Former Panther Aaron Donald gets big raise, becomes highest paid defensive player in NFL history

By Dalton Coppola, Sports Editor

Head coach Pat Narduzzi’s pitch to defensive line recruits just got a whole lot stronger. Pitt alumnus and defensive lineman Aaron Donald signed the most lucrative deal for a defensive player in NFL history on Monday. The Rams are giving Donald a $40 million raise, and he will make $95 million total in his contract that will run through 2024.

Since the Rams selected Donald No. 13 overall in 2014, the former Panther has dominated in the trenches. He has garnered three Defensive Player of the Year awards on top of being named an All-Pro in every campaign outside of his rookie year — in which he won Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Donald has registered 98 sacks in the NFL on top of 285 solo tackles. But the former Panther reached the pinnacle of his career when he and the Rams won the Super Bowl this past season. Donald said he wants to win another Super Bowl with the Rams now that he’s locked in for three more years.

“I’m locked back in to go get us another ring,” Donald said. “Getting the chills thinking about it. Let’s get to work.”

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, Donald was just a three-star recruit coming out of high school. Donald decided to stay home and play for the Pitt Panthers. He later left Pitt after the 2013 season to play in the NFL, but recently finished his undergraduate degree in communications in 2020.

Donald played in 51 games and started in 30 games for Pitt, registering 29.5 sacks and 181 total tackles over his time at Pitt. Donald earned national praise in 2013, his final season at Pitt, when he was a unanimous First-Team All-American and won the Bronko Nagurski award — the award given to the top defensive player in the country.

Donald and the Rams will have the summer to keep working towards their shared goal of winning another Super Bowl this season. The NFL season will kick off with the Rams facing off against the Bills on September 8.