Aaron Donald would not have returned to Rams if Sean McVay wasn’t head coach
Ahead of Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, there was speculation swirling between whether star defensive tackle Aaron Donald and head coach Sean McVay would return in 2022.
Donald avoided any speculation after their 23-20 victory over the Bengals, capturing their first ever title together, and the franchise’s second ever. McVay confirmed almost immediately after the game that he wouldn’t be retiring after his somewhat questionable comments during the Rams’ media week.
Donald ultimately signed a record-setting two-year extension early in the offseason, making him the highest paid defensive player in NFL History. But that might’ve turned out differently if McVay, who’s been the head coach since 2017, was no longer there.
“Not at all. Not at all,” Donald said on NFL Network when asked if he were to have returned if McVay wasn’t there. “If Sean ain’t here — I told Sean when he first got here. We came up with some things early and I first told him as long as he’s the head coach here, I want to continue to build my legacy with him.
“As long as he’s here and I got the ability to still play at a high level, I’m going to be here. When he’s gone and it’s all said and done, that probably will be when I’m hanging it up, too.”
Losing Donald would’ve been an unquestionable blow for the franchise. He’s totaled 441 combined tackles, 150 tackles-for-loss and 98.0 career sacks in his eight-year career with the Rams. He’s been at his best, however, under McVay’s tutelage — making first-team All-Pro five (of his eight) times, earning three of his four Defensive Player of the Year awards and leading the league in sacks once (20.5 – 2018) and tackles-for-loss twice (25 – 2018; 20 – 2019).
Donald tallied 84 combined tackles — a career-high — adding 12.5 sacks and 19 tackles-for-loss. The former 13th-overall pick has tallied at least 11 sacks in five straight seasons and at least 14 tackles-for-loss every year of his NFL career.
Now, the Rams are looked at as one of the favorites to get out of the NFC and win the Super Bowl. Could Donald and Co. be the first back-to-back champions since the Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons? Only time will tell.
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