#Rams #shut #Aaron #Donald
Never missing a game due to injury during his first eight NFL seasons, Aaron Donald is almost certain to miss six during this campaign. The Rams are likely to shut down the all-time great, who is battling a high ankle sprain.
Sean McVay ruled out Donald for the team’s Christmas Day game against the Broncos and said it is unlikely the seven-time All-Pro suits up again this season. Donald will join Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp among the high-profile Rams likely to be shelved for the rest of the season.
Donald did make the Pro Bowl — er, the set of activities that now comprise that event — this week, making him 9-for-9 in such achievements. Only eight other players in NFL history — Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Franco Harris, Merlin Olsen, Mel Renfro, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas, and future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas — have accomplished that feat. But this will still end as a rather disappointing season for Donald, who has two more years remaining on his landmark extension.
This will wrap Donald’s age-31 season with just five sacks — his career-low tally by four — and 11 QB hits, which is also a career-low total. The Rams bet a lot on Donald, Stafford, and Kupp this offseason. While the early returns were not good, it can be safely assumed on the Donald front the team will receive a reasonably good return on its investment. The Pitt alum is the best defensive player of his era and, as evidenced by Super Bowl LVI, displayed the capability at 30 of taking over games on the highest of stages.
The Rams gave Donald a three-year, $95M deal in May, doing so after he repeatedly mentioned retirement. While that was partially aimed at getting the Rams to pay him in line with his monstrous production, after a few edge rushers had surpassed his 2018 deal, the nine-year veteran did send the team a retirement letter this offseason. He is tied to a $26M cap number next season. The Rams guaranteed Donald’s 2023 money, but his 2024 cash is nonguaranteed. The sides will be able to huddle up after next season, placing more emphasis on the likes of Stafford and Kupp turning in healthy seasons to capitalize on the back end of Donald’s prime.