Cooper Kupp

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Hopkins, Rams

Hit hard by injuries this summer, the 49ers‘ passing attack will be a shell of its optimal version Sunday. The 49ers declared George Kittle out Friday with a sprained knee. Kittle will not travel with the team to New York but will instead meet his teammates in West Virginia, where the 49ers will practice next week in between their road tilts against the Jets and Giants, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com tweets. While the 49ers are expected to have first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk make his NFL debut, being down Kittle and top wideout Deebo Samuel (on IR) will not make matters easy for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • DeAndre Hopkins signed a lucrative two-year, $54MM add-on with the Cardinals add-on recently. He will go from earning $26MM through 2021 on his previous deal to making $42.75MM — all fully guaranteed — in that span, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Hopkins’ $6.65MM 2022 base salary vests in March 2021, Breer adds. Signed through 2024, Hopkins will receive $60.1MM over the deal’s first three years — up from the $39.1MM he would have collected under the terms of his Texans-constructed contract. The final two years of Hopkins’ new deal — 2023 and ’24 — are option years, Breer adds (via Twitter).
  • Despite eating a stunning $21.8MM in dead money from their Brandin Cooks trade, the Rams dived back into the fray of high-end receiver contracts. Their three-year, $47.25MM Cooper Kupp deal includes $35.1MM guaranteed and $20.3MM in full guarantees, according to OverTheCap. Woods’ four-year, $65MM pact, which comes with $32MM guaranteed, will only pay him $4.5MM over the next two years — which were part of his previous Rams contract. However, the deal’s first new year (2022) comes with $13.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • More injury trouble for Dee Ford. The 49ers pass rusher is now battling a neck issue and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Ford, who did not practice this week, has run into extensive injury trouble during his time with the 49ers. He played through knee, quad and hamstring issues in 2019 and missed time during camp with a calf malady. The 49ers restructured Ford’s contract to create cap space; the move will make it more difficult for the team to cut or trade Ford in 2021.
  • Mohamed Sanu‘s 49ers deal is worth a tad more than the veteran minimum. The former Bengals, Falcons and Patriots wideout signed a one-year pact worth around $1.125MM, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding that Sanu will receive a $137.5K bonus — despite being an in-season addition. Although the 31-year-old target struggled to assimilate in New England, he played under Kyle Shanahan with the 2016 Falcons.
  • The Seahawks are still on the lookout for pass-rushing help. The team brought in former Chiefs second-round edge rusher Breeland Speaks for a recent workout, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. A 2018 draftee, Speaks could not make the Chiefs’ 53-man roster. He missed all of last season due to injury.

Rams, WR Cooper Kupp Agree To Three-Year Deal

Cooper Kupp is sticking around Los Angeles for at least the next few years. The team announced that they’ve signed the wideout to a three-year extension. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the deal is worth up to $48MM.

Earlier this week, there was some pessimism surrounding a Cooper Kupp/Rams extension, but the two sides apparently made up some ground. Earlier today, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported (via Twitter) that the organization and the wideout had “made significant progress on a large new contract extension.

We heard on Wednesday that the Rams were still pushing for a deal, but reports indicated that there was still “a lot of work to be done.” It was always going to be tough for the Rams to give Kupp a significant pay increase on his $2MM salary for the upcoming season. The organization is right against the cap, especially after they inked cornerback Jalen Ramsey to a new deal. Of course, the Rams have some flexibility to pay Kupp in future seasons (although they were projected to have just $9MM in space in 2021 prior to this extension).

While the Rams’ lack of cap space was a concern, it was also going to be tough to settle on a final number. As our own Dallas Robinson noted earlier this week, Jarvis Landry is the only slot receiver to be in the top-15 highest-paid players at his position ($75.5MM). Kupp could probably argue for more than that, but you’ve got to assume that the front office was wary of overspending on the wideout.

The 2017 third-round pick has been a productive member of the Rams offense since his rookie season, but he took it to a new level in 2019 after appearing in 16 games for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old set career-highs in receptions (94), receiving yards (1,161), and touchdowns (10). With Brandin Cooks now out of the picture in Los Angeles, Kupp will have a chance to build off those numbers in 2020.

Latest On Rams WR Cooper Kupp

While the Rams are working on an extension for wide receiver Cooper Kupp, it doesn’t appear that a new contract will be in place before Week 1, according to Steve Wyche and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter links).

