Los Angeles Leverage: Why Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald’s Extensions Could Hurt Rams

All good things come to an end. But about two months before the start of the 2022-23 season, the Los Angeles Rams are living in the moment and sticking to the approach to franchise-wide victory now, “f*** the picks “, and all that goes with it.

But certainly, after breaking the bank this offseason with contract extensions and free agency signings, it’s impossible not to consider the future effects that will ripple through the roster after re-signing star defensive tackle Aaron. Donald and Super Bowl MVP LVI Cooper Kupp to massive extensions, regardless of how this season goes.

Both players used high leverage in their favor. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Donald has threatened to retire to earn a three-year, $95 million raise. Kupp let his historic 2021 season do the talking to sign a three-year, $80 million deal that gives him $75 million guaranteed, the most guaranteed money for any active receiver, per Spotrac.

The same goes for quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose courageous leadership and determination undoubtedly gave the Rams the edge needed to win it all. This led to the team awarding him a well-deserved five-year, $100 million extension.

There are still tons of star power on the current roster that we haven’t mentioned. And with other mouths to feed, both on and off the pitch, it might be nearly impossible to satisfy them all. SBNation Lawn Show Times brought up the interesting discussion of what could happen in future seasons once the Rams face the daunting task of giving Jalen Ramsey, Allen Robinson II, Leonard Floyd and potentially Cam Akers the raises they now want Stafford, Kupp, and Donald got theirs.

Ramsey is the most important name to watch on this list of players, as his global personality and talent will demand a big extension if he continues to play at the All-Pro level. Forget pay cuts or team-friendly deals. He will be approaching his 30th season by 2024 and will want one last big payment. With that in mind, SBNation points out that this upcoming season could essentially be a year of proof, as LA would save $15.3 million by cutting him in 2024 if they feel he’s not worthy of an extension. Donald or Kupp type.

Already the league’s second-highest-paid cornerback on a five-year, $100 million deal, that means he’ll need to perform even better this coming season for Snead and Co. to have no choice but to give it the extension it wants. Defensive back is one of the most important positions in the league, something the Rams showed they understood by investing a large draft stock in three players in that position in April.

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But the Rams might consider it a better — and cheaper — option to invest their time in promising young secondary talent rather than splash the cash on an aging All-Pro who might be seen as a waste of money. expenses with hindsight.

This dilemma also applies to Robinson II, although his desire to stay with a team that gives him the best chance of winning a Super Bowl could outweigh the need for an overtime if the Rams narrowly miss the playoffs. playoffs over the next two years. But especially alongside Kupp, it’s hard to see the Rams thinking that ultimately Robinson will deserve more money than the three-year, $46.5 million contract he signed in March. Its leverage is not high at the moment.

Floyd is arguably the team’s best rusher and could demand more when his four-year, $64 million contract ends in 2024. His position is another one of immense value in this league, as he could put LA on the verge of taking a cheap bet on a free agent or extending it after posting 9.5 sacks and a career-high 70 tackles last season despite a season-long ankle injury.

The harsh reality of the NFL makes it obvious that keeping the gang together is never really a realistic goal. But the Rams have a championship window of opportunity over the next few seasons before the current roster staff begins to crumble. It’s winning now and facing the consequences of spending big later.


You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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