Cooper Kupp is coming off one of the greatest and most dominant single-season performances by a wide receiver in NFL history.
The Los Angeles Rams wideout led the league in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and touchdowns (16) en route to being named NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He capped the longest season in league history with two TD receptions in Super Bowl LVI, including the game-winning score with 1:25 remaining, to propel the Rams past the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 as Kupp was named Super Bowl LVI MVP.
With other high-profile receivers including Tyreek Hill (four years, $120 million), Davante Adams (five years, $140 million), A.J. Brown (four years, $100 million) and Stefon Diggs (four years, $96 million) landing mega deals heading into the 2022 season, Kupp and the Rams are in search of a fair extension that would not only benefit the reigning Triple Crown winner, but also the organization as it strives to be the first franchise since 2004-05 and eighth overall to win consecutive Super Bowl titles.
But as the Rams report for minicamp, Kupp, who will earn $14.25 million in 2022 and $14.25 million in 2023, isn’t solely focused on getting paid.
“The focus [this offseason] was honestly the same exact thing I do every single year, which is reflecting on what the season was, work to make the changes happen so I can be a better football player than I was the year before, and then get the opportunity now to get out and bring those things to life,” Kupp says. “The attitude doesn’t change regardless of what you accomplish. You reflect, take the good, you take the bad then you let it be and you move on to the next year. You try to take each year individually.
“I think that allows you to be forward-focused and forward thinking and drives you to improve and move forward on those things.”
It might be hard for many to find any “bad” among a season of success that Kupp and the Rams had, but like a painter painstakingly planning each brushstroke, Kupp is far from satisfied.
Kupp got off to a flying start with 367 receiving yards and five touchdowns as Los Angeles opened the campaign 3-0. The wideout eclipsed triple digit receiving yards in 11 games during the regular season with five or more catches in every game. His 145 receptions were the second-most in NFL single-season history behind Michael Thomas’ 149 with the Saints in 2019, while his 1,947 receiving yards were just shy of Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 set in 2012.
“There’s so much bad,” Kupp says. “We could go through so many things.”
Hardly resting on last season’s performance, finessing his blocking during the run game or his technique and angles on routes to break down certain coverages are the minute details and improvements that dominate his focus and priority.
They’re also what has propelled Kupp, a third-round pick in 2017 out of Eastern Washington, to the NFL’s receiving elite.
“There’s so many things I want to be better at,” Kupp says. “That’s the great thing about this game—there’s so much you can do. If any football player ever thinks that they’ve unlocked all the keys and they’ve played the perfect game, they’re wrong. You can’t do it. But you can strive to do it over and over again. You can push yourself to try to accomplish that to the best of your ability.
“You can strive for perfection. If you strive for perfection over and over again, you’re bound to meet excellence along the way, but you have to be OK with knowing you’re not going to be perfect, but you can go forward with everything you’ve got. That’s the balance I try to have.”
Balance is the key for Kupp’s success and happiness on and off the field. His priorities are faith, family and football—in that order. Each fuels, motivates and inspires the other in Kupp’s ecosystem.
Despite playing the longest season in NFL history—the league expanded the regular season to 17 games across 18 weeks in March 2021—Kupp was able to step away from the game this offseason and focus on his faith and family.
Recharged and ready for 2022—contract extension or not—Kupp, quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive end Aaron Donald and new signings including receiver Allen Robinson and linebacker Bobby Wagner have their sights set on State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, home to Super Bowl LVII.
But, as is common in sports, they’re taking things one game at a time.
“It’s just about trusting our process,” Kupp says. “It’s not about defending what we did last year, it’s about putting together a plan to go forward in our current season. It’s hard to win a Super Bowl regardless, but let’s not string seasons together. Let’s just talk about this 2022 season. Let’s keep stacking bricks and know we aren’t going to win the Super Bowl in Week 1, we’re not going to win it Week 7.
“It’s taking those things one at a time and stacking those blocks. We believe in the process we’ve established as an organization and we’ve tried to refine that as best we can. It’s not finished. It’s a work in progress, but sticking to our guns and knowing that process works and if we can continue to keep getting better, we’ll be in a good place.”
Despite losing Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles was able to land Allen Robinson, who signed a three-year, $46.5 million contract in March.
Robinson had just 410 yards and one TD reception in limited action (12 games) last year with Chicago. He has 6,409 receiving yards and 40 TDs in 100 career games between Jacksonville and Chicago.
“What Allen Robinson has done over the course of his career, I still feel like he hasn’t quite been … I don’t know if unlocked is the word,” Kupp says. “He has so many things that he’s really good at and I feel like he’s utilized one of those things—his ability to make contested catches has been on display. People know that’s something Allen Robinson can do. But what he hasn’t been able to show is his ability to run routes and stick his foot in the ground, double people up and do the stuff underneath.
“I think that’s something that for us we’re going to be able to utilize some of that stuff and be able to showcase what Allen Robinson is about as a football player on a much bigger level. I’m really excited to be on the football field with him because it’s going to be a lot more fun.”
A long-time sufferer of eye allergies, especially as football season ramps back up each spring, Kupp partnered with Pataday to promote their eye drops.
He says he utilizes their Once Daily Relief Extra Strength eye drops each morning.
“I’m that guy in the spring that gets blown up by allergies, so if I’ve got all this stuff going on, especially when I have itchy eyes and I’m rubbing them all the time, it’s hard to focus on seeing a defense and trying to catch a football,” he says. “One drop in the morning has just been huge for it. Just like my cleats, just like my gloves, it’s a tool for me to be at my best, play at my best and be the best version of me I can be.”