives by each and every day. He’s an invaluable player on our team.”