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#pounditMonday, October 3, 2022

Aaron Donald worries Rams fans with latest talk about retirement

Aaron Donald during a game

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) before Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald did not rule out retirement after the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, but most people have assumed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year will be back next season. Donald insists that is not a guarantee.

Donald spoke about his future during a recent appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast. He indicated that he only wants to continue playing if he has an opportunity to contend for championships, which the Rams would obviously provide. Donald also seemingly confirmed that he is seeking a contract when he said the NFL is “still a business.”

“I’ll be fine regardless, 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 I was going to play eight years and be done,” Donald said, as transcribed by Bleacher Report’s Erin Walsh. “That’s just what I’ve been saying. … 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.

“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.”

The message from Donald sounds fairly simple — he will keep playing as long as his contract demands are met. A recent report claimed he has a specific contract figure in mind and is willing to walk away if he is not paid that much.

Donald, 30, is already the highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL with an average annual salary of $22.5 million. He’s just outside the top five highest-paid defensive players overall. TJ Watt reset the market with the four-year, $112 million extension he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year.

The Rams have already failed to meet two of Donald’s offseason demands, though that is unlikely to be a deciding factor. We still believe Donald will play in 2022, but L.A. is obviously going to have to show him the money.

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