With Los Angeles Rams star wide receiver Cooper Kupp out for the first four games, many looked towards Van Jefferson as a player who would play a huge role for Sean McVay’s team. However, it was rookie Puka Nacua and third-year man Tutu Atwell who stepped up in Kupp’s absence.
With Kupp now back on the field, it pushed Jefferson further down the depth chart and ultimately McVay and the Rams chose to trade the receiver to the Atlanta Falcons where he will have more of an opportunity to contribute.
But there were absolutely no hard feelings from the Rams side as McVay heaped praise on Jefferson who he called a ‘special person.’
“Starting off, just want to wish Van Jefferson nothing but the best,” McVay said following practice. “We’ve had great communication and dialogue. He is a special person. He’s a special player.
“This was something that we had kind of talked about the possibility of and felt like it was able to work out for both sides. I know he’s excited about the opportunity to go contribute in Atlanta and I got a ton of respect for (Falcons Head Coach) Arthur Smith.”
Of course there are always relationships built and respect gained between players and coaches and McVay clearly has a lot of it for Jefferson. The Rams coach admitted a number of factors went into looking for a trade, but added that he was in constant communication with Jefferson throughout.
“Well that was a combination of a lot of things behind the scenes,” McVay added. “So we talked, we had our conversations. I think there was some honest dialogue about what it was probably going to look like moving forward and then we felt like based on where he felt and what some of the options that he had outside of just on our team, that was how it ended up unfolding.”
Not only does Jefferson now have more of an opportunity in Atlanta, but this is an important year for the receiver as he is set to hit free agency this offseason. By doing this deal now, as opposed to waiting until the trade deadline, Jefferson has more of opportunity to show the league what he is capable of, and the Rams wanted to do right by the receiver.
“I think there was partly a consideration for the person too and you do have to make decisions that are best for the team,” the Rams coach noted. “But based on some of the things that we felt like were possible down the road and looking out for him and for us, that was just what we felt like was the best decision. A huge part of it was trying to be considerate to a really special person.”
It says a lot about the Rams organization in how they approached this situation overall. McVay and the Rams staff was very transparent with Jefferson and moved quickly to find a deal that not only helps the franchise, but puts the receiver in a place where he has the opportunity to thrive.