Aaron Donald Is The NFL’s Highest Paid Non-QB And There’s A Case He’s Still Underpaid

Aaron Donald is one very happy dude right now because Monday evening he locked in to a reworked contract that is now scheduled to pay him $95 million over the next three years, which is about a $40 million raise.

That makes Donald the NFL’s first non-quarterback averaging over $30 million per season.

And that figure was unfathomable even a couple of years ago. But Donald has hit it and it’s likely others will follow.

The Los Angeles Rams knew they needed to make this deal to keep Donald from possibly retiring. And they knew they needed Donald to try to “run it back,” as they’ve been saying about a defense of the Super Bowl title.

And one more: The Rams may have gotten something of a bargain. Because it can be argued Donald is still underpaid compared to the NFL’s highest paid players.

Consider the list of the league’s highest-paid quarterbacks and see if Donald isn’t more valuable than several on the list ….

Aaron Rodgers ($50.27M): He spent the early part of offseason pondering retirement. And lately he’s been talking about retirement, saying “I can see the end coming.” It suggests he’s not fully focused which is kind of how he plays every time the playoffs begin.

Deshaun Watson ($46M): He hasn’t played since 2020 and there’s no guarantee he’ll play this season because 24 women have now filed lawsuits claiming sexual misconduct and at this point it would be surprising the NFL’s investigation doesn’t result in an suspension causing logical people to wonder if the $230 million contract the Cleveland Browns gave him was worth it.

Patrick Mahomes ($45M): Zero issues with this salary or contract. None. He’s great. Next.

Josh Allen ($43M): Zero issues with this salary but only so far. He did everything he could to get his team into the AFC Championship game last year — throwing, like 9 TDs in two playoff games — but the defense let the Bills down. Now the Buffalo organization is starting to suffer brain drain, with Joe Schoen becoming the general manager of the New York Giants and former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll joining him. What you got now, Josh?

Derek Carr ($40.47M): I get it, he’s never won a playoff game. But the Raiders’ defense has been atrocious for nearly a decade. Last year the coach got fired, the speed receiver went to prison after a fatal DUI offense, a starting slot cornerback was also arrested for DUI, and the general manager got fired, And it was Carr who largely kept the tent from collapsing on the circus.

It says something that Davante Adams wanted to leave Green Bay and Rodgers to go play with Carr, who is his friend. Carr is overpaid for his QB skills alone but his intangible worth is priceless.

Dak Prescott ($40M): He’s great with tons of talent around him. Can he be as great with less talent around him this coming season? Someone with that salary should be able to carry the team and not just be part of the load.

Matthew Stafford ($40M): Yeah, um, the Rams won the Super Bowl the first year they traded for Stafford. End of discussion.

Kirk Cousins ($35M): Love him as a person. Appreciate what he stands for and his work ethic. But this salary is asylum crazy.

Russell Wilson ($35M): He believes he’s underpaid. If he gets the Denver Broncos deep into the playoffs, they’re likely to agree once the season is over.

Jared Goff ($33.5M): No. Just, no.

Carson Wentz ($32M): So maybe the Philadelphia experiment wasn’t his fault. But when Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich, who knew Wentz best and basically put his reputation on the line to acquire him, gave up on him after one season, that raises eyebrows. So, no.

Donald: ($31.66M): Defensive player of the year in 2017, 2018 and 2020. Seven times an All Pro. His 150 career tackles for loss is ninth in league history. And when the Rams needed someone on defense to make a play to seal their Super Bowl victory last year, Donald delivered with a hurry on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

Donald is worth every penny.

He’s a better player and more of a difference maker than Wentz, Goff, and Cousins who are making more.

So is he paid handsomely now? Yes.

Is he still underpaid? Maybe.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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