Raiders: Cory Littleton is an underrated free agent fit

Raiders, Cory Littleton (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Raiders, Cory Littleton (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

As the beginning of the NFL free agency period approaches, the Las Vegas Raiders would be wise to seriously consider signing linebacker Cory Littleton.

While the rest of the sports world sits at a standstill, the Las Vegas Raiders and the rest of the NFL are set to dive into their normally scheduled free agency period. The official signing window opens on Wednesday, March 18th.

This means that the Raiders are just a few days away from being able to invest the $50+ million they have in available cap space. However, with the legal-tampering period beginning on Monday, the NFL is already buzzing with reports of signings and trades.

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The Raiders themselves have already dipped into free agency reportedly signing linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. But could they still be in the market for another linebacker?

As the franchise decides which of their needs to address through free agency and which to leave for the draft, there is one player, in particular, that seems like an underrated fit — linebacker Cory Littleton.

The Numbers

While Littleton isn’t as much of a household name as some of the other available players, he has developed into an exceptional player. The former Washington star has averaged an incredible 129 combined tackles in each of the past two seasons.

He has also contributed 3.7 sacks per year during that stretch. This impressive level of production earned Littleton Pro Bowl honors after the 2018 NFL season.

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Speaking of numbers, Littleton’s services are expected to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million in average annual salary. While this is a high figure, it would place Littleton outside the top-10 highest-paid players at his position.

It is also a relative value compared to Khalil Mack’s $23.5 million and Bobby Wagner’s $18 million salaries.

The Fit

Cory Littleton would immediately help solve the Raiders’ biggest roster need. Las Vegas is currently void of any difference-making talent in their linebacking corps. In fact, the team’s leading tackler in 2019, Tahir Whitehead, is even slated to sign elsewhere the free agency.

Of course, the signing of the aforementioned Kwiatkoski certainly helps matters, but the Raiders still have a sizable hole at linebacker.

The 26-year-old is certainly young enough to make a major impact in Vegas for several years to come. Not only is he an exceptional tackler, but he is also widely considered to be one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL.

In fact, PFF’s 90.6 coverage grade ranked third in the entire NFL last season. This would be a fantastic skillset for a team that plays in a division with dangerous tight ends such as Travis Kelce and Hunter Henry.

There has been speculation that the Raiders could invest one of their first-round picks in a player like Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray. However, the team may be better suited to fill their need at linebacker by adding a young, talented player like Littleton.

The Conclusion

The Raiders have reportedly already shown serious interest in the linebacker’s services. The potential union seems to be a good fit between player and team.

Littleton fits the Raiders’ needs perfectly, while Las Vegas has the cap space to ensure that the linebacker gets the first huge payday of his young career.

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Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock would be wise to invest a chunk of their cap space in a player like Cory Littleton before another team snatches him up.