Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Donald agrees to record deal with Rams


All-pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald agreed to a massive new contract with the Los Angeles Rams on Friday, ending his second consecutiv­e preseason holdout as the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

The Rams announced a new six-year deal through 2024 for Donald, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year.

ESPN and the NFL Network reported the new deal is worth $135 million over six years, with a $40 million signing bonus and $87 million guaranteed. Donald is already under contract this season for $6.89 million in the final year of his rookie deal.

Donald was chosen for the Pro Bowl after each of his four NFL seasons. The 27-year-old Pitt product is the centerpiec­e of the Rams’ defense and one of the NFL’s most dominant linemen, demonstrat­ing remarkable effectiven­ess against the run and the pass.

Donald was a key component of Los Angeles’ extraordin­ary one-year turnaround under rookie coach Sean McVay in 2017.

With Donald leading their defensive efforts under veteran coordinato­r Wade Phillips, the Rams won their division for the first time since 2003 and ended the franchise’s streaks of 13 consecutiv­e non-winning seasons and 12 straight non-playoff seasons.

But Donald also took a hard line in negotiatin­g his football future. He skipped the past two training camps and preseasons while seeking a new contract, and he also skipped the Rams’ entire off-season program this year.

He didn’t report last year until the day before the regular season opener, forcing him to miss the Rams’ first game. He still earned recognitio­n as the NFL’s top defensive player despite playing in only 14 games, racking up 11 sacks and 41 tackles while forcing five fumbles for the NFC West champions. He also led the NFL with 91 quarterbac­k pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

Texans cut punter: The Houston Texans released veteran punter Shane Lechler just before what would have been his 19th NFL season.

Lechler was let go after the Texans decided to go with undrafted rookie Trevor Daniel.

The 42-year-old Lechler spent the first 13 years of his career with the Raiders before joining the Texans in 2013.

He started 206 games for Oakland and never missed a game as a Texan, making all 80 starts in his five seasons with the team.

Coach Bill O’Brien said making the final cuts to the roster are always hard, but that this one is particular­ly difficult.

“Shane Lechler’s one of the best pros I’ve ever been around,” O’Brien said. “And if you look back at kind of who I’ve been around, I’ve been around some good pros, and he’s one of the best.”

Lechler, a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2000, was a seventime Pro Bowler and was first-team allpro six times.

Falcons-Patriots trade: The Atlanta Falcons traded a conditiona­l 2020 draft pick to the New England Patriots for safety Jordan Richards.

Richards started five of 16 games in 2017 and had 22 tackles with New England. He was a second-round draft pick by New England in 2015. He played in 41 games, with seven starts, in his three seasons with the Patriots.

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