Aaron Donald has spent the last eight years hunting down quarterbacks and making their lives incredibly difficult on a weekly basis. Now, he’ll finally make the same type of money they are.
The Rams rewarded Donald on Monday with a new three-year contract, ripping up the final three years of his previous deal. Rather than making $55 million over the next three seasons, Donald now has the chance to earn $95 million through 2024.
That’s a $40 million raise, and he deserves every penny of it.
On his new contract, Donald will earn $31.6 million per year. That makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history, surpassing Tyreek Hill and his $30 million per year salary. He’s also the first defender ever to eclipse $30 million per year, edging out T.J. Watt ($28 million).
What’s amazing is that Donald still isn’t one of the 10 highest-paid players in the NFL. On this new deal, he still doesn’t crack the top 10. Jared Goff, coincidentally, is 10th in the NFL in annual salary at $33.5 million per year, which is from the contract the Rams gave him in 2019. Even Carson Wentz, who’s 11th in annual salary, makes more than Donald; Wentz makes $32 million per year.
That means Donald is the 12th-highest-paid player in the league, which is respectable but still doesn’t do him justice for the dominant player that he is.
With all that he’s accomplished in the NFL, and it’s a long list, Donald deserved to be paid what many of the top quarterbacks are getting. He didn’t quite reach Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott’s contracts, which pay them $40 million per year, but he’s earning top-end quarterback money now.
He’s within striking distance of Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins at $35 million per year. Previously, Donald was only making $22.5 million per year, which was 27th in the NFL. There were truly no quarterbacks in that range, with Jimmy Garoppolo being the closest at $27.5 million per year.
It’s also important to note the figures beyond just his annual salary. Donald gets $65 million guaranteed in the next two years, and he can increase that total to $95 million by returning for his 11th season in 2024; he’ll earn $30 million if so.