Seahawks receive the best gift they could dream of from an NFC West rival

Seattle will not have to face an all-time great player anymore.

Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

No matter how good the Seattle Seahawks have been since the early 2010s, they seem to always have issues with the Los Angeles Rams. Coming into the 2023 season, Seattle was expected to compete for the NFC West crown - or at least second place - while the Rams would struggle and finish in the third just ahead of the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, the Rams beat Seattle twice and made the playoffs while Seattle missed the postseason.

A huge reason for the Rams' success over the last decade against Seattle (the Seahawks trail the head-to-head since the beginning of the 2014 season 7-14) was defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald is arguably the best interior defensive lineman in the history of the NFL. He has been a First-Time All-Pro eight times in 10 seasons and he has made the Pro Bowl every year of his career.

Donald has also been named Defensive Player of the Year three times. Only two other players in the history of the league can say that: Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt. But specifically, as it relates to Seattle, perhaps no player the franchise has ever faced has been more of a menace to them than Donald.

Seahawks will no longer have to play against Aaron Donald after he announces retirement

But Seattle got some excellent news on Friday and that is that Aaron Donald has announced he is retiring from the NFL. In 18 games against Seattle, Donald had 15.5 sacks - the second-most of any team he ever played as he has 16 against the Arizona Cardinals - and forced two fumbles. He didn't seem to care who was the quarterback for Seattle, Donald was going to hit them time and again.

The Seahawks always needed to game-plan for Donald, of course, as every team did, but Pete Carroll and whoever his offensive coordinator has never had a real answer for how to slow Donald. Instead, it appeared Seattle simply seemed to understand facing the Rams would mean a low-scoring affair where Seattle hoped that the Rams did not outscore them. 14 of the 19 times Donald faced Seattle, however, that happened.

Seattle will hopefully be better in 2024 and will continue to add talent in free agency. But twice next season and in every season thereafter, Seattle might be better because they don't have to face Aaron Donald. Maybe Seattle won't beat the Rams all the time, but without Donald, things got unexpectedly a little easier for the Seahawks against Los Angeles.

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