Linebacker Cory Littleton was one of the hottest free agents last offseason. The Las Vegas Raiders had a glaring hole at the position, so it made sense for them to bring him in. How did the signing play out?
Littleton joined the Raiders defense after signing a three-year $36 million contract. It seemed like he struggled to figure out defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme early in the season. As a result, he was playing with more hesitation than he did in the past. This play against the Chiefs early on in the season is a good example.
Studying Raiders Free Agents this past week and Cory Littleton really stood out, and not in a good way. Littleton sees the run, has a gap and could have made the play for a loss if he triggered. Instead he flows to the sideline and gets washed by the TE. #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/nT9tnXOlDX
— Brentley Weissman (@Brentley12) October 30, 2020
In this play, Littleton is clearly not confident and avoids making a tackle attempt. Instead, tight end Travis Kelce blocks him out of the play. This struggle to fit in and play fast really hurt the Raiders’ already porous defense. However, head coach Jon Gruden and his coaching staff wanted to see their investment through. For that reason, they let their free-agent acquisition to work through the kinks in his game.
Any progress Littleton made in this area was put on hold before the Raiders Week 10 game against the Denver Broncos, as he became one of the many players the team placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 list, causing him to miss the next week’s game. Coincidentally, this Las Vegas team had its best outing of the season. They won 37-12 on the back of five defensive turnovers.
Littleton returned to the starting lineup In Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons just in time to help the Raiders lose 43-6. This is not to say that the former Ram is entirely to blame for the poor defense. Nevertheless, he was certainly not the impact player the team envisioned.