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Cooper Kupp’s injury history makes his future with Rams cloudy

Cooper Kupp has an injury history that’s undeniable

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, there is no denying is overall talent. In 2021, he was the first wide receiver since Steve Smith in 2005 to win the triple crown, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Kupp on the field on Sundays is a top-5 wide receiver in the league. However, when it comes to Kupp, there is also no denying his injury history.

Throughout his career, Kupp has struggled to stay healthy. While Kupp was healthy as a rookie, he tore his ACL in his second season, missing the team’s playoff run. Prior to the AC tear, he suffered a sprain in his knee a few weeks earlier. There are some that believe that had he been healthy, the Rams beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Prior to the 2020 season, he sprained his ankle and then dealt with a sprained wrist during the season. Kupp didn’t miss time with either injury, but they are injuries worth noting. Last year, Kupp sprained his ankle not once, but twice. The second time resulted in him missing the second half of 2022 and required surgery.

That leads us to this season. Kupp strained his hamstring in training camp and then re-aggravated the strain during joint practices with the Denver Broncos. The Rams decided to place Kupp on injured reserve and he missed the first four games of the year. Now, just six games back, the Rams wide receiver has once again sprained his ankle.

Over the past two seasons, Kupp has played in just 15 out of 27 possible games. This is after he signed an extension following his 2021 triple crown season. While Kupp hasn’t necessarily missed time with injuries, he does tend to deal with a lot. The latest example is his current ankle injury where he is expected to play on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

When the Rams hit the reset button this offseason, they did so with the idea that their “pillars” moving forward would be Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald. With that said, the injuries to Kupp murk up his future even if just slightly. It doesn’t help that the offense has seemingly been performing better without Kupp on the field. As I wrote last week, “the Rams offense hasn’t just gotten worse since Kupp’s return, it’s gotten significantly worse. Los Angeles went from having a top-10 passing offense to a bottom-10 passing offense.”

It begs the question whether or not Kupp should still be part of the vision for 2025. Kupp is 30 years old which is very notable, especially considering his injuries. Julio Jones was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. His last 1,000 yard season came at age 30. DeAndre Hopkins has been on a bit of decline and his last 1,000 yard season came two years ago at age 28. Of course, we can point to Keenan Allen who plays similarly to Kupp and just went over 1,000 yards at age 31. Davante Adams is also still going strong at 31 years old.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen teams trade wide receivers as it is one of the deeper positions in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans traded Stefon Diggs and AJ Brown. The depth at the wide receiver position has never been deeper in the NFL. Of course, the difference between them and Kupp is that they were on rookie contracts. The Arizona Cardinals outright released DeAndre Hopkins this past offseason.

It’s hard to see the Rams outright releasing Kupp and they don’t overly benefit from trading him. They would eat $47M in dead money in a release. Kupp does have a base salary of just $15M next year. According to Spotrac, a team trading for Kupp would only be responsible for $6M.The New York Jets may be willing to make that kind of move, but again, the Rams likely wouldn’t get a huge trade package in return. The return would probably look like the Jalen Ramsey trade in which the Rams got a third round pick and a player. If they’re lucky, they may get a second-round pick.

That kind of move just doesn’t seem beneficial for the direction that the Rams want to go. However, are they better off capitalizing on the value of the player now rather than continue potentially dealing with frustrating injuries with an aging player.

Kupp’s injuries over the last two years have certainly clouded his future with the team and it doesn’t help that the offense moves the ball better when he isn’t on the field. That’s not necessarily to the fault of Kupp, but rather the head coach and quarterback.

It’s certainly something that the team will have to think about this offseason. When Kupp is on the field, he’s a special player. Unfortunately, since signing his contract extension, he’s played in just over 50 percent of the possible games. Kupp’s not getting any younger and the Rams window to win with Donald and Stafford isn’t getting wider.