Thus, the agent of the largest defensive intervention ever sent a message to the only team that Donald played with, the Rams, informing them of his decision to retire, according to several sources familiar with the situation.
The letter, which had been an unreported secret since it was sent, was written on “Athletes First” letterhead and addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Simply put, you mentioned that Donald has informed the Rams that he will retire effective May 9. It came with instructions to send it to the league office.
But the message was never sent to the NFL.
What happened next paved the way for Mega Contract Modification for Donald to commit to the Super Bowl for two more years. He’ll be on the field tonight against the Bills in the 2022 NFL Regular season opener (8:20 p.m. ET on NBC).
By then in May, contract talks with Donald, who was about to turn 31 and with three years remaining on his original six-year extension, $136 million, had stalled. His agent, Todd France at Athletes First, had pushed for a big raise but not new years on his deal – something that never happened to a defensive player, the biggest example of this being for an attacking player when he was the then Patriots quarterback. Tom Brady I have got 8 million dollars more in 2019.
What Donald and his camp sought was much greater than $8 million.
Contract negotiations looked bleak based on the opinions of everyone involved, and Donald appeared to have ended playing in the NFL. He’s accomplished everything one can possibly accomplish, with eight Pro Bowls, seven All-Pro picks, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and now a Super Bowl title.
Therefore, the message was sent to the rams, and Donald was at peace with his decision. The only caveat was this: Nahas Ramez, Donald and his agent set up Zoom the next day to discuss his contract. The letter remained unearthed until that meeting just to make sure there was nothing they could do. Meanwhile, the Rams had endless respect for Donald, no matter his decision, they simply wanted to know when and how to properly honor him for his stellar career.
Instead, there was a slightly encouraging conversation between Donald’s agent and the Rams and another date was scheduled. Then another. And another. Suddenly both sides are more encouraged by the possibility of striking an impossible deal.
Also, a major date looms on June 1. Had Donald’s retirement letter been submitted to the league at the time, it would have resulted in a $21.5 million salary cap in 2022 for the Rams. After June 1, $21.5 million became only $9 million. So, timing was important.
The idea of Donald’s retirement was very real. For both sides, however, continuing to talk makes sense. Having triggered Donald’s message, whether strategic or real, the parties had the time and window to get a new contract done.
Was Donald serious enough to retire? Could the rams have sent the letter? Was it a negotiating move aimed at giving a three-year-old player some leverage?
Nobody will know. But Donald’s position was taken with the necessary seriousness on all sides, and a deal was finally struck on June 6.
An increase of $40 million over three years — without adding new years — means Donald will earn $95 million over three years. An average salary of $31.6 million resets the market for all defensive players, but just looking at the average annual salary doesn’t tell the whole story of this unprecedented $40 million increase.
Essentially, a two-year commitment to the heroes, with a chance to play a third role if that makes sense. Thus, Donald will not retire.
Instead, he will play tonight.