Los Angeles is hoping to get a fresh deal finalized for Kupp before the Rams open their season on Sunday Night Football, per Wyche, but there is “a lot of work to be done” before an extension is complete. Garafolo adds there’s “not a lot of optimism” that a deal is inked this weekend, but that obviously doesn’t mean an extension couldn’t be worked out in-season.

The Rams are already in a tight position from a salary cap perspective. Los Angeles extended star cornerback Jalen Ramsey earlier today, and that move should help them financially — the Rams had been roughly $600K over the cap before Ramsey’s new deal, but the ability to spread out his signing bonus should actually reduce his 2020 cap charge.

Kupp, on the other hand, is only making a tad over $2MM in 2020, so it could be difficult to reduce his 2020 cap figure. A substantial signing bonus would add to his cap number, and new salaries for Kupp over the next few seasons could also do harm to LA’s budget, as the club is only projected to have ~$9MM in cap space in 2021.

Projecting a Kupp extension is difficult given that the majority of top-end pass-catcher deals have been handed to outside receives. Among the top-15 highest-paid wideouts, the only player who spends most of his time in the slot is Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, who inked a five-year, $75.5MM deal in 2018. Kupp, who has arguably been more productive than Landry was at the time of his extension, would likely aim to top that annual value.

Kupp, a third-round pick in the 2017 draft, has been a key part of LA’s offense over the past three seasons. 2019 marked his best campaign to date, as the 27-year-old posted 94 receptions for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Rumors: Kupp, Goff, Gurley, Matthews

The latest on the Rams:

  • With one year left on his deal, wide receiver Cooper Kupp says he isn’t sweating the Rams for an extension. “There’s so much going on in the world right now,” Kupp said (Twitter link via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times). “It’s not really a priority at this time.” Cupp, 27 in June, managed 94 catches, 1,161 yards, and ten touchdowns last year – all career highs.
  • If the Rams need additional cap room, Jared Goff is open to a restructuring of his deal. “I don’t see why not,” said the quarterback, who added that it’s a matter to be discussed between his agent and Rams COO Kevin Demoff (Twitter link via Omar Ruiz of NFL.com). Thanks to the four-year, $134MM extension he signed last fall, Goff is under contract with L.A. through 2024.
  • After parting ways with the Rams, running back Todd Gurley and linebacker Clay Matthews said that the team was late on money they were still owed. In an interview on the NFL Network, GM Les Snead said that they will, in fact, get their bonus checks. However, the Rams disagree with Gurley and Matthews on the language of the contracts – the Rams believe that they’re not due to pay for some time. The Rams, in theory, could wait until other clubs pick up part of the tab via offset language.

Rams HC, GM Discuss Offseason

It’s been a busy 24 months for the Rams, and it’ll all culminate with a crucial 2020 offseason.

They’ve handed out a number of high-priced extensions to quarterback Jared Goff, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and others, leading to only $21MM in cap space this year. The organization also traded their 2020 and 2012 first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey, leaving the team with reduced draft capital.

Plus, the organization is staring at a long list of impending unrestricted free agents. In other words, the Rams could look a bit different next season.

Head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead spoke to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry about some of their critical offseason decisions. The entire article is worth a read, but we snagged some of the notable soundbites below:

On if the front office has engaged in any trade talks:

McVay: “Usually, Aaron Donald is off the table. I think, to answer your question, I think you kind of know who are the guys that there’s not something that would be worth it, but those are ongoing conversations and I think we’re always open to being able to explore things that can upgrade us as a team.

“What we have done a nice job of is identifying those foundational pieces to try to build around.”

Snead: “This time of year, it is interesting. You get calls on a lot of players. There’s a new era, in that somebody may call and ask about your best player, which in the past, I don’t know that phone call would be made. … But usually the answer is ‘No.'”

On free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth‘s potential return:

McVay: “We’re pretty confident. He still played a really high level last year. His impact isn’t exclusive to just playing the left tackle position.”

On free agent kicker Greg Zuerlein:

McVay: “He’s done so many things and he’s a great kicker and I think those established veterans are so important, especially when every time he takes the field, there’s points at stake, unless he’s kicking off. But we want to make sure we’re evaluating the guys in the draft and then we’re going to have free agency.”

On potential extensions for receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson:

Snead: “The goal would be, let’s say guys like those two, if we do want them to get back, it would be great to have that box checked. What we have to do now is, because we have, I call it more urgent guys whose contracts actually expire, get through that process first and then move on to — I don’t want to call them less urgent — but less urgent than the players whose contracts are expiring.”

