The Los Angeles Rams avoided losing one of the best defensive players in NFL history in the midst of his prime, but it came with a hefty cost.
Aaron Donald agreed to a re-worked contract with the Rams that will keep him in Los Angeles on Monday, June 6. Donald will receive a $40 million raise from the Rams, bumping the $55 million salary remaining on his three-year to $95 million, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
Donald Set to Become Highest-Paid Non-Quarterback in NFL History
With his new contract, Donald will have a yearly salary that eclipses $30 million per year. That makes him the first non-quarterback in NFL history to have a yearly salary that’s north of $30 million.
Prior to Donald signing his new deal, wide receiver Tyreek Hill was the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. He signed a four-year, $120 million deal when he was traded to the Dolphins in March, placing his yearly salary right at $30 million.
Not only does Donald have a higher yearly salary than Hill, but his contract will also be fully guaranteed for the next two seasons. Donald will receive $65 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. The third year of Donald’s new deal could be fully guaranteed, too. If Donald is still on an NFL roster (whether it be the Rams or somewhere else) on the fifth day of the 2024 league year, he’ll receive $30 million guaranteed for that season, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
This isn’t the first time that Donald’s made history when signing a contract. In August 2018, Donald signed a six-year, $135 million contract extension with $87 million guaranteed. The deal made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. Donald didn’t hold that title for too long, though. Linebacker Khalil Mack signed a six-year, $141 million contract extension with $90 million guaranteed right after he was traded to the Bears in September of that year.
Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt held the “highest-paid defensive player in the NFL” title prior to Donald’s contract agreement on Monday. Watt signed a four-year, $112 million extension with $80 million guaranteed right before the 2021 season began.
How Donald’s Contract Affects the Rams’ Salary Cap Situation
While Donald’s new deal makes him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, he still won’t be the highest-paid player on the Rams’ roster.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford signed a four-year, $160 million extension with the Rams in March, making him the highest-paid player on the team. Donald isn’t the only $100 million man on the Rams’ defense, either. Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year, $105 million extension with $71.2 million guaranteed prior to the start of the 2020 season.
With Donald’s new contract, the Rams have $233.2 million in salary cap hits for the 2023 season, per Spotrac. It’s unclear what the 2023 salary cap will be, but the 2022 salary cap is $208.2 million. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson projects that the NFL’s salary cap will rise by more than $20 million per year starting in 2023, when the league’s new TV deals start.
The Rams could catch a break if that ends up happening. Los Angeles is still negotiating an extension with receiver Cooper Kupp, who has two years remaining on his three-year, $48 million deal.