The Los Angeles Rams have been the busiest and most prominent team this NFL offseason. They traded for cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, plus WR Brandin Cooks, signed DT N’damukong Suh, and even finally rid themselves of Tavon Austin. Not only that, Cooks received a contract extension, as did RB Todd Gurley, and OL Rob Havenstein.
...And yet, the big question over the last several weeks was whether or not they would pay Aaron Donald, the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. In a holdout for the second offseason in a row, Donald waited as other Rams got their big paydays, and wound up missing the entire preseason. With the regular season opener just over one week away, we (sadly, for Seahawks fans) have a resolution.
Six years, $135 million, $87 million guaranteed, and Aaron Donald is the richest defensive contract the NFL has ever seen.
Long time coming: Rams and Aaron Donald finalizing a record 6-year, $135 million, including $87 million guaranteed, per source. Richest defensive deal in NFL history.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 31, 2018
Donald now tied to LA for next seven years. And he will be ready for Monday night opener vs. Raiders.
And evidently it won’t balloon his cap number for the 2018 season, and he’s got a ridiculously large signing bonus coming his way.
Even with the record-breaking deal, Aaron Donald’s salary-cap number for the 2018 season rises from $6.892 million to $8.892 million. Rams get their man without suffocating impact to their salary cap this season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 31, 2018
So with Donald getting what he obviously deserves, that leaves Earl Thomas and Khalil Mack as the only holdouts before the start of the regular season. In Mack’s case, it looks like his holdout could go into Week 1, so the Rams vs. Raiders will likely see a Los Angeles defense with Aaron Donald, and a bad Raiders defense without its best player. There’s also been no indication that the Seahawks are nearer to an agreement with Thomas, or that Thomas will end his holdout, and the trade rumors surrounding ETIII and the Dallas Cowboys have died down for the time being.
Oh yes, and Donald’s return to Seattle to play the Seahawks is Week 5, less than a year removed from sacking Russell Wilson three times in the 42-7 drubbing. Let’s hope the “improved” offensive line can do a better job of neutralizing Donald than we’ve seen in years past.