Football World Reacts To Aaron Donald’s Stunning Retirement As The Rams Superstar Calls It A Career After 10 Seasons

Aaron Donald
Ryan Kang/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams have had a productive free agency, but their entire defense and the trajectory of their 2024 season has suddenly veered in a totally different direction with Aaron Donald deciding to retire.

Quite inarguably the greatest defensive player of his generation, Donald is right up there with the best interior pass-rushers in NFL history, if he’s not the best. He’ll turn 33 in May, and he kicked around retirement as early as the 2022 offseason after the Rams had won the Super Bowl. After missing six games in 2022 and putting together another solid season this past year, Donald has called it a career.

What a stunner this is. Even a version of Aaron Donald who’s lost a step or two is better than 95% of interior defensive linemen across the NFL. Other than Chiefs star Chris Jones, I don’t think there’s anyone better still playing right now at that general position. This comes, too, on the heels of the Rams surprising everyone last season by making the playoffs and giving the Lions a real run for their money on Wild Card Weekend.

Before diving into some of the bigger-picture takeaways about Donald’s sudden end to his career, here are some of the top reactions hitting social media.

I have a feeling LA’s brass wasn’t totally blindsided by this. Softening the blow somewhat was the excellent rookie season Kobie Turner put together. He’ll be leaned on to help the massive void filled by Donald, and you also have to wonder if the Rams will target somebody like Texas’ Byron Murphy II or Illinois standout Johnny Newton in the first round of the draft. One of them should be there when LA goes on the clock with the 19th pick.

GM Les Snead’s strategy in free agency makes even more sense in retrospect now that we know Donald is walking away. Snead just paid big money to keep guard Kevin Dotson in place, and shelled out for ex-Lions guard Jonah Jackson to create a triumvirate of beef along with Steve Avila in the offensive trenches.

We could see the Rams take some of the burden off veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford and play a more run-centric, ball-control style of offense by leaning on tailback Kyren Williams and those big dudes up front. That should help take some of the load off a defense who has to carry on sans Donald. I just doubt that without him, the Rams can truly challenge in the NFC West, never mind contend for a Super Bowl.

Nevertheless, congrats to Aaron Donald on a spectacular career. Never been more certain of a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my life who didn’t play quarterback.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock