Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, considered one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, has announced his immediate retirement from playing.

Donald, who turns 33 in May, played for 10 seasons in the NFL, all of them with the Rams, and helped the team win the Super Bowl in 2022.

“Cheers to what’s next,” Donald wrote on social media platform X. “Extending a big thank you to the Rams and all of the fans for your support.”

The timing of the announcement from Donald, one of three players to have been named the NFL’s defensive player of the year three times, has come as a surprise.

The Rams took Donald with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft and he was named defensive rookie of the year in his first season.

Donald helped the Rams reach the Super Bowl in 2019, only to suffer a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots, but they returned three years later and beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.

The eight-time All-Pro selection finishes his career with 117 sacks, having become the fastest defensive tackle to reach 100 sacks in NFL history.

“Throughout my career, I have given my everything to football both mentally and physically – 365 days a year was dedicated to becoming the best possible player I could be,” Donald added.

“I respected this game like no other and I’m blessed to be able to conclude my NFL career with the same franchise that drafted me. Not many people get drafted to a team, win a world championship with that team and retire with that team. I do not, and will not, take that for granted.”

Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald announced his retirement from the NFL on Friday, ending one of the most decorated careers in league history for a defensive player.

The three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year announced his decision on social media, thanking the Rams organisation and the Kroenke family.

“I’m thankful for the people I’ve met along the way, the relationships I’ve built and the things I’ve accomplished with my teammates and individually,” Donald said in his post.

Donald was drafted 13th overall in 2014 by the St. Louis Rams and was already one of the team’s best players when the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 2016.

Donald was selected to the Pro Bowl after each of his 10 NFL seasons, all with the Rams, and he was voted an All-Pro eight times. He was also a driving force in Los Angeles’ 2021 play-off run and had two sacks in the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m blessed to be able to conclude my NFL career with the same franchise that drafted me,” Donald said in his post. “Not many people get drafted to a team, win a World Championship with that team and retire with that team.

“I do not, and will not, take that for granted.”

At 6-foot-1 and 280 pounds, Donald fell in the draft due to his lack of size for an interior lineman, but his rare combination of quickness and strength made him a disruptive force almost immediately.

Donald was voted Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 after accumulating nine sacks and 18 tackles for loss in just 12 starts.

Donald was voted the league's top defender after the 2017, 2018 and 2020 seasons, and his 20.5 sacks in 2018 rank among the top 11 seasons ever for a pass-rusher.

In 154 career games, Donald tallied 111 sacks, 176 tackles for loss and 24 forced fumbles.

The Los Angeles Chargers have traded veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen to the Chicago Bears for a 2024 fourth-round draft pick, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

The move gives the Bears, who own the top overall pick in next month’s draft, a reliable weapon to line up opposite DJ Moore.

While Chicago has not announced their plans for the No. 1 pick, most assume that they will select USC’s Caleb Williams. Pairing Allen with Moore could set the rookie quarterback up for success.

Darnell Mooney was the Bears’ No. 2 receiver last season, but he signed a three-year, $39million deal with the Atlanta Falcons earlier this week.

Allen, who will turn 32 next month, was selected to his sixth career Pro Bowl last season and has made 683 catches since 2017. Only Davante Adams (709) has more over that span.

After an injury-shortened 2022 campaign, Allen bounced back last season with 108 receptions for 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games.

Allen, a renowned route-runner, proved his worth last season, but the Chargers reportedly asked the veteran to take a pay cut this year. After no deal could be struck, Los Angeles entered the trade market.

Trading Allen – along with his $34.7million cap hit – is the Chargers’ latest cost-cutting move after releasing fellow wide receiver Mike Williams and restructuring the contracts of pass-rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.

Los Angeles also lost Austin Ekeler in free agency after the running back signed with the Washington Commanders.

The Chargers will need to find more weapons for franchise quarterback Justin Herbert and will hope that speedy wide receiver Quentin Johnston, last year’s first-round pick, develops this offseason.

Allen played 11 seasons for the Chargers. His 904 receptions and 10,530 receiving yards both rank second in franchise history, trailing only Antonio Gates.

The first day of the new league year in the NFL brought about several transactions on Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Chargers released one of their longest-tenured players, the Las Vegas Raiders parted ways with the big-name quarterback they acquired last off-season and the Miami Dolphins cut their four-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

The Chargers released wide receiver Mike Williams to free up $20million in salary cap space.

Going into the final year of a 2022 contract extension that included $40million in guaranteed money, Williams missed nearly all of last season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in Week 3.

The seventh overall pick of the 2017 draft, Williams had spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Chargers.

His best season came in 2021, when he had career highs of 76 receptions for 1,146 yards, along with nine touchdowns.

