If Rams have a rough start, will Aaron Donald be available at the deadline?

The Rams continue to pay the mortgage on a Super Bowl they won two years ago. If 2024 gets off to a rocky start, it makes sense to keep an eye on the possibility that one of their biggest assets will be on the market.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald enters the second season of a three-year deal. The contract was specifically designed to facilitate a retirement, or maybe a trade, after two years.

The trade could, in theory, happen during the second year.

Look at the schedule. At Seattle. San Francisco. At Cincinnati. At Indianapolis. Philadelphia. Arizona. At Dallas.

The window on all trades closes on the Tuesday after the game against the Cowboys. If the Rams are 2-6 at that point, will Donald be available to a contender that comes calling?

If the Rams are looking at Donald retiring or being traded after the second half of the 2023 season anyway, why not trade him if the right offer rolls in at the deadline?

Much of it depends on what Donald would want. He didn’t retire after winning a Super Bowl in part because he wanted to win another. If it’s not going to happen with the Rams, why not go to a team that: (1) is in the conversation; (2) wants Donald; and (3) would become an even stronger contender with him?

The cap consequences don’t matter. The Rams are looking at a $48.5 million dead-money bill if he’s traded or retires before June 1. Trading him at some point before October 31 won’t change that.

What would it take to get him? How much would someone give for a half-year rental at a minimum, and perhaps a season and a half at the most?

it depends on who the contenders are and how many decide to try to make a run for him. It also depends on how much the Rams will want. During their Super Bowl run, they gave up a two and a three for a partial season with Von Miller. And it paid off. The Rams will surely point that out to anyone who would want Donald.

If he’s available. And that analysis starts with whether the Rams can win one or more of the games in the first eight weeks that look like looming losses.