Aaron Donald’s contract details, salary cap impact, and bonuses

What is the situation regarding Aaron Donald's contract, and what is his salary cap impact for the Rams in 2022 and beyond?

After getting his hands on the Lombardi Trophy in 2022, Aaron Donald’s contract and salary cap impact on the Rams immediately came into sharp focus. Discussions of his imminent retirement turned to talks of a long-term extension that has slowly crept towards being done. Let’s examine Donald’s contract and his salary cap impact for the Rams in 2022 and beyond.

Aaron Donald’s contract details and bonuses

It seems odd to be discussing a contract extension for a 31-year-old who still has three years on a deal that could pay him more than $50 million in the next three seasons. However, with none of the remaining money guaranteed, it certainly makes sense that both Donald and the Rams would discuss a contract adjustment.

Donald signed his previous six-year deal with one year remaining on his rookie contract. That contract was worth $22.5 million a year. Of the $135 million in total, $40 million came in the form of a signing bonus with $50 million fully guaranteed and $86.9 million in total guarantees. The final of those guarantees ended in 2021.

Donald has three years remaining on his contract

Donald’s rookie deal was set to keep him with the Rams through 2018. Therefore, the six-year extension moved that out to 2024, with free agency potentially beckoning in 2025 at 34 years old. It will be intriguing to see how many years an extension adds on with that age-34 figure in mind.

How much does Donald count against the Rams’ salary cap?

Without the extension, Donald will cost $26.75 million against the Rams’ cap as it stands. However, they can move around a decent portion of that and spread the cap numbers over future years if they wish. Currently, $9.25 million is in base salary, with $5 million as a roster bonus. All but around $1.2 million of that could be converted to a signing bonus if the Rams desired.

The remaining part of Donald’s cap number comes in the form of prorated bonus money. There is the last year of the prorated signing bonus, counting for $8 million in 2022. Additionally, there is $4.5 million from a restructure paid last year.

If Donald had retired, he would have left behind $26.5 million in dead money. The Rams would likely have managed to spread it over two years with a post-June 1 designation. Doing so would have seen them carry a $12.5 million cap number in 2022, followed by $9 million in 2023.

The basis for any extension will be the $15 million in roster bonuses and more than $37 million in base salary Donald is due to earn in the next three seasons. Yet, a player of Donald’s caliber earning $52 million over three years is a great value. Expect the Rams to give him a good raise and guarantee plenty of capital for their superstar defender.

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