 

The Raiders released Jimmy Garoppolo and receiver Hunter Renfrow in a pair of widely expected moves.

Garoppolo signed a three-year, $72.75million contract with Las Vegas last season, but was benched after making just six starts.

Last month, he received a two-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

The Raiders agreed to a deal earlier this week with Gardner Minshew, who will compete with Aidan O'Connell for the starting quarterback job.

Renfrow put together a huge season in 2021, catching 103 passes for 1,038 yards to earn a two-year contract extension worth $31.7million, but he's managed just 61 receptions for 585 yards and two TDs in the last two years combined.

 

The Dolphins released Xavien Howard, who is tied for fourth in franchise history with 29 interceptions.

Howard, who had spent his entire eight-year NFL career with Miami, led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2020 and was named a first-team All-Pro.

The Tennessee Titans, meanwhile, added a pair of players, signing wide receiver Calvin Ridley, as well as quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Ridley signed a four-year, $92million contract after finishing with 76 receptions for 1,016 yards with eight touchdowns while starting 17 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

Rudolph had spent the past four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, going 8-4-1 in 13 starts. He won the final three regular-season games last season to lead the Steelers to a play-off berth.

 

Derrick Henry has a new home.

The four-time Pro Bowl running back has agreed to a two-year, $16million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday.

The deal includes $9million in guaranteed money and can be worth up to $20million, according to reports.

Henry, a two-time NFL rushing champion and the 2020 AP Offensive Player of the Year, now joins a Ravens team that reached the AFC conference championship game this past season behind two-time league MVP Lamar Jackson.

The 30-year-old Henry, who had spent each of his first eight pro seasons with the Tennessee Titans, is coming off somewhat of a down year by his standards with 1,167 rushing yards and an average of 4.2 yards per attempt in 2023. However, he still led the NFL with 280 carries and was tied for seventh in the league with 12 rushing touchdowns.

The bruising back led the league in rushing in 2019 with 1,540 yards and became just the eighth player in NFL history to eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark the following year when he ran for 2,027 yards - the fifth-highest total in a season - with a career-high 17 rushing touchdowns.

Henry’s 9,502 rushing yards and 90 rushing touchdowns are the most in the NFL since the Titans selected the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner in the second round of the 2016 draft.

Baltimore finished with the AFC's best record in 2023 despite being unsettled at running back with season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Keaton Mitchell.

Jackson has led Baltimore in rushing each of the last five seasons and the Ravens have only had one running back rush for 1,000 yards in the last 10 years.

Henry, meanwhile, has five 1,000-yard seasons, including each of the last two.

While Joe Mixon's time with the Cincinnati Bengals is over, he has a different means of departure.

The Bengals will now trade Mixon to the Houston Texans, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

It was reported on Monday that Cincinnati was planning to release Mixon after it agreed to terms with free-agent running back Zack Moss, but by Tuesday the Texans offered to trade for the 2021 Pro Bowler.

It has not yet been reported what Houston is sending to the Bengals to complete the trade, which won't become official until the new league year begins on Wednesday.

By trading Mixon, who had spent his first seven NFL seasons in Cincinnati, the Bengals will save $6.1million on their salary cap.

 

A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Mixon is coming off a season in which he started 17 games, rushing for 1,034 yards with nine touchdowns and another 376 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions for his fourth season with at least 1,400 scrimmage yards. 

Since his 2017 rookie season, Mixon and Christian McCaffrey are the only two players in the NFL with four seasons of at least 1,400 scrimmage yards.

Mixon had career highs of 1,205 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns in 2021 for a Cincinnati team that reached the Super Bowl.

In 97 career games, he has 6,412 rushing yards, 2,139 receiving yards and 62 total TDs.

He now joins a Texans team that ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing in 2023, averaging 96.9 yards per game on the ground.

The Minnesota Vikings potentially found their new quarterback on Tuesday while also adding a familiar face to the backfield.

The Vikings agreed to a one-year, $10million deal with signal-caller Sam Darnold after losing Kirk Cousins on the first day of free agency and brought in former Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones for one year and $7million.

After Cousins agreed to a reported four-year contract worth up to $180million with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, Minnesota quickly added Darnold and will give the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft a chance to earn the starting job.

Darnold has appeared in 66 career games with the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers,

In 56 starts, Darnold has posted a 21-35 record while throwing 62 touchdown passes and 55 interceptions.

Jones stays in the NFC North after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Packers, who released him on Monday after agreeing to terms with former Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.

A dual threat out of the backfield, Jones has rushed for 5,940 yards and 45 touchdowns in 97 career games while adding 2,076 receiving yards and 18 touchdown catches.

Jones’ 63 scrimmage touchdowns since entering the NFL in 2017 are the ninth-most in the league during that span.