On potentially franchising free agent linebackers Dante Fowler or Cory Littleton:

Snead: “All options are on the table.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Rumors: Seahawks, Rams, Kupp

You can expect the Seahawks to add a veteran defensive tackle following Jarran Reed‘s suspension, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com tweets. He also offers a couple of names to keep an eye on: Earl Mitchell and Corey Liuget have both been linked to Seattle and are still available.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Rams receiver Cooper Kupp will not have to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, Steve Wyche of NFL Media tweets. That’s huge for Kupp, who tore his left ACL in November. The receiver has been vocal about his desire to play in Week 1 and it sounds like he’ll be ready to go for the opener if all goes well from here. Last year, Kupp had 40 catches for 566 yards and six scores before succumbing to injury.
  • A minor bit of news – Cardinals lineman Justin Pugh will shift from right guard back to his native left guard this season (Twitter link via Pugh). Pugh, 29 in August, started in all seven of his games for the Cardinals last year before landing on IR in November. The former first-round pick, unfortunately, has not played a full season since his 2013 rookie year.

NFC Notes: Kupp, Rudolph, Lions, Eagles

Rams wideout Cooper Kupp tore his ACL back in mid-November, and the team is eyeing a Week 1 return for the 25-year-old. Kupp participated in individual drills during the Rams’ organized team activities on Monday, and he told reporters that he feels better each week.

“It’s been a long process for sure,” Kupp told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “I’ve been doing what I can to get back.

“I can’t predict how I’m going to feel even a week from now. But the way that things are going, I’m happy with the way that things are trending. Each week there’s progress.”

While Kupp wouldn’t give a definitive target date for his return, coach Sean McVay told reporters said the team is hopeful he’ll be ready to go for the season opener.

“He’s like a kid standing on the sidelines that just wants to grab a ball and go play,” McVay said. “He’s one of those guys that’s right on track with where we want him to be.”

The former third-rounder followed a standout rookie campaign with a solid 2018 season. Kupp finished the year with 40 receptions for 566 yards and six scores in eight games.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • While there’s no guarantee that he’ll be with the Vikings come the start of the season, tight end Kyle Rudolph told NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero that he’d be attending his team’s OTAs (Twitter link). We learned last week that the organization had offered the veteran a five-year extension, although there hasn’t been a lot of progress with negotiations. There were rumblings that the team could even look to move on from Rudolph after selecting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of last month’s draft.
  • A pair of veterans won’t be attending Lions OTAs. Coach Matt Patricia told Justin Rogers of The Detroit News that nose tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Darius Slay wouldn’t be attending the voluntary workouts (Twitter link). “Right now we are – it’s voluntary as that part of the season is concerned,” Patricia said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “Those two guys are not here. You will not see them at the practice today, but we fully expect that this time of the year, guys that are here, guys that are not. That’s totally fine. We’re working with the guys that are out there.” Both Harrison and Slay have two years remaining on their current deals, and both players are represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus.
  • Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins isn’t attending his team’s OTAs, tweets NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out on Twitter, the absence is notable because Jenkins is “one of the NFL’s most-respected players.” The defensive back is presumably seeking a new contract, although his current deal doesn’t expire until the end of the 2020 season. Jenkins’ $8.75MM average annual salary still ranks in the top-10 at the position. The 31-year-old earned his third Pro Bowl nod last season.
  • Chris Long played alongside a number of talented defensive linemen with the Eagles this past season, leading to him appearing in a modest 59.1% of the team’s defensive plays. The veteran acknowledged that his diminishing role played a part in his decision to retire. “Philadelphia is where I wanted to play a couple more years,” Long told Peter King of Football Morning in America. “I love Philadelphia. But as a player I learned the most important thing to me is Sunday, and having a chance to be a big part of it. It seemed like player-coach was kind of the role that was going to be carved out for me—maybe playing 10, 12, 15 plays a game. I’m a rhythm player. I need to set people up, I need to be in the flow of the game. If I sit on the bench for three series, I can’t get rhythm, and I’ll get cold and maybe I’ll hurt myself. Some people think that’s great—play less and you won’t get hurt. Man, I want to play ball. In Philadelphia, it didn’t seem there was much of a chance to compete there. But they were honest with me the whole time. I appreciate the honesty.”

