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PFT’s 2021 NFL offensive player of the year: Cooper Kupp

Thanks to an additional regular season game, Cooper Kupp has several NFL records within reach, prompting Mike Florio and Chris Simms to discuss if records should be separated based on season length.

The Rams have made a lot of big swings for marquee names like Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller, and Odell Beckham in recent years, but one of their most significant acquisitions came with a lot less fanfare.

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp arrived in the third round of the 2017 draft and that’s proven to be one of the biggest steals in recent draft history. Kupp steadily became one of the most productive receivers in the league over his first few seasons and his production exploded to historic levels in 2021.

Kupp became the fourth player since the NFL-AFL merger to lead the league in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in the same season by posting 145 catches for 1,947 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Michael Thomas is the only player to catch more passes and Calvin Johnson is the only player who has ever gained more yards than Kupp in a single season.

Kupp may have fallen just short of setting those records, but his season still ranks as one of the most productive in NFL history. That’s why he is PFT’s choice as the NFL’s offensive player of the year.

That award has often gone to the most prolific non-quarterbacks in recent seasons, although a couple of quarterbacks also factored into consideration and there will be much more discussion about Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady when we reveal our vote for the league’s most valuable player later this week.

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor joined Kupp as the top position player candidates this season. Taylor led the league with 1,811 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns while tying Chargers running back Austin Ekeler with 20 total touchdowns.

Those numbers make a strong case for Taylor and the race between the two players was as close as could be heading into Week 18. Kupp had seven catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in a close loss to the 49ers that only impacted the Rams’ playoff seed while Taylor getting stuffed on fourth-and-one at the goal line in the Colts’ shocking 26-11 loss weighed into his final argument for the prize.

As the saying goes, football is a game of inches and Kupp nosed past Taylor at the line to take our prize for offensive excellence this season.