The Las Vegas Raiders and quarterback Gardner Minshew have agreed to a two-year, $25million contract, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

Minshew, whose contract will reportedly include $15million fully guaranteed, is expected to compete with second-year quarterback Aidan O’Connell for the starting job.

The NFL’s free agency negotiating period began Monday, with deals not to be finalised until the league year begins on Wednesday.

A sixth-round pick in 2019, Minshew became the Indianapolis Colts’ starter last season once Anthony Richardson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5.

Minshew kept the Colts afloat in the AFC South and led them to a 9-8 record.

Formerly with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles, Minshew has played 49 career games, throwing for 9,937 yards, 59 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

The Raiders entered last season with Jimmy Garoppolo starting under center, but then-interim coach Antonio Pierce benched the veteran for O’Connell, who won three of his final four starts.

The Raiders hired Pierce as a full-time head coach earlier this offseason and are hoping he can help the franchise win its first play-off game since the 2002 season.

Earlier Monday, former Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs agreed to a contract with the Green Bay Packers.

 

The NFL free agency negotiating period began Monday, and five top running backs have already found new homes.

The Philadelphia Eagles brought in Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs will sign with the Green Bay Packers, the Tennessee Titans agreed to terms with Tony Pollard, the Chicago Bears added D’Andre Swift and the New York Giants landed Devin Singletary.

Barkley's agreement is reportedly for three years and $37.75million, while Pollard and Swift will both reportedly earn $24million over three years. The terms of Jacobs’ and Singletary's contracts are unknown.

Barkley stays in the NFC East after spending his first six NFL seasons with the New York Giants.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft has run for 5,211 yards and 35 touchdowns in 74 career games while adding 288 receptions for 2,100 yards and 12 TDs.

The Giants added Singletary after losing Barkley. Singletary played one season with the Houston Texans in 2023 and established a career high with 898 rushing yards after totalling 3,151 yards on the ground with the Buffalo Bills from 2019-22.

Jacobs has rushed for 5,545 yards and 46 touchdowns in 73 games since the Raiders drafted him with the 24th overall pick in 2019. After agreeing to terms with Jacobs, the Packers informed Aaron Jones that he would be released.

Pollard is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, and Tennessee brings him aboard with Derrick Henry being a free agent.

Henry’s 9,502 rushing yards and 90 rushing touchdowns are the most in the NFL since the Titans selected the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner in the second round of the 2016 draft.

Swift set a career high with 1,049 yards on the ground in 2023 during his only season with the Eagles.

Kirk Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons have agreed to a four-year contract, Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney posted on social media Monday.

The deal is worth up to $180million, according to multiple media reports, and includes $100million in guaranteed money.

Cousins, who will turn 36 before the start of this season, is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that he sustained in Week 8 last year.

The move ends Cousins’ six-year tenure in Minnesota and leaves the Vikings with serious questions at the quarterback position. Minnesota lost six of their final seven games last season with Nick Mullens, Joshua Dobbs and Jaren Hall each getting their turn to start under centre.

"After significant and positive dialogue with Kirk and his representatives, we were unable to reach agreement on a contract that fits the short and long-term visions for both Kirk and the Minnesota Vikings," general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a statement Monday.

"Our approach heading into free agency always included layers of contingencies regarding the quarterback position. We are moving forward with plans that allow us to continue building a roster that can compete for a championship."

Cousins was selected to three Pro Bowls while in Minnesota, leading the Vikings to a 50-37-1 record and two play-off appearances.

While the Vikings face uncertainty, the Falcons have found stability at quarterback for the first time since Matt Ryan retired, assuming Cousins makes a full recovery.

Atlanta went 7-10 last season while riding the pendulum between Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke.

With bright, young talents like Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and Drake London, the Falcons are hopeful Cousins can lift their offence and help end a six-year play-off drought.

In 150 career games, Cousins has completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 39,471 yards, 270 touchdowns and 110 interceptions.

The NFL free agency negotiating period began Monday, and four top running backs have already found new homes.

The Philadelphia Eagles have brought in Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs will sign with the Green Bay Packers, the Tennessee Titans agreed to terms with Tony Pollard and the Chicago Bears added D’Andre Swift.

Barkley's agreement is reportedly for three years and $37.75million, while Pollard and Swift will both reportedly earn $24million over three years. The terms of Jacobs’ contract are unknown.

Barkley stays in the NFC East after spending his first six NFL seasons with the New York Giants.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft has run for 5,211 yards and 35 touchdowns in 74 career games while adding 288 receptions for 2,100 yards and 12 TDs.

Jacobs has rushed for 5,545 yards and 46 touchdowns in 73 games since the Raiders drafted him with the 24th overall pick in 2019.

