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Longtime Seahawks nemesis Aaron Donald retires after 10 years

Mar 15, 2024, 10:04 AM

Seahawks Aaron Donald...

Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams is blocked by the Seahawks on Sept. 10, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Defensive lineman Aaron Donald has announced his retirement after a standout 10-year career with the Los Angeles Rams.

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The three-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year made his surprising announcement on social media Friday.

The 32-year-old Aaron Donald spent his entire career with the Rams, who drafted him in the first round in 2014. He was selected for 10 Pro Bowls and eight All-Pro first teams, and he won the award as the league’s top defensive player in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

“Throughout my career, I have given my everything to football both mentally and physically — 365 days a year was dedicated to becoming the best possible player I could be,” Donald said in a statement. “I respected this game like no other, and I’m blessed to be able to conclude my NFL career with the same franchise that drafted me. Not many people get drafted to a team, win a world championship with that team and retire with that team. I do not, and will not, take that for granted.”

Although smaller than many top defensive tackles, Donald used his extraordinary athleticism and game savvy to wreak havoc on offenses throughout his career. He was the cornerstone of every Rams defense during his career, drawing habitual double-teams away from his teammates and still racking up a franchise-record 111 sacks, third among active players. Donald was especially tough against the Seahawks as he recorded 17.5 sacks in 19 career games versus Seattle.

Donald reached the peak of his stardom after the Rams franchise moved from St. Louis back to Los Angeles in 2016. He had a career-high 20 1/2 sacks in 2018 on the way to his first Super Bowl appearance.

He then played a major role in the Rams’ run to a Super Bowl victory three years later, most famously applying the pressure that forced Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow to throw incomplete at midfield on the Bengals’ final play of Los Angeles’ 23-20 victory.

Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt are the only other players to win the defensive player of the year award three times.

Donald was slated to make over $34 million this season under the terms of a contract that was renegotiated nearly two years ago. Although Donald had reportedly flirted with retirement for the past two seasons in private, the Rams and Donald hadn’t publicly acknowledged his departure was a real possibility.

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Longtime Seahawks nemesis Aaron Donald retires after 10 years