Trading for Cooper Kupp Would Be Perfect Offseason Move For Patriots
When the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams in last year's Super Bowl, it came at a time when the Rams went all in to win a championship. They spent lots of draft picks and signed many core players to big extensions.
Now, after missing the playoffs this past season and going into the offseason with little cap space, Los Angeles has been firing coaches and members of the administration for building for the now and not for the future.
Next offseason, arguably their best offensive player, Cooper Kupp, will be seeking a new contract, as his rookie deal will expire. Except, it is not looking like the Rams will be able to give him the money he deserves, with players like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Jalen Ramsey, Brandin Cooks, and Aaron Donald eating up large chunks of their salary cap.
In 2021 Los Angeles will have to re-sign players like Ramsey, Robert Woods, and Kupp. A team with limited cap space cannot hold onto all three of those talented playmakers. Instead of watching Kupp, one of the league's better receivers, walk out the door, they could decide to flip him to another team for draft picks (which they do not have many of).
Los Angeles, as it stands right now, does not have a first round pick over the next two seasons. Currently, offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth's future with the team is in question, and with the 2020 NFL Draft being a deep draft for offensive tackles, trading up might make sense for them.
All these looming factors point to the Rams putting Kupp on the market and seeing if they can get serious draft capital for the former third-round pick.
Why the Rams like New England as the landing spot:
Anytime you trade a young, promising star like Kupp, you want to trade him to a team you don't play a lot. In other words, Los Angeles would most likely prefer to ship him off to an AFC team. No AFC team could use him more than the Patriots could, and with lots of draft capital, the Rams could probably get the most value by shipping Kupp to New England.
These two teams have traded star receivers before. Back in 2018, Brandin Cooks was shipped off to the west coast in a deal that has since brought Isaiah Wynn, Keion Crossen, Ryan Izzo, and Byron Cowart to Foxboro. That trade happened when Cooks was set to have his contract expire and the Patriots were unwilling to commit to him long-term and give him the absurd amount of money the Rams gave him.
New England shipped Cooks there to play him as little as possible. So far, they only played him once, which was last year's Super Bowl. Cooks did not fair well in that game.
Why this trade could be similar to the Cooks' trade:
This trade would be similar to the Cooks' trade not just because it involved shipping a receiver to another conference, or the fact that it would be the same teams doing business. The main reason they would be so similar is the asking price would not be that far from what the Patriots got for Cooks.
The Rams would likely look for a first and third round selection to start off the negotiations. After Cooks and a sixth was traded to New England for a first-rounder and a fourth, that trade would lay the framework for this one.
What the trade could look like:
This might be enough to get the talented slot receiver in Foxboro. Take a look:
NE receives: Cooper Kupp
LAR receives: 2020 first round pick (23rd overall) and one of the projected third round compensatory picks from losing Trey Flowers and Trent Brown last offseason
Why the Patriots do it and how it brings everything together:
In a year where cap space is not exactly plentiful and receiving targets are somewhat scarce, Kupp only carries a cap hit of $1.2 million. That leaves enough to still re-sign other key free agents and or make a free agency splash, such as Hunter Henry or Austin Hooper, for examples.
Most of all, it brings everything together. Kupp is an undisputed number one receiver on lots of NFL rosters. He would be the centerpiece of the Patriots' offense. He is a terrific route-runner, who knows how to get open (two big struggles for New England last year).
As it is rumored that Tom Brady wants more offensive weapons if he's going to stay with the Patriots, Kupp might just be the guy to hold everything together and push Brady to re-sign and stay in Foxboro.
Kupp would alleviate the pressure put on receivers like Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, and youngster N'Keal Harry. Edelman has always been a better number two guy as opposed to having the passing game run through him. Sanu has thrived more as a complimentary piece in the passing game throughout his career, so adding Kupp would help him as well. Harry could thrive on better matchups with Kupp on the field, which would allow him to grow and flourish with fellow youngster Jakobi Meyers.
Lastly, Jedd Fisch now being on New England's coaching staff could help Kupp thrive in New England. Previously on Sean McVay's coaching staff in Los Angeles as the assistant offensive coordinator, if there's anyone on the Patriots' coaching staff that would know how to utilize Kupp, it's Fisch. That's a recipe for success.
What New England would do with Kupp's expiring contract would be interesting. Bill Belichick could go in many different directions from there. Kupp could end up with the same fate as Cooks did in 2018, or he could be worth keeping around.
But if there is one thing we know for sure, it's that Kupp in a Patriots uniform would make New England's offense significantly better in 2020.