Former Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been widely regarded as one of the NFL’s top players since entering the league in 2014, as he earned All-Star and All-Pro nods consistently before being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year after the end of the 2017 season.
Now, Donald’s elite talent has been recognized by EA Sports, which bestowed a rare but perhaps overdue honor upon him by giving him an overall rating of 99 in the upcoming “Madden 19” video game. A 99 overall rating is considered perfect in the context of the game, and only 106 players have earned such a rating in the history of the “Madden” franchise.
Specifically, EA Sports saw Donald’s play recognition as his greatest asset, as he was handed down a 99 grade for that particular skill. Donald’s second-greatest attribute, according to EA Sports, was his power move, which came in at a 98. His strength, at 97, was his third-best feature.
99 joins the 99 Club!— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) June 28, 2018
Congrats, @AaronDonald97! @EAMaddenNFL | #Madden19 pic.twitter.com/GmIxg7LC6J
The Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman was one of just seven players in the NFL to join the Madden 99 Club this year, as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots both made the cut along with Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, Von Miller of the Denver Broncos, and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
Last season, Donald was able to reach new heights despite playing fewer games than ever before in his career. In 14 appearances, the Rams star forced a career-high five fumbles and matched his personal-best sack total with 11. And for his efforts, he was named Defensive Player of the Year.
But even with the widespread acknowledgment of his elite skill, Donald is still waiting on a contract commensurate with his contributions. While he pulled in a salary of $3.2 million in 2017, that ranked 200th among NFL defenders. That will rise to $6.9 million in 2018, the final year of his rookie contract, but that still won’t crack the top 100 among defensive players in the league.
Contract talks between Donald and the team are underway, and Rams COO Kevin Demoff told Marc Sessler of NFL.com that the Rams’ new stadium was built with players like Donald in mind.
“The dialogue’s been great,” he added. “We look forward to getting this done. And putting Aaron in the place where he should be among the highest-paid defensive players.”