II: Reworking Aaron Donald’s contract
Is cutting a huge check for a perennial All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald underrated? I think so. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that the news has been hushed. Quite the opposite in fact. The news of the LA Rams reaching an agreement to make Aaron Donald the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback splashed virtually every headline at its inception.
But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about the value of doing so, and why the reason to do so by the LA Rams has not been much of the story so far.
The Aaron Donald effect is common knowledge among anyone remotely associated with the LA Rams. It describes the significant uptick in a player’s statistically measured defensive production that occurs when that player lines up next to Aaron Donald. The latest player to benefit from that effect is OLB Von Miller.
AD paid to rejuvenate the careers of other NFL players
The fact is that Donald watched players arrive, get a boost in their numbers, and then sign lucrative deals to play elsewhere. It was both disappointing and frustrating to the guy who shows up to put out his best effort in each game, only to watch the turnstile spin as veterans arrived, padded their numbers, and then signed elsewhere to earn big bucks.
By putting AD atop the NFL pay scale, Donald is not only paid well but appreciated. For a player at his elite level, that appreciation is worth coming back for another season, or two, or three, to endure. Donald is a dominating defensive player in the NFL. By renegotiating his contract, the LA Rams eliminated any distractions preventing him from dominating again this season.