The New Cooper Kupp Extension: The 3rd Keystone Of The Amazing Rams Dynasty Team Build

Cooper Kupp has reached a deal to extend his contract. A look at what the Kupp extension means for the league, the Rams, and the man himself.

Ryan Anderson
Cooper Kupp Extension Finalized
Rams Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp At Minicamp Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams

The Cooper Kupp Extension: The 3rd Keystone Of The Rams Legacy Team Build

Cooper Kupp and the Rams reached a deal to extend his contract with the team on Wednesday. The Kupp extension is one of several important items on the to-do list of the Rams front office this offseason. This also list includes the extension for Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Sean McVay, and Les Snead. The Stafford and Donald deals are finalized and Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic has reported that the McVay and Sneed deals will be done before the start of training camp in late July.

They are all cornerstones of the five structures which the Rams have built around that have laid the groundwork for where they are now. Where have these five gotten the Rams? Can I interest you in five winning seasons, four playoff appearances, two NFC titles, and the first football championship in LA in nearly 40 years?

It’s apparent that the Rams believe this group has the ability to turn this so-called “Win now” run into the NFL’s next dynasty.

The Process of the Kupp Extension

So many times when a player negotiates a contract, there is an adversarial nature to the proceedings. With Kupp and the Rams, this wasn’t the case. Kupp has been effusive about the Rams organization. He has used words like trust, mutual respect, and collaborative when talking about the process. In fact, he mentioned in an interview with The Ringer NFL Show that they didn’t even call it a negotiation.

The Kupp Extension’s Effect on the League

Kupp went into talks with the Rams with two clear messages. He wasn’t interested in ‘resetting the [wide receiver] market,’ but he did want a ‘fair’ deal. What fair came out looking like was $110 million over the next five years, including $75 million in guarantees.

On the straight average per year, the Kupp extension vaults him from 18th in the league into somewhere in the top five among receivers depending on how the details shake out. Which is the strata where a receiver of Kupp’s caliber should be. Of course, there’s an argument that he should be the top paid receiver and in a way, he actually is. When you look at guaranteed money, the Kupp extension makes him the highest-paid receiver. Tyreek Hill is not far behind with $72.2 million.

Anytime you listen to a football player talk about another player getting a big contract they always see it as a net positive. When the best player is worth more, every player is worth more. For a long time, NFL contracts had little to no guaranteed money. Given the very nature of the game, this is detrimental to the players who, literally, put life and limb in the line for, essentially, our entertainment. So guaranteed money in the Kupp Extension is seen in an even more positive light.

A side note: While the Kupp extension, puts him first in guaranteed money, he is 13th in fully guaranteed money. More on that later.

The Kupp Exensions Effect on Cooper Kupp

If Kupp has been affected by the extension, he has buried those feelings deep inside. When asked by Kevin Clark of The Ringer NFL Show, what he bought to celebrate the large deal, Kupp struggled to think of anything. Although he did admit that he needed to take his wife on a vacation. Although, that seemed to be a priority that would have happened regardless of the growth of his net worth.

He then went on to say that “life goes on.” and that, “…my son still wakes me up at 5:45. I’m still making oatmeal in the morning for the boys..”

Beyond the trappings of domesticity, the Kupp extension hasn’t distracted him from his football goals either saying his only goal is becoming a “better football player.” He went further on that point by saying “There’s always so much to get better at.” and, “anyone that thinks they’ve arrived, they are sorely mistaken.”

The Kupp Extensions Effect on the Team

So about that fully guaranteed money. There is a distinction between guaranteed money and fully guaranteed money, which PFF did a good job defining in a piece earlier this year.

The Rams have only two players that are in the top five in their respective position groups. Jalen Ramsey is number three among corners and Aaron Donald now has the most fully guaranteed money among interior defensive linemen. That said, his 46.5 million seems like a drop in the bucket compared to T.J, Watt’s $80 million, who leads edge defenders and is fourth overall in the league. Donald would be sixth on the list among edge rushers despite leading all pash rushers in pressures per PFF.

The point of all this is that the Rams keep their fully guaranteed relatively low. Which results in less dead money. (The scourge of salary cap management.) This is where the Kupp extension is on the team-friendly side. He is the 13th receiver when it comes to fully guaranteed money.

There has been a lot of hay made over how unsustainable the Rams’ approach to team building is. The one thing that will prove that wrong is more winning.

To do so, the Rams will have to continue threading the needle of giving their top players contracts commensurate with their skill level and keeping money to build the rest of the team for 2022 and the foreseeable future.

The Kupp extension along with the Stafford and Donald deals will prove whether or not they can continue to build a winning team. Kupp and Stafford signed deals that are fair and Donald agreed to base his guaranteed monies on interior linemen rather than an edge rusher. All of this aids the Rams in building on their track record and firm foundation. Which they can parlay into what could be the NFL’s next dynasty.

Of course, more money dispersed among a few players means there is less money to go around for the rest of the team. This means there will be an even high level of importance in developing young talent from deep in the draft and turning cut-day casualties into quality depth pieces. But that’s the real skill of Sean McVay’s approach to coaching.

Of course, the biggest effect will be keeping the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl MVP, and Triple Crown winner (Only the third receiver to do so since 1990) on the Rams roster for the next few years. It will be hard for Kupp to replicate the statistical success he had in 2021, but his talent goes beyond that. He operates as an extension of the coaching staff on the field. With the addition of Allen Robinson and the continued development of Tutu Atwell, this will be even more important this season.

Cooper Kupp Extension Finalized
Rams Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp At Minicamp Photo Credit: Brevin Townsell | LA Rams