Aaron Donald has done it all. He has three Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight Pro Bowls, seven All-Pros, one All-Decade honor, 98 career sacks and now a Super Bowl ring.
The Rams defensive lineman has joined Lawrence Taylor in the conversation for the greatest defensive player in history, and he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after his retirement.
Donald just turned 31, but he said he could leave after eight seasons without playing another down and be satisfied.
During his appearance on Brandon Marshall’s ‘I Am Athlete’ podcast, Donald said four times that he was “at peace” with his career.
Donald is not participating in team activities voluntarily organized by the team as he seeks a new contract, having exceeded the six-year, $125 million contract he signed in 2018.
“It’s not about the money, but it’s a business at the end of the day,” Donald said. “That’s what you need to see. For me, it’s about winning. I don’t want to play football if I can’t win anyway, so I feel like if I have a real opportunity to win another Super Bowl, then it makes sense to play. But again, it’s still a business. We have to manage the business side of things, and if it weren’t to be managed, you know, that’s the kind of situation. I’ll be fine no matter what.
“But me, speaking of retirement, that was happening long before we won a Super Bowl. I said that since I entered the league, I was going to play eight years and be done. That’s exactly what I said. He just came out and everyone thinks, ‘oh, he said if he won a Super Bowl, he’d retire.’ No, I have teammates, coaches, my family who know about it. I said that I will play eight years and that I will probably be done with football. But winning a Super Bowl gets you a bit addicted. I’m not going to lie. I want to feel that again. This experience is unlike any other. If I were to play, it’s just to win another Super Bowl, but at the end of the day, it’s still a business and it makes sense to me and my family.
Donald is expected to earn $14.25 million in 2022, which ranks him 102nd in the NFL, according to spotrac.com. His average of $22.5 million ranks 27th.
Donald admits the parties are “probably going to get away with it”, but he said he wouldn’t be mad if they didn’t.
“I don’t need to play football to be well. I’m fine,” Donald said. “I’ve been blessed to play this game, to win the money that I’ve won, the accomplishments that I’ve made in eight years is, like, I’m complete. If I can win another one, It’s great. But otherwise, I’m at peace.
Donald told NBC Sports studio analyst Rodney Harrison ahead of Super Bowl LVI that he would consider retiring if the Rams won. It looks like Donald will consider retiring if he doesn’t get a new contract, and the Rams will surely do what they have to do to convince him to keep playing.
Money, after all, talks.