Rams, Aaron Donald finalize six-year extension reportedly worth $135 million
Donald is now the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history
The Los Angeles Rams are making Aaron Donald the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. The Rams announced that they had reached a six-year extension with Donald, while multiple outlets reported the dollar amounts on the deal. It will reportedly pay Donald $135 million and contains $87 million in guaranteed money.
Donald is entering his fifth NFL season and has been one of the NFL's best defensive players since the moment he stepped on field. He has made the Pro Bowl in all four of his seasons and has been named a first team All-Pro in each of the past three. He was also named Defensive Player of the Year last season.
He has been engaged in long-term contract negotiations with the Rams for over a year. Donald held out through most of training camp last season, and missed the team's season-opener while getting up to speed. He returned to the field and was just as dominant as ever, then held out throughout this offseason while waiting for the Rams to offer him an agreeable contract. There had been rumblings in recent weeks that the two sides were getting closer to a deal, and it finally came to fruition on Friday.
Donald's six-year, $135 million extension averages $22.5 million per year. The is the largest contract among any defensive player in terms of both total dollar value and average annual value. Previously, the largest total dollar value contract among defenders belonged to the Broncos' Von Miller, whose six-year deal pays him $114.1 million. Miller also had the highest average annual value on his contract among all defenders, averaging just over $19 million per year. Donald blew those figures out of the water. His $87 million guarantee is also $17 million more than Miller was guaranteed when he signed his deal back in 2016.
The only players in the NFL now making more money than Donald on a total dollar value, average annual value, or guaranteed money basis are quarterbacks. Only Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo signed deals worth more in "new money" than Donald; only Ryan, Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, Drew Brees and Alex Smith have contracts that pay more on an average annual basis; and only Ryan, Rodgers and Stafford receive more guaranteed money.
Donald's contract will keep him in Los Angeles through 2024, which will be his age-33 season. He is heading into what should be the prime of his NFL career, and it has become clear over the past few years that he is now the best and most impactful defensive player in football. He also plays for what is likely the NFL's best defensive coordinator in Wade Phillips, and his team has surrounded him with a ton of elite defensive talent like Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Lamarcus Joyner. He is well set up to continue dominating over the next several seasons.
In signing Donald through 2024, the Rams now have Donald, Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks all locked in through at least 2021, plus Nickell Robey-Coleman, Mark Barron, Cooper Kupp through 2020, and Jared Goff's fifth-year option for 2020 as well. In other words, if the Rams progress as expected, they should be a contender for much of the length of this deal.