There are more than a few reasons the Raiders had a disappointing 2020 campaign. Near the top of the list is the year’s free-agent haul. And on top of that list is linebacker Cory Littleton.
He signed a three-year, $35.2 million contract wtih $22 million guaranteed at a position of extreme need for Las Vegas. He underwhelmed early, along with the rest of the defense, and struggled to make an impact all season, also like the rest of the defense.
But coach Jon Gruden is still optimistic. He even said there’s some Raider greatness within Littleton yet to be unleashed.
“We really like him. I think the greatness in Littleton has yet to be seen as a Raider,” Gruden told reporters on Monday. “I think he’s got an every-down linebacking skillset. I think he can be a leader of our defense. I think he can be a centerpiece here.”
Littleton carries a dead cap value of $19 million next season along with a cap hit of $13.7 million, so the Raiders are counting on him to fulfill even a fraction of Gruden’s hopes.
But with Littleton and fellow free-agent signing LB Nick Kwiatkoski on the roster and plenty of other areas to address on defense, the Raiders have little choice but to hope these two disappointing signings can step it up. If the Raiders can improve their front four and their pass rush, the duo should be solid enough to help Las Vegas’ next defensive coordinator stop the opponent.