Aaron Donald Measureables

Height: 6-1
Weight: 285
Age: 26
Experience: 4 seasons
Status: 5th Year Option
4-Time Pro Bowler; 3-Time 1st-Team All-Pro

Los Angeles Rams Projected Cap Space (Top 51): $39.9 million (per Over The Cap as of March 5*)

Aaron Donald Profile

Not only is Aaron Donald the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL, but he’s also one of the league’s best players, irrespective of position.

He’s an athletic force who lives in the offensive backfield. His quickness and first step are unmatched at the position. Donald possesses great strength and plays with natural leverage due to his height. He and Von Miller are the hardest players to account for in the NFL.

Equally dominant against the run and pass, Donald is one of the special defensive players that can’t be game planned for. His motor always runs hot, and he’s always around the football. He’s also yet to miss a game in his career.

The 2017 AP Defensive Player of the Year led all defensive tackles with 11.0 sacks. The Rams will have a hard time identifying weaknesses in Donald. He’s alleviated the size concerns he had in college, which were the only question marks surrounding Donald.

Aaron Donald Production

Season G Tack Sacks QBH Hurry Press TFL FF FR
2014 16 48 9 13 30 45 18 2 0
2015 16 69 11 37 43 80 22 0 1
2016 16 47 8 31 26 56 17 2 0
2017 14 41 11 27 34 58 15 5 1
Totals 62 205 39 108 133 239 72 9 2

Defensive Market

As defensive players approach the $20-million mark, Donald is the next of the NFL’s elite to reset the defensive market. There’s an argument for Donald being the best defensive player in the NFL. He’ll see that on his next paycheck.

Player Comparables: DEN Von Miller, MIA Ndamukong Suh, PHI Fletcher Cox

Contract Comparison

Player Year Age Total APY GTD F GTD 1st 3 ‘18 APY
Von Miller 2016 27 $114.5M $19.1M $70.0M $42.0M $61.0M $21.9M
Ndamukong Suh 2015 28 $114.4M $19.1M $60.0M $60.0M $60.4M $23.7M
Fletcher Cox 2016 26 $102.6M $17.1M $63.3M $36.3M $62.1M $19.6M
Averages 27  $110.5M  $18.4M  $64.4M  $46.1M  $61.2M  $21.7M

Contract information from OverTheCap.com

2018 Cap Adjusted Annual Salary: $21.7 million

Statistical Comparison (Two Year Averages Before Deal)

Donald’s production compares favorably to the league’s highest-paid defensive players, but Donald affects the game far more than he fills the stat sheet. His disruption has pushed plays into his teammates hands since he put on a Rams jersey.

Player Seasons Sacks Pressures Hurries QB Hits TFL  FF FR
Von Miller 2014-15 12.5 79.5 50.5 29.5 12.5 2.5 2.0
Ndamukong Suh 2013-14 7.0 65.0 45.5 20.0 15.0 0.5 0.0
Fletcher Cox 2014-15 6.8 58.3 43.0 13.5 9.5 2.0 2.5
Averages   8.8 67.6 46.3 21.0 12.3 1.7 1.5
Aaron Donald 2015-17 10.0 64.7 34.3 31.7 18.0 2.3 0.7


No disrespect to Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, but Aaron Donald is the best player on the Rams roster. Donald can’t be let go because he can’t be replaced. Although not unrestricted like Suh or even franchised like Miller, Donald’s game gives him all the leverage he needs to reset the market.

Salary Floor: $19 million per season

Miller and Suh’s contracts should serve as the salary floor for Donald’s new deal, with $19 million per as the anchor in negotiations.

Salary Ceiling: $21 million per season

At $21 million per season, Donald would be the 12th-highest paid player in the NFL, behind 11 quarterbacks. On the open market, he would get more, but he’s still at least two seasons away from that.

Contract Projection

Donald will be the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player when he signs his next contract. Working up from Suh and Miller, Donald becomes the first defensive player in NFL history to earn $20 million annually.

6 years, $120.0 million, $20 million APY, $60.0 million fully guaranteed

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