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3 reasons why Aaron Donald's record contract will come back to haunt Rams

Los Angeles Rams Mandatory Minicamp
Los Angeles Rams Mandatory Minicamp
Hans Themistode

For essentially the past decade, Aaron Donald has gained tremendous fame for his ferocious speed and physicality. Although the Los Angeles Rams have sat back and smiled as Donald has continued to wreak havoc, this past offseason, the defensive tackle placed a hard squeeze on the team.

With a newly won Super Bowl ring on his finger, the veteran believed he had officially checked off the final box of his career. The next stop for Aaron Donald would be immortality and enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. However, despite openly flirting with the idea of hanging up his cleats and leaving the game for good, Donald decided against it, having inked a massive contract.

Considering his pedigree, immeasurable talent, and high level of productivity, the Rams had no qualms over making Donald the highest-paid non-QB ever, officially inking him to a deal worth $95 million over the next three seasons.

The joy for Rams fans could turn to sorrow, however, once this contract officially kicks in.

Here are three reasons why the Rams' current deal with Aaron Donald is one that they may live to regret.

#1 Uncharted territory

Los Angeles Rams Mandatory Minicamp.
Los Angeles Rams Mandatory Minicamp.

Aaron Donald is a freak of nature. His physicality at the line of scrimmage is unmatched and his vigour has forced opposing offenses to compensate extensively for him when scheming up for gameday. Regardless of the superlatives, even the best defensive players the game has ever seen haven’t been able to prolong their time near the top of the mountain.

Reggie White, J.J. Watt, Lawrence Taylor, along with a very small class of defensive players who play near the line of scrimmage, have all had a finite amount of time as the league’s best defenders.

At 30, Taylor's game and effectiveness quickly dissipated. Watt’s final great season came at the age of 29. White was a bit different. Although his final Pro Bowl and All Pro appearance came at 37 years of age, he was far removed from the pernicious pass rusher he built his Hall of Fame career on.

At 31, Aaron Donald has reached the age in which defensive tackles are rendered less effective. The future Hall of Famer will be 34 at the end of his newly signed contract, making it incredibly unlikely that he will remain the best player in the league.

#2 No Von Miller

NFC Championship - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Los Angeles Rams.
NFC Championship - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Los Angeles Rams.

Aaron Donald has always known that he is the focal point of an opposing team's game plan. In an effort to prevent him from wrecking games single-handedly, Donald often sees double teams at snaps. While he’s managed to have an indelible impact on the game, the addition of Von Miller last season made his life incredibly easy.

With defenses forced to compensate for Miller, Aaron Donald blasted through one-on-one matchups. However, the recent departure of Miller could have a lasting effect on Donald going forward.

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Without Miller, teams won’t be affording one-on-one matchups to Donald anymore. Instead, he’ll be forced to put his hand in the dirt and try to bulldoze through two defenders all year long. His capability to do this is undoubted. However, his longevity does become questionable.

During Super Bowl LIII, Aaron Donald was consistently fed double teams. He was held to zero sacks, zero tackles for loss, and five combined tackles as the Rams came up short against the New England Patriots.

Following the Rams' Super Bowl run, Miller unsurprisingly hitched his wagon to the Buffalo Bills, signing a six-year deal worth $120 million. His absence may not be noticed initially. However, the Rams will likely realize that the loss of Miller will affect Donald in a gigantic way.

#3 Subpar defenses at his peak

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals.
Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals.

For as great as Aaron Donald has been, it hasn’t translated to the Los Angeles Rams producing stellar defenses.

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Since entering the league in 2014, Aaron Donald has been named a Pro Bowler every year. With seven consecutive All-Pro selections under his belt, he’s now entered the conversation as the best defensive tackle ever.

Yet, only once (in 2020) have the Rams produced the best defense in the league. Outside of the pandemic year, Donald’s Rams finished no higher than 12th in points per game allowed.

LA’s inability to stop opposing teams from scoring at will could become even more pronounced as Donald ages. Is he a great defender and an all-time great? He is. However, standing on the back end of his career, his defensive impact in terms of stopping opposing teams from lighting up the scoreboard will only decline.


live poll LIVE POLL

Q. Will Aaron Donald hit the wall in 2022?

Yes, he's growing old.

No way. He's not showing signs of slowing.

84 votes so far

Edited by nicolaas.ackermann12

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