Rams DT Aaron Donald Passes Steelers OLB T.J. Watt As NFL’s Highest Paid Defensive Player

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald will not be retiring anytime soon after becoming highest paid defensive player in the NFL on Monday. He will now overtake Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt as the NFL’s highest paid defensive player and non-quarterback once he signs the new deal.

According to several reports on Monday, Donald is getting a $40 million raise as a result of the new deal he’s agreed to sign and is now scheduled to get $95 million over the next three years.

This is not an extension for Donald, who had still had three years and $55 million left on his old deal. He is now guaranteed $65 million over the course of the next two seasons (2022-2023) and can earn $30 million more in 2024 should he still decide to play.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Donald, a University of Pittsburgh product, will receive a $25 million signing bonus as part of this new deal he’s set to sign. His new 2022 base salary will be $1.5 million and that is fully guaranteed. His $5 million roster bonus that was already in place is also fully guaranteed.

In 2023, Donald is set to receive a fully guaranteed roster bonus on the second day of the 2023 league year and that is also fully guaranteed. His 2023 base salary is now scheduled to be $13.5 million, which is guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed as of third day of 2023 league year.

In 2024, Donald is scheduled to receive another $5 million roster bonus that will be guaranteed for injury at signing and become fully guaranteed on third day of 2023 league year. A 2024 base salary of $30 million will be available to him if still on the Rams roster come the fifth day of that league year. That would be paid to him with $20 million serving as an option bonus and $10 million as base salary, for cap purposes, according to Florio.

Donald is now the first non-quarterback to pass the $30 million per year threshold. As a result of him signing his new deal, Donald’s 2022 salary cap charge is expected to go from $26.75 million to $24 million.

As for Watt, who was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2021, he is now the league’s second highest paid defensive player at $28,002,750.

Unless they play in this year’s Super Bowl, the Steelers won’t play the Rams again until sometime during the 2023 regular season. That meeting will take place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

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