Pollard is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, and Tennessee brings him aboard with Derrick Henry being a free agent.

Henry’s 9,502 rushing yards and 90 rushing touchdowns are the most in the NFL since the Titans selected the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner in the second round of the 2016 draft.

Swift set a career high with 1,049 yards on the ground in 2023 during his only season with the Eagles.

One of the top defensive free agents is no longer on the market.

The Las Vegas Raiders are signing Christian Wilkins to a four-year, $110million contract, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

The deal, which was reported on Monday, includes $84.75million in guaranteed money.

Wilkins had spent his first five seasons with the Miami Dolphins after being selected 13th overall in the 2019 NFL draft.

The 28-year-old is coming off a career year, tallying nine sacks and 23 quarterback hits while forcing one fumble.

Among all defensive tackles, Wilkins' 59 QB pressures were fifth most in the NFL.

He has proven to be quite durable, playing in all 17 games in each of the last three seasons and has only missed two games in his career.

With Las Vegas, he'll help bolster a defensive front that is led by Maxx Crosby, who registered a team-high 14 1/2 sacks in 2023.

 

The NFL free agency negotiating period began Monday, and three running backs are already off the market as Josh Jacobs will sign with the Green Bay Packers, the Tennessee Titans agreed to terms with Tony Pollard and the Chicago Bears added D’Andre Swift.

The terms of Jacobs’ contract are unknown, while Pollard and Swift will both reportedly earn $24million over three years.

Jacobs has rushed for 5,545 yards and 46 touchdowns in 73 games since the Raiders drafted him with the 24th overall pick in 2019.

Pollard is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, and Tennessee brings him aboard with Derrick Henry being a free agent.

Henry’s 9,502 rushing yards and 90 rushing touchdowns are the most in the NFL since the Titans selected the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner in the second round of the 2016 draft.

Swift set a career high with 1,049 yards on the ground in 2023 during his only season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last week, the Indianapolis Colts gave Michael Pittman Jr. the franchise tag.

This week, they're giving him a new contract.

The Colts and Pittman are finalising a three-year, $70million deal, according to multiple sources.

The contract, which has a maximum value of $71.5million and includes $46million in guaranteed money, is expected to be signed Monday.

 

Indianapolis placed the franchise tag on Pittman on March 5, giving the sides time to work on a long-term deal.

A second-round pick of the 2020 draft, the 26-year-old is coming off his best pro season, ranking fifth in the NFL in receptions (109) with 1,152 yards and four touchdown catches.

His 10 games with eight or more receptions were the most in the league.

After going 4-12-1 in 2022, the Colts showed big improvements on the field last season and just missed the play-offs with a 9-8 record.

With 2023 first-round pick Anthony Richardson coming back from a season-ending injury and Pittman in the mix, the expectations are raised for Indianapolis in 2024.

Russell Wilson has quickly found a new team following his unceremonious release from the Denver Broncos, as the Super Bowl champion quarterback announced Sunday night he has agreed to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

NFL.com reports that Wilson will sign a one-year contract with the Steelers for $1.2 million, the league minimum for a veteran player with 12 seasons of NFL experience. Wilson is already due nearly $38 million in guaranteed money on the ill-fated five-year, $245 million extension he signed with the Broncos before the start of the 2022 season.

Wilson declared his intentions in a post on social media platform X that read: "Year 13. Grateful. @Steelers,".

The Broncos informed Wilson of his release, which will officially take place when the new league year begins on Wednesday, last week.

Wilson joins a Steelers team that reached the play-offs last season with a 10-7 record despite instability at the quarterback position. Pittsburgh started three players - 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett and veterans Mason Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky - under center, with Pickett the only member of that group still under contract.

Pickett lost his starting job in December to Rudolph, who proceeded to win his three late-season starts to get the Steelers into the post-season, where they were dealt a 31-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the opening round.

Denver acquired Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in March 2022 in a blockbuster trade, though the nine-time Pro Bowler was never able to bring the same success to the Broncos as he did during a highly successful 10-year run in Seattle. The Broncos went 11-19 in Wilson's 30 starts and unofficially announced their intentions to move on when they benched the 35-year-old for the final two games of 2023 in order to avoid an injury that would guarantee his 2025 salary.

Wilson did put up solid numbers despite Denver's 2023 struggles, as he threw for 3,070 yards with 26 touchdowns and a 98.0 passer rating while being intercepted just eight times in 15 starts.

The charismatic quarterback accomplished far more during his long tenure in Seattle, helping the Seahawks to eight post-season appearances highlighted by a victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII during the 2013 campaign. Wilson compiled a 104-53-1 regular-season record and went 9-7 in the playoffs with the Seahawks while amassing 4,000 passing yards in a season four times.

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