NFL Rumors: How can this outrageous Bills trade scenario for Aaron Donald make headlines?

Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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NFL Rumors LA Rams Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald / David Eulitt/GettyImages

Why this trade won't work? Let me count the ways

Let's go back to the Verderame article. Here is how he justifies the LA Rams trading away Aaron Donald in 2023:

"Donald, 32, is entering the twilight of his career. He currently has two years left on his deal with the Rams, including cap hits of $26 million and $34.1 million before a void year in 2025. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is short on talent and long on needs." - per Matt Verderame

Okay so why won't this trade work? Let me count the ways:

III - Salary imbalance

The NFL does not have a trade simulator like the ESPN NBA Trade Machine or even better, the Fanspo NBA Trade Machine as a resource. If such a resource was available, it would nix this trade scenario before it got off the ground. Why? The LA Rams are walking a financial tightrope right now. If the Rams trade, release, retire, or change the status of any of their veteran players, the current financial path they are navigating gets washed away.

The 'savings' discussed above are entirely a mirage, as ending a contractual relationship with Aaron Donald immediately forces the Rams to recognize all of the various salary signing and restructure bonuses that are currently being spread into 2024-2026. In short, even a post-June-1 trade triggers an immense salary cap hit that pushes the Rams nearly $10 million into the hole in 2023. So what would the Rams get for that?

II - Talent imbalance

The Rams get an unremarkable rookie defensive line who the team will probably not re-sign, and may not even start this season in a highly competitive positional group. He will get snaps, sure. But is a part time contributor on par with an All-Pro defensive lineman? Oh, but the Buffalo Bills are tossing in a first round draft pick too. Let's value that pick.

With Donald on their roster, the Bills should get at least as far as the AFC Championship Game. At that point, the draft pick is no better than 29th overall. So the LA Rams must wait a year for the equivalent of an NFL second-round pick? Once that pick arrives, what odds do you place on the LA Rams finding just a starter with it? 60 percent? 75 percent? Even with the most optimistic scenarios, whoever is selected in the 2024 NFL Draft will likely not hit their stride until 2025. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have an All-Pro defensive lineman who is still at the top of his game.

I - Why would either team do this?

The incentive for the Buffalo Bills is obvious. Winning a Super Bowl takes a team willing to take a risk, and the Bills need to take those types of risks to win. While the 'package' seems light from the Bills when held up to the light, even that meager measure of value is something that many Bills fans are not too keen to put up in exchange.

Why would the LA Rams do this? They won't, and they have no reason to do so. Veteran defensive lineman is not injued. The 2023 NFL season has not even begun. And Aaron Donald has not demanded to be traded. Even the 'it will save the Rams $60 million' scenario today, as it will sink the Rams 2023 salary cap surplus into a (-$10 million) deficit.

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No, the LA Rams won't trade Aaron Donald. My apologies to any Buffalo Bills fans whose hopes of winning a Super Bowl were brightened at the thought. The LA Rams made their decisions of who goes and who stays long ago. Unfortunately for the Buffalo Bills, if they wanted to trade for Aaron Donald, the time for that sales pitch has long since expired.