The addition of the fifth year on the rookie contract of a first-round pick was a part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. This allows the Rams to keep Donald under a deal for the next two seasons. His original contract was set at four years for $10.1 million with a $5.7 million signing bonus.
Since being selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Donald has developed in arguably the best defensive player in the league. In his first three years, he has quickly become a game-changer on the defensive line as he leads all defensive tackles in sacks (28.0), and tackles for loss (57.0). During this span, he ranks second in the NFL behind two-time Defensive Player of the Year Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt for tackles for loss.
Although he saw a drop in his sack total to just eight last season, Donald recorded 36 tackles, 31 hits on the quarterback, two forced fumbles, and a league-leading 17 tackles-for-loss. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 82 quarterback pressures, which was five more than any other interior defensive lineman and was tied for second-most in the NFL behind just 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Yeardefensive end
The decision to exercise the fifth year on Donald's deal will provide the Rams will more time to work out a new long-term deal for the three-time Pro Bowler. General manager Les Snead had stated back prior to the NFL Combine that an extension for the 25-year-old is "definitely" in their future plans. He could be in line to land a lucrative deal that could rival the five-year, $100 million
Heading into his fourth year, Donald will switch to the 3-4 defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for the first time since his sophomore year at Pittsburgh. In light of that, the two-time All-Pro selection earlier this week voiced much excitement for the changes defensively ahead under Phillips.
“I got to come here during the offseason and go to sit down and talk with him," Donald said. "I like his game plan and how he’s going to use us, and the position he’s going to put us in to have success, and try to make plays, and try to win games.”