It’s been an unbelievable year for wide receivers, but there’s a scenario in the near-term future that could make 2022 or 2023 the last chance to really “cash in”, especially if you’re an elite wideout like Cooper Kupp. Check out this timeline of receiver news in 2022:
- Cooper Kupp wins Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP
- Ja’Marr Chase nearly helps lead Bengals to Super Bowl win as a rookie
- Christian Kirk shocks free agent market with four-year, $72 million contract with Jaguars
- Mike Williams is extended for three years, $60 million with Chargers
- D.J. Moore signs three-year, $61.9 million extension with Panthers
- Raiders give up first, second round picks for right to sign Davante Adams to five-year, $140 million deal with $65.7 million gtd
- Dolphins trade first, second, and two fourth round picks for right to extend Tyreek Hill to four-year, $120 million deal with $72.2 million gtd
- Stefon Diggs signs a four-year, $96 million extension with Bills, $70m gtd
- Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin, and A.J. Brown reportedly ready to all holdout for new contracts with their respective teams
Meanwhile, the best wide receiver in the NFL says that he’s content being the best bargain at the position in the NFL.
Cooper Kupp is set to make a little more than $14.5 million in base salary over the 2022 and 2023 seasons, then will become a free agent at 31-years-old in 2024. Without a new contract, Kupp will likely make less than new teammate Allen Robinson, who signed a three-year, $46.5 million deal with $30.25 million guaranteed at signing.
While Hill, Diggs, and Adams certainly re-shaped the top of the receiver market, what’s just as interesting is the amount of money teams have been willing to guarantee to Kirk, Williams, Moore, and Robinson. A veteran who turns 29 in August, Robinson was one of the top receivers in the NFL with the Bears in 2019 and 2020, but he’s also missed significant game action in three of the last five seasons.
There is a vast separation between what Robinson has done in the last three years and what Kupp has done in the last three years: Kupp has averaged 110 receptions, 1,360 yards, and 10 touchdowns per season over the last three seasons. While much of that production came with Matthew Stafford as the quarterback in 2021, Kupp was still one of the NFL’s most dangerous threats with Jared Goff as his QB for the first four seasons in L.A..
Kupp may not be expected to win another receiving triple crown in 2022, but is there a better wide receiver in the NFL this year? The sixth-year wideout says he’s not concerned with what other receivers are doing or how much money they are making, though he is clearly aware that there’s a value to being the best receiver in the game.
“There’s a place you want to be,” Kupp told reporters on Tuesday. “There’s a place that I think is fair.”
Cooper Kupp, asked if he wants to be the highest-paid WR in the @NFL:— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) April 19, 2022
"I don't think that's the approach that I take."
"There's a place you want to be. There's a place that I think is fair."
"I'm not trying to beat anybody. I'm not trying to compare myself to anyone else."
“I’m not trying to beat anybody. I’m not trying to compare myself to anyone else.”
Kupp is ready to go to offseason workouts and training camp without a new contract, by all accounts, and he may have no choice in the matter anyway. At least as far as the Rams being able to afford a new $30 million per year contract for a receiver.
While Les Snead sorts through how he can keep Aaron Donald for another five or six years, there’s also the matter of staying under the salary cap after giving Stafford a new four-year, $160 million deal this offseason, while also signing Robinson, Bobby Wagner, and retaining Joseph Noteboom to replace Andrew Whitworth. L.A. has one of the worst cap situations already for 2023 and 2024 and pushing more money down another year can only work so many times.
But if Kupp waits it out and sees how the market responds in 2023, will it be too late?
I remember when contract extensions for Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell set the NFL Twitter world on fire with anger over giving money to a running back. Certainly paying a wide receiver seems to be a safer bet comparatively, but how will teams feel if some of these newly-paid wideouts get injured or go through struggles in 2022?
Could a bad season by Kirk cause teams to think twice about the next overpay?
If Hill doesn’t perform as well without Patrick Mahomes or Adams doesn’t do as well without Aaron Rodgers, will teams hesitate to sacrifice tremendous draft capital and cap space for premium receivers who had elite quarterback play?
Would an injury to Robinson and/or Moore make teams stop before giving $20 million to a player who may or may not be healthy enough to play?
Will it be harder to get a $100 million contract as a 30-year-old wide receiver in 2023 than it was in 2022?
Kupp says he is not worried about that. What does his agent think he should do?