clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cooper Kupp’s Rams era has run its course

Rams should explore moving on from Cooper Kupp in the 2024 offseason

Cleveland Browns v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Former All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp, the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2021, did score a touchdown in the L.A. Rams’ 36-19 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. But the Rams should still move on from Kupp after the season.

Is that too harsh? Perhaps it is only because Kupp has had such a historic career with the Rams prior to this season that we not call him finished until he definitely is. Unfortunately, how Kupp has played since his most recent injury implies that he is.

I just can’t help but have the feeling that the Cooper Kupp era might be ending in Los Angeles quicker than anyone imagined.

With the score, Kupp tied Henry Ellard for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in Rams history with 48. Despite scoring for the first time since Week 6 against the Cardinals, there was something that seemingly overshadowed the history-making touchdown.

There needs to be a serious conversation around Kupp’s future in Hollywood and it has to start ASAP.

It feels awkward to even suggest the Rams should consider moving from the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP, yet here we are. His production in the last six weeks alone merits a discussion for parting ways.

First two games: 15 receptions for 266 yards and a touchdown on 21 targets, 7.5 receptions per game, 133 receiving yards per game, 71.4 catch percentage

Last six games: 18 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown on 38 targets, 3 receptions per game, 27.7 receiving yards per game, 47.4 catch percentage

Kupp started out red-hot in his first two starts after returning IR before cooling off considerably since then. The Eastern Washington product hasn’t cleared 50 yards receiving since that Cardinals game.

Since the team’s sixth game of the season until now, Cooper Kupp is averaging 4.4 yards per target. That ranks 108th out of 114 players who have at least 20 targets. The 47.4% catch rate ranks 112th out of 114. The 39.5% success rate ranks 97th. If you up it to 30 targets, Kupp ranks 70th out of 70 qualified players in yards per target, 70th in catch rate, and 63rd in success rate.

This six-game dry spell has easily been the worst stretch for Coop in his seven-year career. The Browns game marked Kupp’s 17th game played since the start of the 2022 campaign. If anyone is really interested in getting nuts, I decided to compare his historic All-Pro season with his last 17 starts. According to my calculations (which my old math teachers would be incredibly proud of), the regression in several key areas is painfully obvious.

2021 regular season (17 games): 191 targets, 145 receptions for 1,947 yards, 16 touchdowns, 13.4 yards per reception, 8.5 receptions per game, 114.5 receiving yards per game, 75.9 catch percentage

2022-23 regular season (17 games): 157 targets, 108 receptions for 1,244 yards, 8 touchdowns, 11.5 yards per reception, 6.4 receptions per game, 73.2 receiving yards per game, 69.8 catch percentage

Kupp has dealt with injuries the last two seasons which has obviously cut into his production. The veteran wideout missed the final eight games of ‘22 due to a high ankle sprain that required surgery and missed the first four games of this year due to a nagging hamstring injury. I would prefer not to ding Coop for his injuries, but I’m afraid I have no choice.

Those injuries severely limited his availability which isn’t ideal for a player seemingly on the wrong side of 30. As Kenneth Arthur wrote on Turf Show Times two years ago, the NFL has quietly been phasing out over-30 receivers over the past decade. There has been somewhat of an older receiver renaissance this year with Keenan Allen, Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans, and Davante Adams continuing to produce at a high level. But Kupp, Tyler Lockett, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham, and Robert Woods are among those who haven’t been as productive.

Les Snead and the front office should attempt to move on from Kupp while they can still get a somewhat decent return for him. However, the receiver’s contract makes it tricky and potentially unattractive to any teams brave enough to take it on.

Kupp was re-signed to a three-year $80.1 million extension in June 2022. According to Spotrac, moving on from him during the 2024 offseason would create a $29,780,000 cap hit and a dead cap hit of $47,040,000. LA has a potential out in the 2025 offseason as the dead cap hit would go down to $17,260,000. Luckily the Rams have plenty of experience getting out from under bad contracts with Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Jared Goff to name a few.

On October 18 following Coop’s first two outings of the year, I wrote on how when healthy, he was the NFL’s best receiver. I don’t intend on walking back on those words as I meant everything I said at the time. The problem is, life in the NFL can change in an instant. Whenever arguments I had for Kupp, they’re quickly becoming irrelevant with each passing week. It’s quite unfortunate, but it’s the stage we’re at right now.

Clearly, there is either an injury affecting Kupp more than we realize or age has finally caught up to him. Maybe he has a mini-Matthew Stafford resurgence in him in the coming weeks, but I doubt it.

The Cooper Kupp era hath runneth its course in Los Angeles and the Rams must cut bait before things get really ugly.