Rams exercise fifth-year option on defensive tackle Aaron Donald

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has amassed 28 sacks en route to three consecutive Pro Bowl selections.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

In one of the most predictable moves of the off-season, the Rams exercised their fifth-year option on defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the team announced Wednesday.

Donald has been one of the NFL’s most dominant players since the Rams selected him with the 13th pick in the 2014 draft from Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-1, 285-pound Donald has amassed 28 sacks en route to three consecutive Pro Bowl selections.

Donald, 25, originally signed a four-year, $10.1-million contract that included a $5.7-million signing bonus. He is due to earn about $3.2 million this season, according to


Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, teams have the option of adding a fifth year to first-round rookie contracts after a player’s third season. The fifth year is guaranteed for injury. For players selected with the 11th through 32nd picks, the fifth-year salary is the average of the third through 25th highest salaries for a player’s position.

Last year, that figure was just over $6.1 million for defensive tackles.

But Donald is probably in line to receive a new contract well before he gets to his fifth season, one that could make him among the league’s highest-paid defensive players.

General Manager Les Snead all but said as much in February during the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

“Let’s be honest here,” Snead told reporters. “Aaron’s probably sitting pretty right now.”

Asked about a possible extension for Donald, Snead said: “It’s definitely coming. The guy deserves a raise, there’s no doubt. Whether he gets a raise or not, he’s going to show up, do the things he does. But that’s coming.”

Donald flourished in his first three seasons playing in a 4-3 defensive scheme. He said this week that he was looking forward to playing in new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.

“I’m comfortable wherever he puts me,” Donald said. “Like I always say, ‘rushing the passer – it doesn’t matter if it’s outside, inside, nose tackle, I can do it.’ I did it before, so I’m just comfortable wherever he puts me.”

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