Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, left, chats with quarterback Jered Goff during a scrimmage at SoFi Stadium on Aug. 22. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The Rams are working on moves to reconfigure the bottom of the roster before Sunday’s opener against the Dallas Cowboys. The top of the roster — specifically the contract situations of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and receiver Cooper Kupp — remains subject to urgent maneuvering.
Ramsey and Kupp are beginning the final year of their rookie contracts, and both are seeking extensions.
Monday’s practice was closed to reporters but Ramsey and Kupp participated and were “dialed in and ready to go” for the season, according to general manager Les Snead.
Snead and coach Sean McVay, in separate video conferences with reporters, declined to detail where negotiations stood with Ramsey’s and Kupp’s representatives. In the last two years, the Rams awarded massive contracts to defensive tackle Aaron Donald and quarterback Jared Goff in the days leading up to the opener.
“If we’re able to get something done, it’s usually right in these next couple of days is that window of time that’s kind of been consistent for some of our guys,” McVay said, adding, “Whether or not we’re able to get that done, we remain optimistic.”
Ramsey, 25, was acquired in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars last October. He is scheduled to earn $13.7 million this season. Last week, the Buffalo Bills gave cornerback Tre’Davious White a four-year extension worth a reported $70 million that includes a record $55 million in guarantees. Ramsey, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, is expected to smash that record.
“I won’t tell you whether it’s close to getting done or not,” Snead said, adding that the Rams have been in contact with Ramsey’s agent, David Mulugheta. “That’s been a big rock for us in the front office and we continue to work with him to come up with what I always like to say a win-win solution for both a player to be rewarded for what he’s accomplished on the field and for the club to continue in the present and the future.”
Kupp, 27, returned from 2018 knee surgery and had his best season. He led the Rams in receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns. Snead said he was working with agent Ryan Tollner — who also represents Goff — “to come up with a win-win solution.” Kupp is scheduled to earn about $2.4 million this season in salary and bonuses, according to overthecap.com.
And if deals are not done with Ramsey and Kupp?
“Every year, there’s a lot of players who go into the first game in the final year of their contract,” Snead said.
The Rams on Monday welcomed new linebacker Justin Hollins, who was claimed on waivers from the Denver Broncos. New Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley coached Hollins last season with the Broncos.
“That’s the reason we brought him in,” McVay said, “because Brandon felt comfortable with him.”
Hollins is expected to be active for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, McVay said.
McVay and Snead declined to provide an update on rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis, who has been sidelined because of an unspecified knee issue but has not been put on injured reserve.
The Rams are signing running back Raymond Calais from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad, and he is expected to report for a physical on Tuesday, McVay said. Calais is regarded as a candidate to return kickoffs. He returned two for touchdowns in college at Louisiana Lafayette.
“He did some nice things that we had heard from similar people that we know with the Bucs, and our coaches evaluated him coming out,” McVay said. “Anytime that you’ve got one of those elite traits with that speed, you’re going to get an opportunity, and that was really the thing that excited a lot of guys to get him in here.”
The Rams will have to cut another player to make room for Calais. The team is off Tuesday and returns to practice Wednesday.