Injury Notes: Graham, Mariota, Darnold, Kupp

We learned earlier this week that Packers tight end Jimmy Graham had suffered a broken thumb, and it was expected that the former All-Pro would be out for the foreseeable future. However, head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that Graham is going to try to play on Sunday against the Vikings.

“I know he intends to try to go,” McCarthy said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). “That’s his intention…There’s going to be a transition through the practice week and see different splints and things like that. So that’s why you have to work through it.”

The 31-year-old has 34 receptions for 452 yards and two touchdowns during his first season in Green Bay. If he was forced to miss time, the Packers would likely turn to Lance KendricksRobert Tonyan Jr., and/or Marcedes Lewis.

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t suffer an elbow injury during Sunday’s loss to the Colts. Instead, as head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters, the signal-caller suffered a “stinger” (via Jim Wyatt of Titans Online via Twitter). Mariota may get a second opinion, and there’s still hope that the quarterback can play on Monday against the Titans. Through nine games this season, the 25-year-old has completed 67.6-percent of his passes for 1,583 yards, seven touchdowns, and six interceptions. He’s also rushed for 255 yards and two scores on 47 carries. If Mariota is forced to miss Monday’s game, Blaine Gabbert would likely earn the start for Tennessee.
  • Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had ditched his walking boot, and ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes that the rookie was seen jogging during Monday’s practice. “It feels good. It feels great,” Darnold said of his right foot. “Nothing for me to complain about. No pain, either.” The quarterback missed the team’s last game against the Bills, but he got an extra week off thanks to the bye. If Darnold misses this weekend’s contest against the division-rival Patriots, the team will turn to veteran Josh McCown again.
  • While Cooper Kupp‘s season-ending injury certainly wasn’t promising, Rams coach Sean McVay revealed that the wideout underwent successful ACL surgery. “It went really well,” McVay said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “He called right afterwards and he was in great spirits. I know if anybody is going to attack the rehab process the right way, it’s going to be Cooper Kupp. Fortunately, some of the things when you do get in there, none of the other things that sometimes can delay that rehab process were affected. It was a clean surgery, did a good job repairing that and we expect him to be able to make a good recovery. Looking forward to getting him back.” The 25-year-old was having another productive season before suffering the injury, hauling in 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns in eight games.
  • Buccaneers offensive lineman Evan Smith suffered torn labrums in both hips, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The veteran will have surgery in New York next Monday. The 32-year-old had appeared in seven games with Tampa Bay this season, serving primarily in a backup role. The team placed him on the injured reserve last week.

Rams To Activate WR Pharoh Cooper

The Rams are expected to activate wide receiver/returner Pharoh Cooper from injured reserve before Monday night’s game against the Chiefs, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Cooper Kupp, who went down with a torn ACL in Week 11, has formally been placed on injured reserve. 

Cooper has appeared in just one game this season, as the ankle injury he suffered in Los Angeles’ season opener landed him on IR. Now that he’s missed eight weeks, Cooper is eligible to return and began practicing last week. That opened up a three-week window during which the Rams had to decide whether to activate Cooper, or keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.

A fourth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2016, Cooper earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2017 as a return man. The 23 year-old Cooper handled 66 combined kick and punt returns, and led the NFL in yards per kickoff return (27.4). He will immediately take back both of those roles from Blake Countess and Jojo Natson, who have been handling kicks and punts, respectively.

Cooper hasn’t been much of an offensive force through two-plus years in the NFL. He played roughly 400 offensive snaps from 2016-17 and managed only 25 total receptions during that time. Cooper could conceivably see snaps at receiver now that Kupp is done for the season, but the Rams typically stick with the same three wideouts (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and — now — Josh Reynolds) in their “11” personnel package.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Cooper Kupp Suffers Torn ACL

The Rams’ worst fears have been confirmed. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp has been ruled out for the season with a torn ACL, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). 

Kupp, 25, was in the midst of another strong season with 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns in eight games. Unfortunately, the injury that forced him out of Sunday’s game against the Seahawks will end his season and leave the 9-1 Rams without one of their best weapons.

The third-round pick out of Eastern Washington was a pleasant surprise for the Rams last season as he racked up 62 catches for 869 yards and five scores. This year, before the injury, he was on pace for about 70 catches for 985 yards and ten scores.

The Rams still have plenty of pass-catching ammo thanks to Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, but each player will attract more attention without Kupp on the field. Josh Reynolds, JoJo Natson, KhaDarel Hodge, and Nick Williams are also on the roster, so the Rams might not have to sign another receiver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.