With Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald signing a new deal, here is a brief history to place this signing in context of the bull market of the NFL.
Fans got what they wanted Friday as the news spreads that All-Pro DT and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald signed a six year contract extension. (Pro Football Talk has the full details of the contract here.) This contract situation had led him to hold out last year missing the first game of the season and this year as well, missing training camp. Both sides were able to agree to a deal that will have Donald on the field for week one in Oakland.
Here are a few points to consider regarding this deal and the recent history in the NFL.
- This is a time that business gets done! In the same week QB Aaron Rogers signs the largest contract extension in NFL history, Odell Beckham Jr. signs the largest WR contract in NFL history, and Aaron Donald signs the largest contract for a defensive player in NFL history. Right before the season starts is a busy time in the front office, and then when the first kickoff happens, the focus shifts to football. Could the Rams work out another extension in the next week? Candidates: CB Marcus Peters, S Lamarcus Joyner.
- Donald signed for more than expected a year ago. I wrote an article last year that predicted that Donald’s deal would be just under what OLB Von Miller had signed for in 2016 ($114.5 Million total, $19M/year avg). As it turns out, the deal surpasses it by over $3 million per year (avg). That is the difference a year makes. The longer the player waits to sign and the closer they get to unrestricted free agency, the higher the numbers go.
- Remember when DT Ndamukong Suh signed the massive deal with the Dolphins? It was because he was an unrestricted free agent. By comparison, the Rams were smart to sign RB Todd Gurley, WR Brandin Cooks, and RT Rob Havenstein early. Gurley, for example, despite the unprecedented numbers for a running ack, set the market for future star running backs. If Snead and company had waited two years to sign Gurley, they price would have been higher.
- The NFL is still huge. Despite the concern over head injuries and terrible rules about tackling that have fan screaming about a diminished product, the NFL remains healthier and more lucrative than ever. Consider the of the 100 most watched telecasts in 2017, 71 were NFL games. 71! That is what dominance of a market looks like, folks.
- Lastly, the Rams shrewdness in signing Donald and the other stars mentioned frees them up to deal with the other looming free agents. This has some analysts praising the Rams as the most well set up team not only this year, but long term, to compete for a Lombardy Trophy. How do you engage an LA Fan base? Sign a young exciting head coach. Draft, trade for, and sign talented players. Score points. Build a hard hitting defense. Win games. Advance in the playoffs. The Rams are doing all of these things.
Enjoy this, Rams fans. It is a good day.