Cooper Kupp lands contract extension ahead of Rams’ opener against Cowboys
Kupp, 27, secured his deal three days after the Rams gave cornerback Jalen Ramsey a five-year, $105-million extension that includes $71.2 million in guarantees, making him the highest-paid player at his position in NFL history.
Kupp, like Ramsey, was entering the final year of his rookie contract. The 2017 third-round draft pick from Eastern Washington was scheduled to earn $2.4 million in salary and bonuses this season, according to Overthecap.com.
Kupp said this week that he would “love to be a Ram” long-term.
“My thoughts on that have not changed,” he told reporters. “I love it here. I love my teammates. I love the coaches here.”
The Rams now have four key players under contract through at least 2023. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald signed a six-year, $135-million extension in 2018. Quarterback Jared Goff signed a five-year, $134-million extension before last season.
SoFi Stadium, the NFL’s crown jewel, was the the culmination of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s vision and the NFL’s desire to return to the L.A. market.
Goff, Kupp, Donald and Ramsey are the highest-paid pillars for a team attempting to rebound from last season’s 9-7 finish that left them out of the playoffs for the first time under coach Sean McVay.
Kupp has flourished in McVay’s offense as part of a receiver corps that has included Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds throughout Kupp’s career. In 2017, receiver Sammy Watkins played for the Rams. Brandin Cooks played for the Rams in 2018 and 2019.
During the offseason, the Rams released star running back Todd Gurley and traded Cooks to clear salary-cap space for impending extensions for Ramsey and Kupp.
As a rookie, Kupp caught 62 passes for 869 yards and five touchdowns and helped the Rams win the NFC West and make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
In 2018, he was off to a fast start but suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament midway through the season against the Seattle Seahawks. He finished with 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns.
Kupp appeared to come back stronger and faster last season. He caught a team-best 94 passes for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Kupp is expected to have a large role against the Cowboys in a showcase game on “Sunday Night Football.” Kickoff is scheduled for 5:20 p.m at the open-air stadium covered by a roof. But there is a chance it could be delayed.
Because of conditions resulting from wildfires, the Rams and the NFL are monitoring the air-quality index. The NFL “will be prepared to relocate a game if there is definitive evidence that the AQI will remain consistently above 200 for a significant period of time, including the day of the game being played in the affected stadium,” according to the NFL game operations manual.
Regardless, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no fans will be in the stands of a stadium that holds about 70,000 for football.
“It’s still a prime-time game,” Woods said. “The energy will be there, and we’re going to bring the noise ourselves.”
The NFL is monitoring air quality from wildfires in California ahead of Sunday’s scheduled game between the Rams and Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium.
The game will serve as the first test for McVay’s remade coaching staff and roster.
Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, 37, will call his first NFL game against a high-powered Cowboys offense that features quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Amari Cooper.
Staley has indicated that the Rams will run a hybrid 3-4 scheme, with Ramsey expected to line up at various spots.
“The best thing about it is our surprise,” Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “They don’t know what defense we’re going to show up in.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.