LOS ANGELES - After weeks of speculation about potential retirement, it looks like Aaron Donald will return for the 2022 NFL season after he and the Los Angeles Rams restructured his contract to make him the highest-paid non-quarterback of all time, according to multiple reports.
Donald has three years left on his current contract, and was scheduled to make just under $10 million in 2022. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the restructured deal will give the seven-time All-Pro tackle an additional $40 million over his next three seasons.
According to Rapoport, the restructuring didn't add any years to Donald's current contract, which goes through the 2024 season. Donald will be guaranteed $65 million over the next two seasons and $95 million through the 2024 season.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the new money will make Donald the first non-quarterback to average more than $30 million a year, eclipsing the mark set by the previous highest-paid defensive plater, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt and his average $28 million per year.
There's been a lot of speculation as to whether Donald would return to the Rams in 2022, starting all the way back during the Super Bowl broadcast, when former NFL defensive back Rodney Harrison mentioned Donald told him 2021 could be his last season.
"We built a super-team," Donald said. "[If] we can bring the super-team back, why not run it back?"
Donald had expressed wanting to return to the team if key players like Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. stayed as well, but Miller has since signed with the Buffalo Bills, Beckham is currently unsigned.
Just three weeks ago though, ESPN reported that Donald was still seriously mulling retirement if his contract restructuring wasn't successful.
The Rams will look to repeat as Super Bowl champs in 2022 with Aaron Donald as the crowning jewel of the defense. They open up the season at home in Inglewood against Miller and the Bills on Sept. 8.