Aaron Donald Retires As Perhaps The Most Successful And Richest Defensive Tackle Ever


Aaron Donald is a menace on the football field. The defensive tackle has made the Pro Bowl in all ten of his seasons, earning All-Pro status in eight and Defensive Player of the Year in three. He set a record with 20.5 sacks in the 2018 season, finishing with 111 total in 154 games throughout his career. He also had 176 tackles for loss, 24 forced fumbles, 21 pass deflections, and seven fumble recoveries. And to add a nice cherry on top, he won the Super Bowl in 2021.

Donald, who turns 33 in May, can now look back fondly on his career. He announced today that he’s retiring from the NFL. He was still among the best defensive players in the league, and while he had mulled retirement over the past few offseasons, this news is still quite the shock.

Beyond his on-field accolades, Donald will go out as one of the richest defensive players ever. He made $157,114,238 over his ten seasons, which puts him at 13th all-time in career earnings among NFL players. Only Von Miller and Ndamukong Suh made more money, and they each had to play three more seasons than Donald did.

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In a statement, Donald said he had “given my everything to football both physically and mentally.” He added that he “respected this game like no other” and was glad he could retire with the same team that drafted him, a rarity in today’s NFL.

After the Rams selected Donald with the 13th pick in 2014, he signed a four-year, $10.1 million contract. He quickly showed his value on the field, and the Rams rewarded him with a six-year contract worth $135 million. That deal included $86.9 million in guaranteed money. Donald and the Rams reworked the contract in 2022 for salary cap purposes, giving Donald $95 million — all guaranteed — through the 2024 season. The Rams and Donald may ultimately settle on payment for the 2024 season; even if he walks away with nothing, Donald will still have had an incredibly lucrative career.

At least one person is happy to see Donald ride off into the sunset. Take a look at what Kyler Murray — whose Arizona Cardinals play the Rams twice a year — had to say in response to Donald’s announcement:

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