The LA Rams deal to extend DL Aaron Donald was costly when signed, but proved to be the bargain that the team hoped for
The topic of NFL salary cap and team contracts is a familiar subject for the LA Rams. But fair is fair. The LA Rams extended defensive lineman Aaron Donald in 2018, making him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. That six-year, $135 million deal was a pretty significant risk. After all, the Rams chose to sign three other players to long term contracts as well: QB Jared Goff, WR Brandin Cooks, and RB Todd Gurley. Cooks and Gurley are gone, Goff is hoping for a return to his 2018 style of play.
But in the other three cases, the players did not perform their career bests, or even at their career averages. In their cases, their production plummeted, leaving the Rams on the hook to pay for top production with players who didn’t produce. All but Aaron Donald, who went out and performed his career-best. That’s just how Aaron Donal does things. He takes care of business with little to no fanfare and lets his play do his talking.
Aaron Donald bargain-priced
We previously asked earlier in the season if signing Aaron Donald to essentially a life-long contract would make sense? Why did we dare to pose the question while we still had Donald under contract for the foreseeable future? Simply because the cost of elite defensive linemen is going way up.
From the top-paid to the fourth-top-paid in two years? Life comes at you fast in the NFL. Now, what are the chances for the LA Rams re-signing their free agents in 2021 with these salary dollars flying around?
Cap driven decisions
The NFL keeps cutting huge checks for players, despite the salary cap almost certain to plunge to $175 million next year. While the Rams have taken steps in 2020 to ensure their 2021 salary cap no longer exceeds the projected NFL floor, the team does not have much room to wiggle around next season. So who gets the top priority?
Well, any free money from 2020 will carry over to 2021. So as cuts for the final 53 man roster begin, I am running counter to some of my colleagues in the belief that the Rams will in fact choose youth over veteran if it’s a close enough competition. We’ll discuss that in a future article, but the fact is that the Rams are driven hard at personnel decisions right now by the salary cap. For the time being, the Rams certainly had made the right choice by locking up Aaron Donald for the foreseeable future. Will the team be able to lock up other defensive stars? That’s a topic for tomorrow.