Aaron Donald to Browns?

Aaron Donald to Browns?

07 July, 2023

He might be traded before the trade deadline because the Los Angeles Rams appear to be quite awful this season. The Cleveland Browns might be a contender to land Donald.

It becomes obvious how easily the Los Angeles Rams might collapse this season once you look past their top three players, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford. That’s because the franchise mortgaged everything in the hopes of winning the Super Bowl, and they now appear to be more of an expansion team than a serious contender. In light of this, if the Rams falter, Donald becomes a trade candidate before the deadline, and the Cleveland Browns may be one of the clubs interested in acquiring him.

Fox Sports’ Jason McIntyre made five audacious predictions about the NFL this season. He probably made the safest forecast by picking the Rams. His other four predictions, though, are exceptional. For instance, he has the New Orleans Saints playing in the Super Bowl and the Pittsburgh Steelers competing in the AFC Championship.

“I can see them being one of the worst teams in the league, and thus they decide to pull the trigger and trade Aaron Donald, basically their only good defender. Look at the PFF stats for this defense — it is abysmal. I know that they won the Super Bowl going with the big Stafford, Kupp, Donald. But then everything fell apart. They lost Jalen Ramsey, their best cornerback, who basically shut down one side of the field. [They lose] their middle linebacker, Bobby Wagner, one of the best defenders on the team. They lose two of their top three defenders. I think you are in a window where this team … decides to just reboot and move on from Aaron Donald.” – Jason McIntyre

For the very same reasons that McIntyre outlines, this appears more like an inevitability than a bold prediction. Although Aaron Donald might make a case for being the finest defense in NFL history, he is unable to cover the other ten players. Although the NFC is undoubtedly the weaker conference, it will require significant improvement from the rest of that group in order for them to be respectable. Their best chance is a wildcard berth.

As long as their strong 2022 draft class doesn’t regress with a sophomore slump and Geno Smith can continue playing well, they won’t be able to defeat the San Francisco 49ers for the division title and the Seattle Seahawks have a much better team.

That doesn’t even touch on Matthew Stafford’s condition or the dubious offensive line that is keeping him safe. Since they are already trying to build for the future, the Rams are almost likely going to be terrible. 32 years old is Aaron Donald. He won’t be around for the Rams’ subsequent incarnation and offers little to the team beyond sentimental value.

Yes, it is possible to retire before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after spending your entire career with one team, as Browns fans saw with Joe Thomas. However, if Doanld wants to play for a team that is a contender, the Rams will be pleased to receive as much as they can in exchange to boost their present rebuilding efforts.

For this season, Donald will earn a basic salary of $13.5 million. That sum will decrease with each game he plays for the Rams. The Rams owe bonuses on every other provision of his contract. As a result, the Rams can trade him and get greater leverage in exchange.

The Browns are undoubtedly one of the clubs that might add Donald, though there may be other candidates as well. With Myles Garrett’s contract, they are expected to add more, and they have the freedom and the space to do so. They have draft picks and might even have young players if they wanted to.

A potential roadblock is not having a first-round pick in 2024, but they might give picks they will have in the future like the Rams did. They also have second and third round picks that, if required, they can package over a period of time.

The Browns’ final defensive puzzle piece would be Donald. Shelby Harris or Matthew Ioannidis are two veterans who the team should still sign, but neither would prevent the Browns from signing Donald. With Donald, the Browns are simply stronger overall.

Donald would have the chance to join a Browns defense that already includes Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, a former colleague of Donald’s. He would also be representing Jim Schwartz, a company that represents defensive linemen.

The Rams’ biggest concern may be having to play Donald and the Browns later in the season, in week 13 in Los Angeles. The Rams’ supporters would be able to watch Donald once more and the team wouldn’t be moving anywhere. The Rams are drawn to the idea since it would also involve trading him out of the conference.

It’s just one of many reasons why the Browns would be wise to avoid spending a lot of money on DeAndre Hopkins just because he’s a free agency. Hopkins could never match what Donald would accomplish for the Browns, even if obtaining him is unlikely.

The Rams starting Donald gives the Browns a chance to see how they perform over the same time period. Having games where Deshaun Watson has performed in that capacity just aids them in their goal, if not for themselves than for Donald. They are as convinced as they are that he will regain his franchise quarterback form. The Browns also want to avoid suffering serious injuries that would render their pursuit of Donald pointless.

Although it’s still unlikely, every game the Browns win and the Rams lose further helps the Browns’ chances of landing Donald. However, if the Browns are able to stay afloat during the challenging early part of their season—both in terms of record and injuries—the addition of Donald might make them more than just a contender—and perhaps even the favorite—to win the Super Bowl.

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