Aaron Donald’s Looming Retirement Threat Could Cost the Rams Millions

Before the Los Angeles Rams took the field for Super Bowl 56, chatter emerged around Aaron Donald potentially stepping into retirement if his team won the championship. The Rams followed through by edging out the Cincinnati Bengals to claim their first Super Bowl win in more than two decades.

Since then, the focus sits on the future first-ballot Hall of Famer‘s uncertain NFL path that he’s avoiding revealing what direction he’s leaning. However, Donald’s thinking more than anything else may wind up being a ploy to garner a more lucrative contract from the Rams.

Von Miller knows what will keeps Aaron Donald from stepping into retirement

As much as Aaron Donald is focusing solely on celebrating a crowning career achievement, his potential NFL retirement sits as the primary discussion.

After the Super Bowl 56 win, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year deflected chatter concerning his upcoming decision. However, teammate Von Miller chose to address the matter, voicing he believes that the sensation of winning a championship is too addictive for Donald to step away from the game.

“I don’t know, man. He’s done everything you can possibly do,” two-time Super Bowl champion Von Miller said via Pro Football Talk. “But this feeling here, there’s nothing like it. It’s addictive. Once you feel this — coming to the Super Bowl is one thing. But winning it is different. And we’ll just have to see.

“He’s done so much. But I’ll tell you, this feeling is great. It just makes you want it more and more and more. But he’s definitely capped off a great career, if he chooses to do that. But this is an addictive feeling and I can’t see him walking away from this.”

Donald reached the mountaintop after eight seasons while playing in peak form. He’s accomplished it all earning eight Pro Bowl selections, selected to seven First-Team All-Pro nods, won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and now captured his first Super Bowl win.

If he wants, he still has many highly productive campaigns ahead where he will be a significant factor defensively. Football is the ultimate team game, but he can play a huge factor as he did in Super Bowl 56 to help turn the tide in the Rams’ favor.

Los Angeles certainly wants him back, especially with him being arguably the game’s best defensive player. His absence would leave a gaping hole that his team would struggle to fill. The Rams will do all they can to keep his spark to extend his NFL career.

Aaron Donald is likely using retirement talk as a money ploy

Aaron Donald has every reason to feel fully accomplished at this point in his illustrious career.

Albeit he’s only finished his eighth NFL season, he’s already lined up a sure-fire Hall of Fame career. However, it’s hard not to look at his remaining contract as he possesses three more years making approximately $22 million per season.

Although he’s among the league’s top-paid players, T.J. Watt’s four-year, $112 million deal puts him at roughly $28 million per season. Donald certainly sees that figure and must believe he’s worth more than that, especially after helping the Rams secure a Super Bowl win.

That isn’t to say that Watt hasn’t proven his worth after winning his first Defensive Player of the Year award, but it comes down to being a money game. Donald knows his value, and what better bargaining chip than to throw out there that he may heavily consider retirement.

The eight-time Pro Bowl holds all the leverage in the world right now and may use it to get himself more money. His thinking could be feeling that his career is fulfilled, but the money motive isn’t out of the question by any means.

The Rams hold other significant roster decisions ahead

Beyond convincing Donald to avoid retirement, the Rams hold other major roster moves to make that will give them the best chance to secure vie for another Super Bowl.

General manager Les Snead’s offseason game plan starts with figuring out how to create additional salary cap space to keep Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller. Each played a significant part in helping the Rams win a championship through pivotal performances.

Beckham and Miller are heading into free agency for the first time, meaning they will explore their options. The two have expressed a strong desire to stay in Los Angeles, including the former suggesting he could take a hometown discount.

Meanwhile, the Rams are expected to work out an extension with star quarterback Matthew Stafford. The 34-year-old is entering the final year of his deal, making $23 million for the 2022 season. He will likely receive a significant pay increase to keep him in the fold for the next several campaigns.

Given Snead’s history of maneuvering around the team’s salary-cap space, he will likely find a way to make it possible to keep the group together.

Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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