LOS ANGELES -- Defensive tackle Aaron Donald will be the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL for the second time in his career. And coach Sean McVay is thrilled Donald is getting paid and continuing his career with the Los Angeles Rams.
"He's earned it," McVay said on Monday afternoon on SiriusXM radio. "And he truly is one of one in my opinion. Means so much to me, to our organization. I think the respect that he's garnered around this league from guys that have done it at such a high level. What he's accomplished through his eight years is unparalleled.
"[We] wanted to be able to find a solution to getting him taken care of, having him continue to lead the way for our team, for our defense. We had a feeling it was trending in the right direction when he was at my wedding on Saturday night."
Donald has been the face of the franchise since the team moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles, and by reworking his contract, the Rams have given Donald the opportunity to finish his career with the organization and potentially win another Super Bowl. The deal gives Donald a $40 million raise over the final three years of his existing contract, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter, making him the first non-quarterback to eclipse $30 million per season. The contract is structured in such a way that Donald can either retire or return for the 2024 season for an additional $30 million guaranteed, sources told Schefter.
Donald's résumé seems endless: three Defensive Player of the Year awards, Defensive Rookie of the Year, first-team All-Pro for seven straight seasons. And now, a Super Bowl ring.
Donald is more than 100 pass rush wins ahead of anyone else in the NFL over the past five seasons, despite being double-teamed at the highest rate in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Nobody else in the top eight on the pass rush win leaderboard over that span is even remotely close to Donald's double-team rate.
And Donald played big when it mattered most. He had two sacks against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl and his nine pass rush wins in that game are tied for the most by any player in a Super Bowl since that stat became available during the 2017 season, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
"[He is] the exact epitome of what you're looking for," McVay said. "The way he goes about his process, his rhythm and routine, the football character he has, his ability to communicate, his ability to elevate others -- that's where I really think he took a step, where this guy is so complete. There were a couple different moments, especially in that playoff run, where Aaron was more vocal.
"And it's not by mistake that I think our team was able to do that with him as a big, big piece of that puzzle of what was right about the 2021 Rams."
With minicamp beginning on Tuesday and Donald officially re-signed after contemplating retirement, the Rams can set their sights on being the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots did it in 2003 and '04.
"We don't really talk about repeat," McVay said. "It's, 'Hey, be the best version of 2022.'
"We're not defending anything. Everybody is 0-0 as we start this season and we know because of what happened last year, it's going to be that much more difficult. ... You always have to be able to evolve; you always have to be able to adapt."
Not long after Donald signed his contract, the Rams posted a video in which the pass-rusher says, "I'm locked back in. Let's go get us another ring. Why not?"
With Donald remaining under contract, McVay and the Rams know they are at the top of the Super Bowl contenders list.