Insider Lays out Scenario Where Steelers Acquire Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald

Getty The Steelers could potentially acquire Aaron Donald in 2024.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could bring back Aaron Donald to his hometown.

In a proposed scenario by Mike Florio of NBC Sports, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald could join the Steelers as soon as 2024. Donald recently inked a deal with the Rams that will pay him $65 million through the 2023 season.

According to Florio, Donald could have the desire to play closer to home — he’s from Pittsburgh and attended the University of Pittsburgh — and leverage a trade to the Steelers. This scenario would see the Rams trade Donald prior to the last year of his deal (he’s signed through 2024) and get something in return. Florio also theorizes that Donald could retire — and then unretire — to force a move to another destination.

How Donald Could End Up With The Steelers

“And if he retires following the 2023 season, the next move could be to try to unretire with a new team,” says Florio.

“At that point, Donald could try to leverage a trade to a location closer to his hometown of Pittsburgh,” Florio continues. “If the Rams will get no further services from him either way, they could secure some amount of value in exchange for swapping the final season of his deal to another franchise.”

Prior to signing his new deal with the Rams on Tuesday, June 7, Donald had considered retirement. Florio explains that Donald’s willingness to retire this offseason could force a move to a team where he could finish his career.

“After 2023, his mindset could be very simple,” says Florio. “Happily retire from football altogether or keep playing in a city far closer to the city where he’d prefer to spend as much time as possible.”

The eight-time Pro Bowler’s new contract provides an out after the 2023 season. However, it would still result in a dead cap charge for the Rams. Assuming Donald plays out his contract through the 2024 season, he could still finish his career in Pittsburgh when he officially becomes a free agent in 2025.

In other words, Donald’s tenure in Los Angeles could see a minimum of two years or a maximum of three years.

“If he’s determined to end his career closer to home, at that point Donald simply needs to play one more year for the Rams (at $30 million) and then, given the unique structure of his new deal, become a free agent after the 2024 season,” says Florio.

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Why Steelers Would Welcome Donald

The Rams play a similar 3-4 defensive alignment to the Steelers, with Donald having experience as a nose tackle and the right defensive end spot in the formation.

It’s no secret that Donald is considered the top defensive player in the league — and one of the best ever. The 31-year-old is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, seven-time First-Team All-Pro selection and has missed just two games during his eight-year career.

In other words, even if Donald isn’t the player he once was by the time 2024 and 2025 rolls around, the Steelers would absolutely pounce on the opportunity to have the future Hall-of-Fame lineman end his career in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are currently seeking Stephon Tuitt’s replacement following his abrupt retirement. While two years may feel like ages away, maybe Pittsburgh eventually fills that void in the form of Donald.

Considering Donald’s connection to the city of Pittsburgh, it’s certainly a possibility.

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