Analyst Believes in $60 Million Deal for Rams Pro Bowler


Getty The Rams defense in the huddle during their Week 3 home win over the Buccaneers during the 2021 season.

As the Los Angeles Rams returned to their practice site at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks on Monday, May 23 and captured photos/videos of the Super Bowl champs grinding away, there was one face of the organization who was notably absent in day one of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

Written by Heavy on Rams reporter Conor Roche, three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and perennial Pro Bowler Aaron Donald was a no-show.

This decision has been intertwined with the reports of Donald wanting a new contract extension, which would allow him to retire as a Ram. ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, though, wrote that if a deal isn’t made then “A.D” would consider retirement — which he originally gave a thought to during a conversation with NBC Sports’ Rodney Harrison before Super Bowl 56.

But, head coach Sean McVay told the L.A. media that Donald and the Rams have been in good contact with each other, saying “Dialogue has been good. He’s done a great job communicating. [He] gets a chance to spend time with his family right now.”

Still, what could be a realistic deal that would work in Donald’s favor? One analyst from Pro Football Focus proposed a blockbuster idea.

‘Hypothetical’ Blockbuster Deal

The deal that Brad Spielberger of PFF pointed to for Donald is?

“A hypothetical two-year, $60 million extension would make Donald’s full contract a five-year, $115 million pact, with the true $23 million per year average just narrowly surpassing his old contract,” Spielberger wrote.

Spielberger detailed why Donald deserves that kind of money.

“All Donald has done since signing a record-breaking extension in 2018 is win two Defensive Player of the Year awards (2018, 2020), earn four straight First-Team All-Pro selections, generate over 100 more quarterback pressures (370) than the next highest player and win a Super Bowl,” he said.

Furthermore, Donald has delivered the kind of production that has Spielberger believing the 2014 first rounder can reset the market for players in his position.

“At $22.5 million per year, Donald’s deal has yet to be surpassed by an interior defender four years later,” Spielberger said. “And even now at 31 years of age, he has every right to reset the position market again himself. After finally securing his first Lombardi Trophy, Donald has suggested that retirement is not out of the question, but the Rams simply must do whatever it takes to keep him on the field for a few more years.”

Who Donald Could Top Extension Wise

With the proposal made by the PFF writer to put $60 million in extension money on the table for Donald, that deal can get the Rams captain to surpass the contract extension of one five-time Pro Bowler in the AFC.

“Cameron Heyward’s 2021 extension for $16.4 million per year with the Pittsburgh Steelers is the most for an interior defender 30 years or older, but Donald will certainly break that record in short order,” Spielberger said.

He adds that if the Rams were to gravitate toward making that kind of deal, they would be following the contract blueprint made by two teams involving their star skill position players.

“There are still three years remaining on Donald’s six-year, $135 million deal, with $55 million in cash owed. Following the blueprint of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, he could tack on two years to the end of his deal at a massive new money average per year with a signing bonus that takes care of him up front,” the PFF writer wrote.

This offseason, blockbuster deals were given out to Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner to join the champs, while Matthew Stafford also was given a new deal in March. Time will tell if and when the Rams complete a new deal that brings “A.D.” back to the “Rams House.” In the meantime, in typical Donald fashion, he’s speed training to stay in shape.

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