Aaron Donald 'at peace' with career if no deal with Los Angeles Rams reached

Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald says he'd be "at peace" with his career if he and the Los Angeles Rams can't agree to a new contract.

The Rams have acknowledged that they are working on a new contract with Donald, who is signed through the 2024 season but has no guaranteed money left on his deal. At the annual league meeting in March, Rams coach Sean McVay said that he was relieved that Donald had decided to return for the 2023 season. However, on the "I Am Athlete" podcast, Donald indicated that his return is contingent on getting a new deal.

"It ain't about the money, it's a business at the end of the day," Donald, 31, said on the podcast hosted by former NFL players Brandon Marshall, Adam "Pacman" Jones and LeSean McCoy. "That's what you've got to see. For me, it's about winning. I don't want to play football if I can't win anyway, so I feel like ... if I got a real opportunity to win another Super Bowl, then it makes sense to play. But again, it's still a business. We've got to handle the business side of things, and if that wasn't to get handled then, you know, it is what it is type of situation. I'll be fine regardless."

Last season was Donald's eighth in the NFL, and he said on the podcast that he had always discussed retiring after eight seasons. He said winning a Super Bowl has nothing to do with his decision.

"But me talking about retirement, that was happening way before we won a Super Bowl. I've been saying that since I got into the league that I was going to play eight years and be done. That's just what I've been saying. It just came out and then everybody think that, 'Oh, he said if he wins a Super Bowl he's going to retire.' Nah, I got teammates, coaches, my family who know about this. I said I'm going to play eight years, and I'm going to probably be done playing football," he said.

"But winning a Super Bowl, you get kind of a little addicted to it. I want to feel that again. I ain't going to lie, that experience is like none other. If I was to play, it's just to win another Super Bowl, but at the end of the day, it's still a business and it got to make sense to me and my family."

Donald, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, said on the podcast that he doesn't "need to play football to be fine."

"I was blessed to play this game, to make the money I made, the accomplishments I made in eight years is, like, I'm complete. If I can win another one, that's great. But if not, I'm at peace," he said.

Donald said he and the Rams "probably" will work out a deal, but if one can't be reached, he won't walk away "mad."

On Wednesday, McVay said Donald's comments on the podcast were "not any new information" to the Rams.

"We've had great dialogue," McVay said. "The goal all along has been to try to get this thing figured out, but ... If there's anyone that has earned the right to be able to make the decision on their own terms after what he's done, what he's meant to me, our team, it's Aaron."

McVay said talks with Donald on a new contract were "trending in the right direction."

"The goal is to get a contract done that he feels good about, that we feel good about and have him continue to do his thing for the Rams, leading the way," McVay said, adding that Donald will be at his wedding this weekend.

"... so he better be at the (mandatory) minicamp (next week), right?" McVay said with a chuckle.